Podcast: Mark Garber: Pamplin Media Group

Podcast: Mark Garber: Pamplin Media Group

The Importance of Community Newspapers
A Conversation with Pamplin Media Group

We all have a sense of the power that The New York Times or even The Oregonian wield, but less appreciated is the influence of a Beaverton Valley Times or a Forest Grove News Times and the countless other community newspapers around Portland’s metro area and across the nation.

But PR professionals understand the power of local papers for their clients, where getting in front of local communities is critical to their success.

In this episode of PR Talk, I sat down with Mark Garber, publisher of the Pamplin Media Group.

We talked about the history of the Pamplin Media Group, the role of a publisher, as well as the current challenges community newspapers are facing and what that may mean for PR professionals.

The Pamplin Media Group owns and publishes 25 papers throughout Oregon, 21 of which are published weekly or twice weekly. Its flagship paper is the Portland Tribune, which was founded in 2001. Some of the other papers in the group have been publishing more than 100 years.

Mark has a long career in newspapers. He studied journalism at the University of South Carolina and started his career as a reporter at a newspaper near the university covering cops and city government.

Later, he moved to Oregon and worked at a number of community newspapers in the Portland metro area. About 10 years into his career, he transitioned to publishing community newspapers in Gresham and Springfield. He was the publisher of the East Oregonian in Pendleton before joining the Portland Tribune/Pamplin Media Group in 2001.

He said you can think of a publisher as the CEO of the business of a newspaper.

“All departments within a newspaper ultimately report to the publisher,” Mark said in our interview. “And the publisher is the one link traditionally between the news side and the advertising side and the circulation side. Newspapers traditionally have operated with a pretty good separation between news and advertising. But there are times when those two aspects of the business do work together. And publishers provide that link and can essentially work with both sides of the business to achieve overall goals. In the digital age, those lines are getting more and more blurred and there is more and more cooperation between the news and advertising side.”

 

What is the difference between what is published online and in print?

Mark said it is not always that different what is being published online and what is being published in the newspapers.

“We put all the breaking news online obviously and then a lot of that news by the time our print editions come out, because we’re either weekly or twice a week, might not be all that relevant anymore,” he said. “We’re daily or actually more than a daily online; and in our printed editions, we try to be a little more reflective of what’s happened over the past few days.”

In terms of community news – the on-the-ground coverage of all of the communities, whether it’s Prineville, Madras, Gresham, Lake Oswego or Beaverton – Pamplin’s newspapers are one of the only remaining sources with reporters covering those communities.

 

The print and digital audiences for newspapers

More than 350,000 people read one of the Pamplin publications in print each month.

But more than 1 million people are coming to their websites each week and consuming the news there in some form or another.

That is a huge digital audience.

“And you know the interesting thing about that is they want the same thing that the print readers want, they just want it in a different form,” Mark said. “And there’s not a lot of overlap between those two audiences.”

Mark said one of the things that surprised him is that those are two distinct audiences. “Some people only read us in print, and some people only read us digitally. And it’s not all generational, but certainly there’s an age factor there, too.”

His point is that within their group of publications, they are delivering that advertising or marketing message with content about the local community within a geographic area that people care about.

“And whether it’s in print or on digital, we can help deliver that marketing message and still be very targeted in how we do it,” Mark said.

Pamplin Media Group Papers

Making money in newspapers and what that means for PR

As Mark points out, producing all that local news is a big investment with more than 100 news people around the state. And the evolution of newspapers and increased competition from other players – such as Craigslist – has meant changing the business model for newspapers with more native advertising or the addition of paywalls to digital sites.

Mark said they have added paywalls to some of the newspapers’ websites, which is something I said worried PR pros who are concerned their clients won’t see the benefit of getting in a publication if the public can’t freely access it.

Mark understood my concern, but also made a couple of interesting points.

