Flying above the media's radar
At the BIO 2005 conference earlier this week I participated in a panel discussion entitled "Guerrilla Media Tactics: Getting MORE Media Attention Without News."
At the BIO 2005 conference earlier this week I participated in a panel discussion entitled "Guerrilla Media Tactics: Getting MORE Media Attention Without News." Part of the Public Relations/Investor Relations track, this session probably flew below the radar of most scientists attending the conference. But there were plenty of corporate communication- and PR-types in the audience.
The panel, consisting of yours truly plus writers and editors from Fortune magazine, the Wall Street Journal Online, Red Herring, and the Forbes/Gottlieb Report, each weighed in on how best to pitch a story to a news organization, what works, what doesn't, pet peeves, and so on.
The panel member's statements held no surprises really. Case in point: You'll get a better reception if you pitch a story directly at the magazine, for instance, rather than sending some generic boilerplate text. (In other words, don't send The Scientist a story idea about particle accelerators, because we don't cover physics.)
But there are ways to get our attention if you want it, even if you have no news (i.e., product launches, new publications, or clinical trials) to report. First, check out our editorial calendar (available at http://www.the-scientist.com/info/adinfo/adinfo) and see if your client or company has a business interest that intersects the topics we'll be discussing. Then, offer yourself (or your client) up as a background source for relevant stories. Journalists are always hungry for knowledgeable people that can comment on a story's significance. Finally, help us find users of your drug/widget/instrument for case studies -- comments from users are particularly useful to our readers, but locating them can be challenging if the company chooses not to provide their names.
The short answer, then, is to be as helpful as possible. Journalists, I think, always remember a useful source, and will go back to them again and again, even if only for background material.