Public Relations

Quality Advice From Top Tech Journalists: Part 1

By Lexi March | On February 12, 2016

Public relations professionals new and old are taught in their careers the golden rules for how to treat the media: research their backgrounds, always email pitches, don’t blow up their inboxes, follow up sparingly – the list goes on…

But has anyone actually gotten the chance to ask journalists what they want from the PR pros?

On January 28, PRSA held the webinar, A Tech PR Trifecta, hosted by Affect President, Sandra Fathi, to figure this out. The webinar featured three technology journalists with different backgrounds to answer a range of questions about their preferences and opinions of their relationship with PR pros.

The first panelist was Jason Perlow, a senior writer for ZDNet and veteran of the industry for more than 20 years. He currently works part time writing for the publication, and full time at Microsoft as a partner technology strategist.  Here are the key take-aways from Jason:

  1. About ZDNet
    ZDNet is mainly comprised of freelancers as opposed to a traditional staff, which currently only has about six people, including the Editor-in-Chief. The freelancers at ZDNet are really specialized, each having specific beats and interests.
  2. The Pitch
    Jason’s biggest rule: Know who you are pitching! Make sure to thoroughly research your media target before sending a pitch to a journalist. As someone who gets more than 100 pitches per week in his inbox, it’s frustrating to get extremely irrelevant topics.As far as follow up pitches on topics he has already covered, Jason is open to them. Sometimes he’ll revisit a topic if he has a unique enough angle to make the story take a different course.Keep your pitch short, sweet, but still give enough information to make sure your point is understood. Be sure to include photos as well, if you’re pitching a new product.
  3. Etiquette
    Even if you’re not sure which reporter at a publication is best suited for a story, Jason suggests to not spam the whole office. Word travels quickly if everyone received the same pitch regarding your company’s newest widget and why it’s so great. The last thing you want is to be subject of water cooler conversation, in a bad way.Another way you can be put on the wall of shame in the employee lounge is to call at a bad time. While phone calls aren’t the most preferred way to contact a reporter, sometimes it’s necessary. However, calling late at night to the East Coast when it’s still sunny and warm at 2 p.m. in San Francisco will not earn you any points with reporters.
  4. Relationship Building
    Some of Jason’s best professional relationships are with the PR folks he’s met throughout his career. He in particular values the tight relationships he has with a few select PR people because they understand his style and his interests more than most other professionals sending him offering him topics to talk about. However, that doesn’t mean to start adding reporters from your contact list on Facebook—limit social media contact to the reporters you’ve actually met and worked with in the past.

Come back next week to check out parts 2 and 3. Next week, we will feature insights from Martin Bryant, Editor-at-Large of The Next Web.

To view the webinar in its entirety, click here.

Lexi March

Alexis March is an Assistant Account Executive at Affect. In this role, she is working with clients to secure media placements, develop press releases and other content, as well as conduct daily media monitoring and reporting. Prior to joining Affect, Alexis was an Account Coordinator at Paige Group, where she worked with clients in a variety of sectors including technology, B2B, and public information and engagement. Alexis was responsible for media monitoring and reporting, media content development and coordinating event logistics. She also spearheaded the use of media monitoring services at the agency to increase the accuracy of media data and analysis for her clients. Alexis earned her B.S. in Public Relations from Utica College.