“One is that if someone is willing to pay for the news, and this is pretty much true of our print subscribers, they’re households who have discretionary income, they’re a higher demographic typically,” Mark said. “And they are people who are interested in their communities and want to know what’s happening with their school district, with their city government, with their neighbors, and they’re actively involved citizens. It’s a very highly desirable demographic for any business to reach.”

He said they are aware of the challenges paywalls bring to promoting stories on social. One way they’ll address this is by adding more to the content being shared on social so readers have a better sense of the story.

And, he said, paywalls don’t require an annual subscription. He said readers can pay a low cost to be able to access one particular story.

Whether its social or other unforeseen challenges, Mark said, they are tracking visitor traffic to the sites with paywalls to make sure they don’t dramatically lose readers.

 

PR tips from a publisher

I asked Mark if he had any pro tips for how PR people can better get into their local newspapers and, specifically, the Portland Tribune. In addition to Mark’s tips, I recommend listening to PR Talk episode 13 for our interview with Gary Stein, editor for the Lake Oswego Review, one of the Pamplin papers, for more in-depth tips.

Mark had two excellent tips: make it local and establish connections.

It may be a bit harder to do, but Mark said by localizing your PR message to “each community or as many communities as you can, that’s going to greatly increase the chances that item’s going to get in the paper because a local person is involved.”

His second tip is it is much more helpful to establish some sort of personal connection or relationship with the reporter or the editor at the paper. He said his reporters and editors “get literally hundreds, if not thousands, of e-mails every day.”

A press release sent by a stranger may not even get read if it comes as an e-mail. But if you could establish a relationship with that person, take them out to coffee or even just have a couple phone conversations with them, or to drop by the office to say, “Hey, this is who I am and here’s the type of news that I’d like to send you. How can I do that in a way that is helpful to you?”

“Then when you send an email, the reporter will think, ‘I know Amy. I know she’s interested in giving me legitimate news.’ I think that is a good thing.”

 

About the guest: Mark Garber

Mark Garber is President and Publisher of Pamplin Media Group. He received a BS in Journalism from the University of South Carolina in 1977. Since then, he has worked at numerous newspapers and publishing companies both in the eastern US and in Oregon, including those in Gresham, Pendleton, Springfield, and Portland. As Pamplin’s President and Publisher, he oversees all of its operations. 

Connect and follow Mark on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Kaia Sand: Street Roots

Podcast: Kaia Sand: Street Roots

Celebrating 20 Years of Street Roots with Executive Director Kaia Sand

Street Roots vendors are a Portland institution. You’ve probably passed by them at some point, maybe outside a New Seasons or Powell’s. These vendors tend to stand out because they are experiencing homelessness or extreme poverty, yet they partner with Street Roots to sell their papers. This partnership allows them to pocket much more than a profit, but also dignity in an honest day’s work and connection with their customers, who are people like you and me.

In this episode of the PR Talk Podcast, host Amy Rosenberg sets out to learn more about this important publication and how it can fit into a PR professional’s media plan during an interview with Street Roots executive director Kaia Sand.

A Social Justice Focus

Despite only being in her current position for a year, Kaia Sand has had a long relationship with Street Roots. Back when it was known as the Burnside Cadillac, Kaia worked as a staff reporter covering housing issues. She went on to write poetry (you can find her books at Powell’s), work as a community organizer, and teach in universities. She’s also worked in conjunction with the paper and its vendors on projects related to the ethnic history of Portland’s Old Town, now known as the Pearl. Today, she manages the organization’s day-to-day operations and its fundraising efforts.

Some community members have the mistaken impression that Street Roots is written by people experiencing homelessness. But that’s not the case. As Kaia explains it, the newspaper is staffed by a team of professional reporters. And while its coverage is certainly rooted in issues of housing and homelessness, Street Roots’ reporting has evolved to cover all types of social, economic, and environmental justice issues.

 

Providing Vendors a Hand Up

Every week, Street Roots publishes 10,000 print copies which are distributed throughout the city by its 180 vendors. In a relationship that’s common in the newspaper industry, vendors purchase papers from Street Roots and then sell them to their customers for a profit. What makes Street Roots unique is that its vendors are made up exclusively of people living on the margins.

