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3 ways PR professionals can pitch better to journalists in the modern era

3 ways PR professionals can pitch better to journalists in the modern era

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The newsroom has changed drastically over the years, particularly, post-pandemic as it has become more tech-savvy. With everything going online, communications professions need to evolve as well in order to catch the attention of the modern journalist, according to Steven Chia, a presenter and senior editor at CNA who was speaking at PR Asia Singapore. 

Don't miss: 5 key takeaways for the industry from the 10th Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat

Chia was discussing the relationship between the media and PR professionals and how they need to evolve with the changing landscape at a panel with Ariffin Sha, founder and editor-in-chief of alternative media platform Wake Up Singapore.

The conference will be coming to Malaysia next week on 8 November at Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara.

Below are three key points journalists want PR professionals to know in 2023, according to Chia and Sha.

1. Understand that the newsroom is more tech savvy

In the newsroom, a lot has changed, said Chia. For one, a lot of people don't watch traditional TV anymore or read print as much. "Everything is online and as a result, we need to evolve to catch the attention of different people," he said.

A lot of stuff has changed in the newsroom because of tech but when it comes to the PR side, that just hasn't really evolved. 

You can do this in many ways because of social media, Chia explained. For example, PR professionals can target different audience groups online in a slightly different ways each time in their pitches based on the platform and what people are consuming. 

An example of this is Wake Up Singapore which has a very different audience as compared to traditional media. 

"The attention span on mobile is generally shorter. So, when pitching to us, your angle and hook must be very aligned," said Sha. "You have to angle it different and pick out very specific selling points."

He added that it's no longer just about the article and that with more people consuming media through platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and more, they tend to get snippets and will likely see the same story five different ways. So, PR professionals needs to take that into account when it comes to pitching stories. 

2. Find the right platform for the right audience 

This brought Chia and Sha to their next point which was that PR professionals need to have an understanding of what is needed by a specific publication and know who to reach out to so they can achieve their goals. 

Chia said:

If you send a press release that is more tailored to the publication, it saves a lot of legwork and actually links to what my publication is working on.

He added that with press releases today, there is a lot of information that publications don't actually need because they are working on multiple platforms and with evolving angles. So, knowing your publication and platform and tailoring it to them helps. 

"When you pitch to me, all you need is one paragraph. If you can hook me with that, we can work out the details," said Chia. "Less is more from my point of view."

3. Understand the new generation

Beyond understanding the platform and publication you are pitching to, both Sha and Chia agree that PR professionals need to understand that they are now pitching to a younger millennial or Gen Z batch of journalists and that they need to cater to that. 

"The way they scrutinise a statement or response can be very different from how someone in another generation interprets the same statement," said Sha.

Adding to his point, Chia explained that often, the way different people see things can be entirely different even within the same issue. 

To combat this, Sha suggests testing the waters to see how audiences respond to what is being put out as it can help them see what journalists are responding to. 

Another suggestion is to build tangible relationships between the media and comms professionals. "While press releases are still relevant, they don't have to be the first line," he said. 

"You are dealing with a different generation that works differently in this hybrid working world," said Chia. He added:

You're still dealing with individual reporters, so you have to get to know them. It's all about human relationships at the end of the day.

Chia explained that while he understands that PR professionals are often stuck between the media and their clients, they have to be able to convince clients that just sending what you want to announce will not get you far. 

"You need to think of how you want to frame what you want to announce. All our stories and the issues we cover are meant to connect with viewers. If there's no connection, there's no point," said Chia. 

Chia added that ultimately, publications have editorial integrity and will not bend to meet any brands.

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