CEW: Meet the Press - Our takeaways from the event

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Last night we delved into the ever-changing UK media landscape, and turned it inside out. We explored themes such as how to get the attention of a journalist, what makes a good story and how to successfully convey and adapt your message. We gave our audience members the chance to hear this invaluable advice right from the source: three different journalists working in the growing world of tech and business. Here’s our run-down of how the evening went!

We’d like to begin with a big thank you to all attendees, especially our star-studded panellists. In case you have been living under a rock, we rolled out the red carpet for Amy Lewin from Sifted, Graham Hussey from The Startup Van and Scott Carey from IDG.

The second edition of #CEWMeetThePress kicked off with a warm welcome from our founder and Director Cathy White, to an audience of startup folk and PR professionals. Cathy moderated the panel and gave us food for thought with leading questions such as “What are your biggest pet peeves when receiving pitches from startups?”, “ How important is it to have exclusivity on a story?” and “What makes your job easier?”.

The audience learnt that there is no one-size-fits-all model for a pitch to a journalist and it was incredibly interesting to hear the peeled back, straight-to-the-point and honest answers from the panellists. For a startup founder who is approaching a journalist to cover their story, it can be useful to offer exclusivity on it as a draw to get coverage. This sentiment was shared across the panel, with Amy noting that if “someone can read it from someone else, I’m less inclined to cover it” and for Scott it’s often that “umph” that he needs to get his engine revving, as it’s “a nice way to push a story over the top”.

But, if you can’t offer exclusivity, or your story isn’t revolving on it, then all hope is not lost. There are hoards of publications in the UK media landscape, and they are all different. Just take The Startup Van, for example. Graham offered an insight into how they cover a story, and illustrated how exclusivity is not the holy grail, saying that for him it’s less relevant and they “sniff out if there is another part to the story”, which there probably is.

Turn your story on its head, hold it by the ankles and shake it until the loose change falls out of its pockets. Think of new angles that are not instinctually obvious, and pitch them. There are publications out there that are after a nuanced view, you just need to offer it to them.

Building relationships
If you thought that calling journalists was the best way to get in contact with them, then think again. Amy let us know her distaste for monotonous pitching phone calls and although this feeling was not shared entirely by the other panellists, they all did note that it can get quite annoying.

Meeting in person is better in most cases and it often builds a rapport with that journalist. The age-old trusty email pitch was heralded as the best way to contact our panellists. But, not just any old “Hiya, can you run this story, pretty plz?”. You need to send a squeaky clean and sparkling email pitch. This should include a fully functioning Press Kit (with great image options!), a clear subject line, an eloquent and completely informative pitch and full contact details to boot. Don’t try and find other ways of contacting journalists such as carrier pigeon, Hedwig or DMing them on their personal Instagram. It won’t work, it’s intrusive and email exists for a reason.

Throughout the evening, we were live tweeting the golden nuggets of advice that engulfed the room and these were warmly received in the Twittersphere. Some highlights were:

  • Amy exclaiming her adoration for our newsletter, The Communications Workshop

  • Scott expressing facts like “Don’t butter us up for the sake of buttering us up”

  • If you work in small business banking, or the founder mental health sector, for a company with good parenting policies, to a mattress company or for Babylon Health, get in touch with Amy!

  • Finding out that Scott’s pet peeves are the letters ‘ICO’ and pitches revolving solely around the premise that the founder is young or female. Make it more interesting!

Check out our Twitter for more content from the event and be sure to follow us to keep up to date with everything CEW. We will be hosting another edition of this event in the upcoming months, so stay tuned for details!

BY JAMIE GRIFFIN, JUNIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE AT CEW COMMS.