The paper’s commitment to producing quality journalism on topics that are often ignored by other media outlets, along with a business model offering a lifeline to vulnerable citizens, has earned Street Roots a loyal readership around town. However, the paper’s readership is also growing throughout the state, due to its ongoing Housing Rural America series. Thanks to funding provided by a grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust’s Affordable Housing Initiative, Street Roots sends journalists outside the metro area to places like Ontario, Lincoln City, and Bend to explore housing issues from a rural perspective.

 

Reliant on Individual Donors

Street Roots operates as a nonprofit, and as such, relies heavily on the support of individual donors. Through the end of 2018, Street Roots will be featured in Willamette Week’s annual Give Guide, which highlights some of Portland’s most impactful nonprofits. You can also help support their mission by clicking the donate button on the Street Roots home page.

Plans are also in the works for a larger summer event recognizing the paper’s 20th anniversary. Kaia says she wants the event to celebrate Street Root’s longevity and its positive spirit of bringing housed and homeless people together.

Street Roots volunteers work stuffing newspapers with donation envelopes

Street Roots volunteers work stuffing newspapers with donation envelopes

Is There a Place for PR?

While Street Roots is doing important work in the community, Amy wondered if its focused coverage leaves much room for the PR professional. Kaia explained that if PR pros are working on issues related to social, economic, or environmental justice, they’re encouraged to contact executive editor Joanne Zuhl. The paper also features extensive coverage on local culture, celebrity news, art, music, and entertainment. So smart PR pros should consider Street Roots as part of their media mix.

 

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Kaia ended her interview with something of a rallying cry for the newspaper’s supporters, readers, and vendors.

“Just when you think that print might be dead, somehow we’re on the rise. There’s something really powerful about people meeting people in a public space and exchanging news. And we’re determined to keep that.”

To hear the entire interview, including a discussion of Portland’s ongoing housing and homeless crises, download this episode today. To hear future episodes, and to access the catalog of previous episodes, subscribe to PR Talk on Sticher, iTunes, or the Google Play store.

About the guest: Kaia Sand

Kaia Sand is the Executive Director of Street Roots. She has worked as a poet, artist, community organizer, and university professor. Beginning two decades ago as a volunteer, much of her work has focused on economic injustice and homelessness.

Connect and follow Kaia on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

PRSA Oregon Event: IComms: The Best Career You’ve Never Heard Of

PRSA Oregon Event: IComms: The Best Career You’ve Never Heard Of

PR Talk is deepening our partnership with PRSA Oregon to bring their event content to more members and the public at large. Of course, attending these valuable events live is your best option. But if you can’t make it, you can now hear what you missed.

This PR Talk Podcast was recorded live at PRSA Oregon’s:

IComms: The Best Career You’ve Never Heard Of

Communication and HR professionals and students joined PRSA Oregon to hear from a panel of experts on Internal Communications.

Description:

Communication and human resources pros from OHSU, Port of Portland, Pac/West Communications and Meyer Memorial Trust participated in an informational panel and Q&A session focused on the rapidly growing fields of internal communications and employee engagement. Attendees (and now listeners) learned how internal communications shapes brands inside and outside, and improves recruitment and employee performance, engagement and satisfaction.

The event was hosted by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Oregon Chapter and the PSU Department of Communication.

Panelists:

Lise Harwin, APR

Lise Harwin, APR

Internal Communications Manager, Port of Portland

Kelly Bantle

Kelly Bantle

Vice President, Pac/West Communications

Kimberly A.C. Wilson

Kimberly A.C. Wilson

Director of Communications, Meyer Memorial Trust

Patrick Holmes

Patrick Holmes

Associate Director, Strategic Communications, OHSU

Moderator:

Pete Donahue
Internal Communications Manager, Johnson Controls

Host:

Brittany Goltry
Interim Assistant Director, Marketing & Communications, Campus Rec & Student Union Services, Portland State University

Questions discussed during the event include:

In a single sentence define what internal communications means to you?

