Friday, March 19, 2010

How To Help a Reporter Do a Tough Job

At our annual off-site planning meeting yesterday, a journalist laid out five ways that corporate communicators – and their p.r. firms – can help reporters do their jobs. Jim Van Nostrand, Web Editor of McClatchy’s Washington Bureau, recommended the following:

- Be truthful – don’t blow smoke.
- Don’t play favorites in return for desirable coverage. Provide information to all interested reporters at the same time.
- Help reporters become subject matter experts, even if they are new to the beat.
- Provide your office phone number, cell phone number and e-mail address prominently on your Web site.
- Do your homework before you call a reporter to pitch a story. Make sure you know the reporter’s beat, interests and recent coverage of the subject.

Van Nostrand, who shared a Pulitzer Prize for team coverage of the Katrina hurricane at the Biloxi Sun Herald, also said that corporate Web sites can be very important to journalists. He urged that the sites make it easy to find the key information that reporters look for – including bios of management, regulatory filings, earnings reports and contact information.

The biggest change taking place in the media? He described it as a historic shift from “one-to-many” communication, to “many-to-many,” as bloggers and information “users” find more avenues for expressing their views. This shift is rapidly accelerating through handheld communications devices. “The exciting things happening in journalism today are geared to mobile devices,” he said.

- Potomac Communications Group

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