Each month we reach out to journalists and media professionals to chat with them about their experiences in the industry. For our first entry in 2016, we spoke with Jameson Berkow from BNN.
Reporter, Business News Network (BNN)
What piques your interest/curiosity about a story?
First and foremost – something new. If someone tries to pitch “in keeping with the trend…” type stories to me, it makes me less interested. Also linking it to an awareness day/week/month. It seems like every day is an awareness day and it’s impossible to keep up (and keep track) of them. If a story idea or pitch starts with either of those angles, 99% of the time I will not read further as it has no value to my audience. If you must connect your story to one of these awareness days, put it further down in the pitch as an added fact, not as the main intro line.
One thing that interests me is a new angle to a major story. If the story can broaden the perspective of my viewers and provide them with further information, that is great. Find a value proposition in the story you are sending so that it can be interesting not only to me, but to my audience. Make your case for why I should find your particular story/pitch interesting.
While BNN covers, in general, business and financial news, personally I am interested in stories connected to the energy sector, tech, and advances in the clean energy sector.
What advice would you give PR pros about working with journalists? (Also, anything in particular to know about working with you specifically?)
Keep it short, be direct and concise, and try to make your point in the first sentence. Journalists get lots of story idea pitches, and also come up with their own, so you need to catch our attention fast. You have 5 seconds to get our interest. We lack time to read a thousand word pitch – this means that even if your pitch is spot on and something that is right up our alley, we may not read the pitch because it didn’t get to the point fast enough.
Journalists also appreciate when you personalize a pitch. If you know I have a personal interest in tech or the clean energy sector, mention that. These personalization touches show me that a PR pro has taken the time to get to know me, and makes me give them the benefit of the doubt that the pitch they are sending is relevant.
Also – make sure you have done your research and are pitching the correct outlets. We get a lot of general news pitches, which are not relevant when you cover business oriented news.
What are some common misconceptions about journalists?
One common misconception PR people have is that they think journalists have a lot more time than we actually do to put together a story. Whereas years ago there may have been six plus people covering a sector or a beat, now there are just two. I don’t think that this misconception is limited strictly to the PR world.
In general, I don’t think PR pros have any huge misconceptions about what it is like to be a journalist.
If there is one thing that I would like to highlight [regarding the general public and the media] it is that the media doesn’t have an agenda. We didn’t cover the story that you are asking about because we didn’t hear about it – not because of some conspiracy. This is where PR pros come into play as they can bring these stories to our attention. One of the key things that PR people do is make sure that journalists are aware of things going on in the world. That is one thing that PRs need to think about – getting a story in front of our eyeballs, instead of just pitching, can be effective.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us Jameson!
Have a story you would like to share? Let us know on Twitter at @PRTheAgency or in the comment section below!