“Stepping Up to the Plate”
Today’s Media Breakfast MVP’s (or panelists, if you prefer):

  • Phil Borchmann, Gulfshore Business Magazine
  • Francesca Donlan, The News-Press
  • Valarie Harring, Breeze Newspapers
  • Michael Hayes, 96.9 WINK-FM
  • Penny Moore, Naples News Media Group
  • Oswaldo “Waddy” Padilla, Florida Weekly
  • Lois Thome, WINK-TV

Thanks to all of our fantastic panelists!

    Our MVP’s stepped up to the plate and took questions from our membership.

    Q: How do you define “newsworthy?”
    Lois: Newsworthy means “new.” We look for stories that will appeal to a broad base of people.
    Waddy: We don’t cover crime.  As a weekly, we’re interested in events that are coming up more than events that have already happened.
    Penny: We look for local appeal.
    Michael: We sell the immediacy of the story.  We want to cover breaking news because we’re always on the air.
    Valarie: As a community newspaper, we concentrate on advancing events and covering community events.
    Francesca: As the “Up Beat” reporter, I’m looking for stories that make people smile.
    Phil: Being a monthly publication, we have a lot of lead time for planning.  We can’t do breaking news.

    Q: With changes in media and technology, has it become easier or harder to find news stories?
    Lois: There’s more of everything, more newscasts mean less time to put together more content.  Our deadlines are changing as a result, and those deadlines aren’t always convenient for people.
    Waddy: Technology allows us to get our message and our product out to more people.  Apps, facebook, twitter, blogs all help us get information and also distribute it.
    Penny:  We’re all trying to stay up with the times to keep newspaper alive.  All of our reporters tweet, take pictures, and do other things to promote the news.
    Michael: Radio all across the country is consolidating, and like other media outlets, everyone is doing more with less people.  We also have to stand out doing by social media and not just radio.
    Valarie:  The editors of our weekly newspapers are now editors of daily news websites.  Stories that we might not have time to cover in our print editions can still get attention on our websites.
    Francesca:  The job of the PR professional has become more important.  Because everyone is doing more with less, an already great story with a great photo already provided has a good chance of running.
    Phil: Internet has created more opportunities for you to get content to us.  However, the magazine industry has been impacted less than other forms of media.

    Q: For agencies without a full-time PR professional, what are the top tips you reccomened for us to improve our public relations and outreach?
    Lois:  Look at the trends that are occurring in your business or agency.  Great personal stories that might give people a broad idea of what’s happening in your organization.  Don’t just send a news release, but instead pitch a story to a reporter you respect or have a good rapport with.
    Waddy: Take a lot of pictures.
    Penny: Keep news releases short, and don’t be afraid to re-send an email if it doesn’t get any attention the first time.
    Michael: Give us plenty of lead time.
    Valarie: Focus on upcoming events that you want publicity for.
    Francesca: If you have an event coming up, find a story that revolves around the event and pitch the story.
    Phil: Don’t send PDFs of your news releases.  Send a format everyone can read.  And if we call you, please call us back and be willing to make yourself available.

    Q:  How do you prefer to be contacted?
    Phil: Please, no snail-mail or fax.
    Francesca: I like phone calls
    Valarie: Email is best, but please put the subject of your release in the subject line.  Feel free to call, but please don’t call to ask if the story ran.
    Michael: Email is best for me.
    Penny: I’m open to both email and phone, but I prefer email.  I try to respond to emails within 24 hours.
    Waddy: Email is the way to go for me.  I don’t mind being hounded via email, so feel free to send it more than once.
    Lois: I don’t even have a physical phone on my desk, so phone is bad for me.  Email is definitely best, and we can even check our emails on the news set.

    Q: Do you find stories on social media (facebook, twitter)?
    Lois: Yes
    Waddy: Yes
    Penny: We’re required to have facebook and twitter open at all times.
    Michael: Our reporters look for stories while on-air.
    Valarie: For breaking news, yes.  For news release info, no.
    Francesca: Not so much.  But if I need to find people, I’ll use it.
    Phil: Not very often.

    Q: What about video b-roll and VNR (video news releases)?
    Lois: We avoid them because we can’t verify the accuracy, source, etc.

    Q: How can we establish a rapport with a reporter?
    Lois: Develop rapport via email.
    Waddy: Our reporters like people who write to them.  They like to hear feedback from people who comment on their stories or columns.
    Penny: Naples Daily News does a monthly “Coffee and Community” get-together.
    Michael: Email, or look for reporters in the community.
    Valarie: If you want to make contact, have a local story ready to pitch.  Be familiar with our papers and our beats.
    Francesca: Reporters get so few actual compliments, that sometimes just a few nice words can help build a releationship.

    Q: When dealing with something that will clearly be a major news story (like an election), how can we work together to get information out quickly without mass confusion?
    Francesca: Make an appointment with an executive editor and hold a planning session.
    Valarie: Call us and send a release with the most important information
    Penny: Call us and we’ll sit down and try to sort it out.
    Waddy: Maybe hold or send out a daily briefing.
    Lois: You need to make sure the same reporter covers your story from beginning to end, and to make sure you’re available whenever the media needs you.

    A big thank-you to all of our MVP panelists, who were more than willing to share their thoughts and advice with the FPRA Southwest Florida membership.  Sorry we couldn’t get to everyone’s questions!