The Society of Professional Journalists’ Valley of the Sun Chapter calls their annual Valley Publicity Summit “the best Saturday morning in Valley PR.”
While crawling out of bed for an 8 a.m. work-related event may not be everyone’s idea of the “best Saturday,” a few hours at the Valley Publicity Summit is one way to give your public relations skills and connections a boost.
For most public relations professionals, the opportunity to sit down with dozens of local reporters, producers and editors listening to your pitches and advising you on the best way to ensure coverage seems like a dream come true. The annual Valley Publicity Summit makes it possible for Phoenix-area public relations professionals to finally meet with people they may have pitched over email dozens of times.
The summit begins with a panel of local journalists advising on how and when to best connect with them. They also each provided insight about common questions public relations professionals find themselves trying to answer, including the difference in value for digital coverage versus a print article and why journalists may or may not respond to emails or phone calls.
After the panel, the speed pitching begins. Journalists are stationed in three different rooms and public relations professionals line up to have three minutes with their chosen media contacts.
Walking into the first room, the loud buzzing of fresh ideas and perfected pitches frantically fly throughout the room. It is a little daunting at first, but you quickly realize that these journalists are here for you today, to listen to you, provide feedback and offer guidance.
KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE DAY
No longer just a name
There is no substitution for a face-to-face meeting. Talking to local journalists in-person helps to start build a connection. The next time you pitch that journalist, they will remember you, whether it’s a familiar name they see via email, or voice over the phone.
Building these relationships with the media is incredibly valuable to your public relations career, and as someone relatively new to the Phoenix media landscape, I feel like this event put me steps ahead.
Listen to what these journalists want and don’t want in a pitch and always be mindful. Take the extra time to personalize your message and to understand the best time to reach them. You are more likely to get the coverage that you are putting so much effort into securing, if you take a minute to properly prepare before hitting send or picking up the phone.
When opportunities like this come your way, jump out of your comfort zone. I walked in with a little bit of nerves and walked out feeling more confident in my public relations abilities.