Our Leeds PR agency recently had the honour of hosting an evening with Financial Times, Northern Correspondent, Andy Bounds. Andy has been a journalist at the FT for 22 years. He currently covers stories from Yorkshire, Manchester and The Midlands. If you were unable join us on the night, fear not, in this blog we will discuss the key takeaways from Andy’s Q&A session with our very own Tim Sinclair.
Pitching your story to the press
We asked Andy for tips on contacting the press with a story. He said, “I get around 10 pitches per day. I also have Twitter open and look at other publications such as The Times and Yorkshire Post [to find stories]. That means if you have a story, it needs to be pitched at the right time, in the right way. A well-timed press release with relevant information and a few introductory sentences is the best way to pitch a story. PR is about building relationships, so having a chat with a journalist and getting to know a little about them and their interests will serve you well. Even just following on Twitter and introducing yourself to them starts to build a relationship. Before we begin any campaign we conduct research to ensure we are getting your story in front of the right people.
Is the press release dead?
According to Andy, a well-crafted press release is still the key to getting a story covered. However, we need to be mindful that many journalists won’t just use a press release, more often than not they will conduct research and put their own spin on a story. This is a dilemma we often face in the PR industry; clients want final sign off on how a story is published and journalists will never give it. PR professionals at our PR agency in Leeds believe that the key to managing this is good communication. We’re always clear about what clients can expect which helps to ensure a smooth relationship with both the journalist and the client.
When offering up a spokesperson, Andy said the best person is the CEO or business owner, and that person needs to have something to say rather than just offering up opinions. Reaction time is often key in this situation. When an issue is time sensitive, the spokesperson needs to be ready to talk then and there.
The future of the press
Since the birth of the internet, there has been speculation that the press as we know it will cease to exist in the not too distant future. Newspapers cost more to print than they are sold for. Therefore, many believe there will come a time when newspapers become 100% digital.
With this in mind, one of the things our Leeds PR agency wanted to know was, is there any point tailoring stories to the press? We asked Andy for his thoughts on this subject. He said, “I suspect one day we will stop printing papers and just be digital. I don’t think that will be anytime soon, though. The web now has more readers than paper and even has its own team. I think we will always be here, just change how we do it. There is a trend towards audio; we do a daily news podcast. The FT will always have a niche and will always exist maybe just not in physical form.
We’re inclined to agree. In a world of 24 hour rolling news, publications need to be online to keep up with broadcast news. Often by the time newspapers are on shelves the stories in them are ‘old news’. Therefore, publications have adapted in order to stay relevant and compete with the broadcast news industry. While some see this decline in print readership as a negative, our PR agency in Leeds believes this is a positive shift, as individuals now have a great opportunity to use Digital PR to increase website visits and grow their business online. It also means that the success of PR is more measurable than ever.
Our Leeds PR and Social Media agency regularly hold Wolfstar Presents Events, with talks from industry leading speakers and professionals. If you missed this one, don’t miss out next time. Sign up for information on our next event here.