March 2019 – PRSA Lunch and Learn

Trust, availability, relevance – these are the three key pieces of advice from the PRSA Gulf Chapter’s March media panel. Betty Wells, senior editor, Florida Weekly; John Davis, WGCU host of Morning Edition and Rachel Pierce, morning anchor NBC-2 answered questions about how each outlet covers news in Southwest Florida. They offer these three top take-a-ways:

Best Advice for Public Relations professionals:

  • Rachel Pierce, NBC-2 News: Build trust. Get to know the reporters and editors. Send us personalized story ideas. In a world where nothing seems face-to-face, face-to-face still counts for a lot. And, be available. If you pitch a story and a reporter calls you, please help to meet our deadlines or it reflects poorly on us that our source couldn’t come through. When that happens we aren’t likely to call you back.
  • John Davis, WGCU Public Media: We get hundreds, if not thousands of emails per day. Be patient. If we don’t respond to your email immediately, please understand we did see it and will consider it, and we will contact you if we want more information.
  • Betty Wells, Florida Weekly: As a weekly publication we are planning stories at least a week out, if not more. Send us information well in advance. The more time we have, the more we can develop, cover, or run your story.

How to make your pitch stand out:

  • Rachel Pierce, NBC-2 News: In daily TV news we want a pitch that is short and to the point. I need two sentences. Why is this relevant? Why will people care? Finally, I need to know that I can trust you to come through. I’m always willing to help with a story idea. Even if we can’t cover your pitch, ask me, “How can I make this more relevant next time?”
  • John Davis, WGCU Public Media: For public media, we aren’t typically covering breaking news, such as a shooting or traffic accidents, but we are covering trends. We are more likely to look at, ‘Is crime on the rise, or are traffic fatalities on the rise?’ If you can tie your pitch to a national or regional trend, we are more likely to use you as a resource. Also, we want to take issues and make them personal. If you have a person who can help us tell the story, that helps a lot. We are storytellers; and we want to tell stories that relate to the largest numbers of listeners.
  • Betty Wells, Florida Weekly: I receive 8,000 emails a day. Public relations professionals can stand out by helping to make my job easier. We are looking for well-written pitches, stories and articles that are relevant for the majority of our publications – covering most of south Florida. We are most likely to run stories that are well-written from sources we know and trust.

 On Submitted Content:

  • Rachel Pierce, NBC-2 News: Photos and videos help us to visualize your story idea. Definitely include. We may use your video if it is something we can’t get ourselves (for example, a one-time event such as a sea turtle release) we may use it. Most often we will use our team to shoot and edit stories for our newscasts. If something is blowing up on your social media feeds, send it to us. We may share it, or even cover it.
  • John Davis, WGCU Public Radio: We will definitely use your photos. Often we can produce stories from our studio and over the phone, but we need your images to post on our web page and social media outlets.
  • Betty Wells, Florida Weekly: We are most likely to utilize well-written and relevant press releases along with submitted articles and photos. We do not utilize video. Florida Weekly’s social scene and event photos are very popular with readers. They do very well on our social media too. Send us photos from your events and we will try to run them.
    Want to learn more about pitching to Florida Weekly? Click to see Betty’s full tip sheet here.


Top Three Take-A-Ways – How To Catch A Reporter’s Attention