The Insider’s Secrets to Getting Press

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 7, 2009 in Books, journalism, Marketing, Public Relations

Last December I read an interesting book called “The Confessions of an Ink-Stained Wretch: The Insider’s Secrets to Getting Press,” by John Persinos.

Persinos offers witty advice for public relations and marketing professionals. He includes information on:

  • Writing good press releases and marketing pieces
  • Holding press conferences and events
  • Handling media interviews
  • Working with the integration news including web, print and cable
  • Getting messages to bloggers, podcasters and others in new media
  • Influencing politics
  • Future of the press

His book is easy to read because of the many lists. It’s something you could easily have read in a week’s time.

I really thought this was a great book for a young PR professional and I would suggest checking it out if you want to be better able to work with the press.

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Working With Reporters To Get Your Story In

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Feb 5, 2009 in journalism, Public Relations, Story Pitching

I was just flipping through a book I read last December, The Confessions of an Ink-Stained Wretch: An Insider’s Secrets to Getting Press, and found some things I’d like to note for you on working with reporters.

John Persinos quoted Sun Tzu: “The battle is won before the fight, through preparation.”

I think this is true for anything; interviews, stories, resumes and cover letters, purchases.

But when you are pitching to a newspaper, you really need to do your research. Who generally covers stories on this subject? What beat might this fit under and who is the beat reporter? Who is that reporter’s editor?

A lot of times, this can be quick and easy research. Look at the newspaper bylines. Persinos suggests calling the managing editor if you can’t find specific information.

Relationships are important and they should go both ways. As I’ve said in a previous post, if someone doesn’t like you, they probably won’t help you out. If you work on technology accounts, build a relationship with the local reporter who covers technology.

After pitching a story, say via e-mail, follow up with the reporter. Persinos suggests writing a script that you can go off of so you know your talking points.

Persinos said, “Cultivating the press is a 24/7 effort that never ceases. It’s like going on a date: you first have to buy dinner and flowers, and make an effort at conversation, if you expect to score,” (p. 49).

I thought this was a very humorous way to put it, but I think it has some truth.

Another note Persinos made was to make personal contact like sending hand-written notes with relevant articles to the reporter just because they will find it interesting.

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8 Tips to Finding Good Stories for the Media

Posted by Rachel Esterline on Dec 13, 2008 in Books, journalism, Public Relations, Story Pitching, Writing

Earlier this week I was at the library looking for some books on advertising for a final paper. I came across The Confessions of an Ink-Stained Wretch by John Persinos.

The book intrigued me. Although I have a good amount of writing experience, I don’t have a lot of story pitching experience. I’ve heard a lot of my peers say that we don’t get enough experience in this area, therefore I felt it would be a good idea to read this book.

With the recent cuts in journalism jobs, I think PR will be very important. With less staff on hand at publications, the remaining journalists will need quality press releases and sources to make their jobs easier.

I would like to take note of a few good tips Persinos offered on thinking like the media. Although his tips were mostly about money, some of them can be applied to general stories as well.

8 Tips to Finding Good Stories for the Media

1. Money matters. Have you ever heard of the term “CREAM?” It means, “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” If there is a lot of money to be lost or gained, then you’ve got a story.

2. Localize, localize, localize. Things tend to be more important when it affects the local people. CNN has had a lot of coverage on the automaker bailout recently, but it’s much more compelling to me when they relate it to how it will affect the people I grew up with.

3. Remember your audience. Don’t use financial jargon that only bankers understand. Most of your readers, unless you write for the Wall Street Journal, aren’t going to get it. Write the story so they can understand it.

4. Check your work. Remember hearing that in fifth-grade math? It still applies. Make sure you got the numbers right.

5. Tell what’s really going on. So, there might not be an automaker bailout, right? GM goes bankrupt. That’s about money. But what’s the real story? How about the story about the man who won’t have a job to support his five kids?

6. People love rags-to-riches stories, especially when they are localized. Tell the media about how your client was homeless and on the streets before he became a billionaire (well, only if that is true).

7. Use money language that people can relate to. They will relate better to “gas prices denting their wallets,” rather than “oil prices continue to rise.”

8. Namedrop when you can. People know brand names. If you say, “Teflon accused of…” people will pay attention more than if you said, “Some companies that manufacture cooking utensils…”

You can go to Persinos Web site, Ink-Stained Confessions, to get a copy of the first chapter or to download his podcast. I will write a full review of the book once I am done.

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