Michael Smart delivered a solid repeat performance on June 29 of his two half-day workshops: Pitching Bootcamp and Building Media Relationships

Session One – Pitching Bootcamp: by Ana Pinilla, BusinessWire

Michael SmartThe Morning Session “Pitching Bootcamp” started with Michael talking about the problems PR practitioners can encounter when pitching journalists and went on to offer his “pitching playbook” where he discussed several examples of how to do it right – starting off with turning a press release from boring to glowing – making it into something newsworthy that journalists will want to use as part of their reporting.  It’s also about finding the angle for the story – one that could be holiday or seasonally related, a story with human impact, or even proximity to where we live and work, as well as other ideas. Michael went on to discuss the anatomy of a perfect pitch that included appropriate phone and/or email introductions and how to deliver the story with speed and interest. But with all this being said, success also depends on knowing the journalists – what they write about and knowing their style. What was particularly helpful was that Michael provided audio and video examples of pitches – with lots of do’s and don’ts – that made it all so much easier and real to attendees.


Session Two – Going Beyond the Pitch: Why Relationship Building Matters: by , News Generation

Michael SmartAs PR pros, we know the importance of building and strengthening our relationships with reporters. This was the focus of PRSA-NCC’s recent series of workshops with media relations expert Michael Smart. During the workshops, Smart offered participants hands-on, practical tips and social media suggestions on how to engage and build relationships with members of the media.

The most important theme he stressed is that you must invest in your relationships with the media. Invest the time and brain space. It is a critical component of your job and helps us be more effective at what we do.

Also, pay attention to what journalists are covering. Engage with their material. Show them that you are following them, that you genuinely care about what they’re reporting. Doing so will help separate you from other PR pros. Learn their style and pitch them in a personal, customized way, and become a credible resource to journalists. When pitching, it’s equally important to show that that we’re respectful of a journalist’s time and deadlines.

(*re-published from News Generation: http://www.newsgeneration.com/2016/07/01/relationship-building-matters-michael-smart-prsa/)


Chocolates, Roses and Face Time

February’s hearts and chocolates encourage people to spend time together, if for one day. Use this festive spirit as a reminder in your professional life as well: make time for your clients.

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily routine of news clips, pitching, writing and meetings. We forget to take a deep breath and brainstorm – especially in an agency atmosphere. The same applies to those of us who work for organizations in-house.

When you take a moment to have a conversation with your clients, or departments, that doesn’t involve the approval process, you might be surprised what you learn.

Discover new opportunities. Your clients or co-workers may be busy in their own daily routines and neglect to tell you about an exciting new thing or event. You might be able to use the new information you learn in your current communications, or find opportunities to promote other services.

Feeling snubbed. It’s easier for the employees of an organization to keep track of what’s coming out of the communications shop than it is for multiple clients to monitor everything its agency is working on – but both can feel neglected. A simple call or walk down the hallway can help make sure your clients and co-workers are being represented.

Building relationships. Getting face time may do nothing else but build on your relationship, which is accomplishing plenty. Checking in with your contacts will help them remember you’re there to help. Maybe the next time a new and exciting thing is coming down the road, you won’t have to “discover” it; you’re client or co-worker will think of you first.

What will you learn when you make a little time for your contacts?


Heather Stegner is the governmental communications manager for Ducks Unlimited, the world leader in wetlands conservation. She’s also spent 5+ years working in full-service communications agencies. Follow her on Twitter @PlumHeather.