As practitioners that have worked in both internal & external, what are key differences in each and how do they align?

Explain the internal communications function at your organization and talk about the relationship between your company culture, employee engagement and overall company brand.

What do you do all day?

Define strategy & tactics.

What skill set and personal qualities are you looking for in hiring internal communicators?

How do you break into internal communications?

What are the myths of internal communications?

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Sunny Sea Gold: High Profile Health Writer

Podcast: Sunny Sea Gold: High Profile Health Writer

Glamour, Seventeen and Redbook—Oh my!
Sunny Sea Gold Spreads a Message of
Body Positivity Among Them All.

On this week’s episode of the PR Talk podcast, Amy Rosenberg sits down for a revealing conversation with author and content creator Sunny Sea Gold about her time working in the world of New York fashion magazines, how her personal struggle with binge-eating and body dysmorphia led her to advocate for change within the industry, and tips PR pros can use when pitching to these often-intimidating organizations.

Change Comes from Within

People like Sunny Sea Gold are the reason we’re seeing a more body-positive attitude in the media. During her years working as an editor at well-known publications like Glamour, Seventeen, and Redbook, Sunny pushed behind-the-scenes for better representation for people of all body shapes, and that led to real change. Today, women like Jess Baker, Tess Holliday, and Jessamyn Stanley are appearing in the most famous fashion magazines in the world and helping redefine what the words health and beauty really mean.

But it didn’t come easy for Sunny. When she landed her first big job out of college in the early 2000’s editing the health and wellness coverage for Glamour magazine, the industry had only just begun to reckon with the negative impact they were having on the culture. Sunny has been open with her struggles with binge-eating and body-dysmorphia — which was the subject of her 2011 book, Food: The Good Girl’s Drug — and at times struggled working in such an image and diet-obsessed environment.

Ultimately her experiences led her to begin advocating for change and speaking up about what she saw in magazine culture. She didn’t always get her way, but she was always listened to, which helped advance her larger cause. For Sunny, these efforts are about reflecting real people, because “every single person — no matter what kind of body they’re in — deserves our respect and deserves to be seen.”

 

A Difficult World to Break Into

This is a PR podcast, of course, so Amy was very interested in hearing Sunny’s tips for how PR pros can get the attention of editors in a very competitive New York magazine market. Sunny began by reminding listeners that the publishing world has changed pretty dramatically over the last few years. There have been lots of layoffs and lots of magazine closures which means compressed staffs are being asked to do more than ever before. As a result, it could take months before some staff members can even respond to an email. So if you don’t get a response, don’t take it personally. They’re just that busy.

When you do pitch, Sunny recommends putting a lot of thought into what you’re sending to make sure it really fits what the publication produces. Sunny cited Reader’s Digest as an example. Since they publish a lot of listicles, pitches that take this into account stand a much better chance of being accepted than those that don’t.

Beyond that, Sunny believes it comes down to connections. She recommends that PR pros do whatever they can to land “desk-side” meetings with lower-level editorial employees: titled editorial assistant, assistant editor, or associate editor. As Sunny puts it, these people typically “are open-minded, hungry for relationships, and hungry for ideas.” Desk-side meetings also provide PR pros with the opportunity to put a face with a name, and they can often get better responses from someone they know in person. And if you do land a desk-side, make sure to diligently maintain your contacts because you’ll never know who that young staffer will end up becoming.

 

Subscribe to Hear More

Though she’s no longer directly employed by the magazine world, Sunny continues her advocacy and education work by writing about parenting and body image for publications like Reader’s Digest, health.com, Elle, Parent’s Magazine, and Refinery 29. She also works with clients on branded content and helps clients make connections with people she still knows in the publishing industry.

To hear the entire interview, including more about Sunny’s struggle with binge eating and her life in the New York magazine world, click through or subscribe to PR talk on Stitcher, iTunes, or the Google Play store.

