- Kyle Clark, anchor, 9News
- Jim Clarke, bureau chief, Associated Press
- Eric Gorski, reporter, The Denver Post
- Geoff Van Dyke, editorial director, 5280
The panel members shared some interesting insights about how they interact with public relations professionals, what mistakes they think we make, and how they like to find their stories.
I thought it might be helpful to paraphrase a few of the insights they shared:
- Do your homework on what beats reporters actually cover. Nothing aggravates them as much as receiving pitches that are outside of what they cover.
- Use email and keep it brief. Reporters have learned not to answer their phones, and they won’t respond to long, impersonal emails.
- Surprisingly, some reporters are annoyed by press releases that have everything buttoned up. They prefer to get a nod in the direction of the story and then discover where it takes them.
- Don’t make it personal. Most reporters are just following a story and aren’t out to make anyone look bad. It’s not personal to them – just business. You should treat it the same way.
- Reporters are trained to uncover things. Misleading or lying to them at the start is only going to make it harder for you. And they will find out if you are misleading them.
- Reporters are much more tolerant of “civilians” who don’t understand what off the record means, but it still aggravates them. But if you are in government or public relations, you know the rules (or should) and they won’t give you the benefit of
- And even with professionals, specific definitions of “on background” and “off the record” can vary. Set precise expectations up front before the interview to avoid a misstep you may regret later.