Thursday, August 26, 2010

Researching online what reporters want: 12 easy pieces

Media relations folks can often be caught muttering, "What do reporters want?"  If you want to stop feeling like a short-order cook in a joint without a menu, you need to start anticipating what they want, based on real insights. And while reporters are tougher to buttonhole in person on that score, there are loads of online options for sussing out reporter preferences. Here are 12 examples of sites that will help you figure out what reporters want (or don't), divided into column A and column B, just in case anyone wants to place an order:

In the what-not-to-do column:

  • The New York Times tech reporter David Pogue often shares his unvarnished views of "PR people" (just search that term on his blog or article archive).  Here's "A Downside of Being a Tech Reporter" as one pithy example of What Not to Do.
  • Follow-up calls (as in, "Did you get the email?) are on this list, according to a panel of reporters I moderated.
  • The Bad Pitch Blog, while written by public relations folks, must be the guilty pleasure reading for many frustrated reporters. Read it if only to keep yourself from being featured someday.
  • Embargoes are amply covered by Ivan Oransky's Embargo Watch blog.  And while Ivan's generous in noting organizations that do a good job managing embargoes, always tricky, there are enough kids-don't-try-this-at-home cautionary tales that I think it belongs in this column.  (The latest: the retro-bargo, in which news is released after the time on the embargo. Huh?)
In the what-to-do column:
If you've got a go-to source for sussing out reporters' needs, share it in the comments.
    Check out don't get caught on Facebook, where I'm floating ideas and discussing them before they appear on the blog.  It's shaping up as a great networking community for communicators.

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