The Do’s and Don’ts of Working with the Media


by Carolyn Linck, Racepoint Global

This week several colleagues and I had the privilege to attend a networking event and panel hosted by Gorkana with the Financial Times’ West Coast Bureau. Following a networking breakfast with many PR and communications practitioners in attendance, West Coast Editor Richard Waters and San Francisco Correspondent Sarah Mishkin spoke candidly about their experience working with PR people and how their publication is covering technology and trends. During the panel, Richard and Sarah both shared some helpful tips about hooking them for an interview or inclusion in an article and some interesting tidbits around their perspective on the tech industry. They also shared some PR horror stories – essentially what NOT to do when working with the media. While the entire discussion was interesting and beneficial for those working in technology, communications or the media, some of the most valuable takeaways for me were:

  • Think Global – stories that have a global angle and will impact people around the world are particularly attractive to the Financial Times and the outlet’s readers. With editions published all over the globe, pitches that involve more than one market or transcend geographic borders are a major plus when trying to secure interest at FT.
  • Innovation and Impact – is the story or client you’re pitching truly innovative? How will it impact people and their behaviors? What is different about it? How is it disrupting, impacting or challenging some of the already existing technology titans like Google or Facebook? If you can effectively answer these questions, then chances are the Financial Times will take a meeting with your client. Think of them as you develop your pitch.
  • Keep Background in the Forefront of Your Mind: Are you working with a new startup or smaller privately held company? As many of us have experienced firsthand, it’s typically more difficult to secure interest from top-tier outlets like the Financial Times when you’re working with an unknown entity. Sarah suggested leveraging the client’s previous experience or background when pitching, offering them as an expert on a particular topic of interest as proven by their previous work. For example, if they came from a big name company – like Amazon, Apple or Salesforce.com – note that in your pitching efforts and highlight their expertise on the larger industry topic or trend.  Though this approach likely won’t result in company-specific coverage, securing an interview for a client as an expert source on a larger industry piece certainly positions them well for future conversations and adds credibility to their new endeavor.

In addition to these larger takeaways, Richard provided a quick list of his PR don’ts, including:

  • Don’t direct message a journalist on Twitter
  • Don’t call and ask “did you see my email?”
  • Don’t expect a reply immediately – or at all in some cases
  • Don’t send your pitch more than twice (and wait at least two or three days before your follow up sending your follow up)
  • Don’t send gifts
  • Don’t disguise a pitch by complimenting one of their recent pieces

For information on future Gorkana events, check out their site here: http://gorkana.us/events/.

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