Bellmont Partners is Here to Help During COVID-19 READ MORE
Bellmont Partners is Here to Help During COVID-19 READ MORE

5 Universal Lessons Learned from Journalists over the Past 12 Months

As we mark one year since the start of the pan­dem­ic – and a very event­ful news year – we want­ed to take time to reflect on what has changed and what has remained the same when it comes to jour­nal­ism and media rela­tions. We reached out to some friends in the media – WCCO-TV anchor Frank Vas­cel­laro, Twin Cities Busi­ness Magazine’s Edi­tor-in-Chief Alli­son Kaplan and exec­u­tive strate­gist, cri­sis coach and host of REAL Talk with Roshi­ni on WCCO Radio, Roshi­ni Rajku­mar to ask them about their expe­ri­ences over the last year. In our dis­cus­sions, we found five com­mon themes that align with what we’ve also expe­ri­enced work­ing close­ly with jour­nal­ists over the last 12 months – and that can be applied to fields beyond jour­nal­ism and media relations:

Read the room

  • This is some­thing we’ve known all along, but it became more impor­tant than ever in 2020 and now in 2021 to “read the room” and decide when is the right time to pitch a sto­ry (or make any pub­lic announce­ment). With the con­tin­u­ous­ly break­ing news of the pan­dem­ic, the elec­tion and insur­rec­tion and the social unrest that fol­lowed the killing of George Floyd, news­room and staff were stretched thin with all hands on deck. A pitch regard­ing an event a month down the road or new prod­uct would not only be ignored but could be seen as insen­si­tive dur­ing break­ing news cycles. Read­ing the room also means know­ing the land­scape and who you are pitch­ing. As Alli­son Kaplan, Twin Cities Busi­ness Magazine’s edi­tor-in-chief says, “Pro­vide some con­text. Why does it mat­ter now? What’s hap­pen­ing next? Also know what we’ve already writ­ten on the top­ic.” Read the room = do your research.

Tell your best sto­ry and why it is important

  • How does a pitch (or idea or new prod­uct) go beyond your com­pa­ny or orga­ni­za­tion and impact the com­mu­ni­ty? In this tight news land­scape, it’s impor­tant to keep this in mind. WCCO-TV’s Frank Vas­cel­laro says, “Pitch­es that work the best are not self-serv­ing, but com­mu­ni­ty-serv­ing. You should pitch an idea that has a broad­er impact that affects the com­mu­ni­ty than a nar­row top­ic that only ben­e­fits the com­pa­ny. How does your com­pa­ny or client help peo­ple? We are look­ing for inno­va­tions and solu­tions that help peo­ple and the com­mu­ni­ty in gen­er­al.” WCCO Radio’s Roshi­ni Rajku­mar agrees: “The best PR pro­fes­sion­als pitch specif­i­cal­ly. From my past life in TV news as a reporter, to my cur­rent work as a talk show host and com­men­ta­tor for oth­er out­lets, the best PR pitch­es are the ones that know my style, under­stand how I cov­er things on my show, and don’t send blan­ket press releases.”

Make it easy as pos­si­ble for everyone

  • Every­one is stretched thin more than ever so pro­vid­ing all the infor­ma­tion a jour­nal­ist would need to know and use for a sto­ry is cru­cial. “We need pho­tos with every sto­ry we post, so hav­ing assets avail­able can expe­dite the process,” Kaplan says. “It may seem small, but it’s vital in our visu­al world today.” Mak­ing things as easy as pos­si­ble for the reporter/producer to do their job will help get your sto­ry covered.

Rela­tion­ships are key

  • Even in this new vir­tu­al world we are liv­ing in, it is still impor­tant to devel­op rela­tion­ships with media (and your co-work­ers, cus­tomers, etc.). Be prompt, kind and help­ful. “Devel­op­ing rela­tion­ships with media is very impor­tant,” Vas­cel­laro says. “We are more apt to do a sto­ry when it comes from a PR pro­fes­sion­al we have worked with, respect and trust that it is a news­wor­thy sto­ry idea rather than a pro­mo­tion­al pitch.”

In this 24–7‑365 world, we’re all human

  • More than ever, the news cycle is mov­ing fast and furi­ous. “Social media has real­ly changed tra­di­tion­al jour­nal­ism,” Rajku­mar notes. “The seem­ing­ly 24–7‑365 nature of things means there’s not enough time for news gath­er­ing, dis­cern­ment before pub­li­ca­tion or broad­cast and reflec­tion.” Remem­ber there are human beings behind the emails and social media, in front of and behind the cam­eras (and in front of and behind all those webi­na­rs we’ve been watch­ing late­ly). So, while it’s impor­tant to do our best work, know that there is so much more hap­pen­ing behind the scenes and we need to be kind to one another.

The world is a dif­fer­ent place than it was a year ago in so many ways. As chal­leng­ing as this past year has been, it taught us a lot about how we work, how we inter­act and who we are as peo­ple. Hope­ful­ly we can all take away pieces that will make us bet­ter pro­fes­sion­als – and peo­ple – mov­ing for­ward. As we take time to pause and reflect on the past year, what lessons have you learned that you plan to car­ry with you in 2021 and beyond?

 

Shel­li Lis­sick and Megan Ander­son from our team also con­tributed to this post.

Leave a Reply

Account Supervisor Michelle Griffith named a 32 Under 32 winner
June 11, 2021
Pop Culture Incorporated: Sea-Monkeys, Schoolhouse Rock! and Shakey’s Pizza
June 7, 2021
The Power of Meaningful Work on Mental Health
May 25, 2021
Three Tips to Building a Hybrid Communications Team
May 24, 2021
What’s Brewing with Jamie Gassmann of R3 Continuum
May 24, 2021
Shelli Lissick Named One of Ragan and PR Daily’s Top Women in Communications
May 20, 2021

Categories