Each month we have been reaching out to notable communications professionals to ask them a few questions about their experiences and interests, with the goal of providing some insights to others in the industry. The July edition of ‘Questions for the PR Industry’ features Meg McAllister, a global public relations and publishing consultant and media strategist.
PR & publishing consultant, media strategist
What media outlets do you follow on a regular basis and why?
I service a range of clients in three different countries, and I’m a “news junkie,” so there are a wide range of media and influencers I follow every day. I spend about 2 hours at the start of the day, fueled by a lot of caffeine, reading online. I have two Twitter lists of feeds I read through, one is news and includes a wide variety of outlets including Huffington Post, Yahoo News, Canadian Press, Reuters, the Press Association, Associated Press, the Independent, New York Times and National Post. The other list includes key influencers and publications in the PR industry: PR News, PR Daily, PR Week (US & UK), Gini Dietrich, Rob Wynne, Stephen Waddington, Sarah Hall, Martin Waxman and Judy Gombita. I also have a customized Yahoo feed that shows me the local media headlines for Toronto, NY and London.
What skills do you believe are crucial to communicating a client’s message?
The most important skill to communication is listening. You have to really understand what your client’s real goals are (sometimes they don’t even know) and be able to work with them to develop messages that are authentic and impactful. Obviously, solid written and oral language skills are necessary, but equally important is an open mind and good instincts. All these things combined are key in identifying and influencing the right audiences for your client’s message.
How do you put together a pitch?
The days of the generic press release are gone. They have only limited use as announcements or resource material. Pitches need to be tailored to the individual media outlet. A PR pro must target a strategic list of outlets, not necessarily just the biggest, and never pitch a media contact before researching the latest articles they’ve written or segments they’ve aired. You must be able to draw a picture for them, make them see how your client’s message will inform, educate or entertain their specific audience. Keep your pitch brief and to the point, and include relevant links and video/audio if available. The easier you make it for the media, the more beneficial it will be for you.
Thank you, Meg!
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