About the guest: Sunny Sea Gold

Sunny Sea Gold is a sought-after journalist and book author with expertise in women’s issues, health, psychology, obesity, body image, and parenting. She has more than a decade of experience telling stories and leading editorial strategy for some of the country’s largest and most well-known print and digital publications including Glamour, Fast Company, Reader’s Digest, Parents, WebMD, and O, the Oprah Magazine. As a consultant, she leverages her journalistic sensibility and deep understanding of the social, digital, and print-media landscapes to craft strategic communications plans for select corporate clients and thought leaders.

Connect and follow Sunny Sea Gold on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Dan Cook: Wikipedia

Podcast: Dan Cook: Wikipedia

Stop Fearing Wikipedia: Dan Cook’s Advice on this Powerful Platform

Over his thirty-year career, Dan Cook has worked as a staff journalist in five different markets, including stops at the Portland Business Journal and Reuters. That work put him in regular contact with public relations professionals of all stripes, and as he notes early on in this interview with PR Talk host Amy Rosenberg, “I’ve learned how to find the ones who can really deliver and I hang onto them for dear life.”

These days, Dan wears many hats. He covers healthcare and benefits trends for BenefitsPro and Benefits Selling Magazine. In this role he works closely with PR pros and throughout his conversation with Amy offered important insight on how they can work collaboratively with the news media.

Dan also works as a communications consultant for To the Point Collaborative, spending most of his time helping clients navigate through the murky waters of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia as a PR Tool? Dan Says YES!

As a Wikipedia consultant, Dan teaches clients how to ethically write and edit their own articles on the world’s online encyclopedia. Most PR pros understand how valuable a good Wikipedia listing is for their clients, but avoid the platform altogether because of its intimidating environment. But instead of fearing the site, Dan feels strongly that PR pros should learn how to use Wikipedia correctly.  

As Dan explains, Wikipedia is run by a group of volunteer editors who take great pains to ensure that every new article and every new edit meets a tight set of community standards. It’s not uncommon to see poorly written or improperly sourced articles pulled down from the site, or for unscrupulous paid editors to receive outright bans.

Proper sourcing is everything on Wikipedia and many paid editors run into trouble when they try to support what they’ve written with external links. According to Wikipedia’s rules, an article cannot link back to a company’s web page. However, if an article can link to sources that were written and edited by a credible third-party–such as a news outlet–it has a great chance of staying live. In Dan’s view, this is where PR pros can shine.

Whenever possible, PR pros should include important factual information in their press releases like the number of employees, key clients, services areas, etc., even if they’re not related to the main subject of the release. That way, any resulting press coverage could potentially be used to support a company’s Wikipedia page.  

Dan offered these additional tips for PR pros interested in getting started on Wikipedia:

  • Contrary to popular opinion, conflicts of interest and paid editing are NOT banned on Wikipedia. In fact, volunteer editors appreciate paid editors who approach the platform correctly.
  • With this in mind, paid editors should be transparent on Wikipedia by choosing their own usernames and not logging in using client accounts.
  • Articles should be written objectively and refrain from sales messaging.

Through To the Point Collaborative, Dan offers Wikipedia training programs that walk clients through the process of creating a transparent Wikipedia account, writing an ideal article draft, or implementing changes to an existing article. Dan also holds occasional Wikipedia “edit-a-thons” where he walks a group through the process of writing an article from start to finish.

PR pros who would like to add this important skill to their communications toolkit can reach out to Dan for more information.

About the guest: Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a writer and researcher. He is a former Portland Business Journal Editor and Reuters reporter. Was on staff at nonprofits Morrison Child & Family Services and Special Olympics Oregon. Currently, he works with To the Point Collaborative as a copywriter, editor, Wikipedia consultant and communications strategist.

Connect and follow Dan on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Podcast: Bruce Williams: KGW Media Group

Podcast: Bruce Williams: KGW Media Group

KGW’s Ultimate Gatekeeper, Bruce Williams, Tells it Like it Is

Assignment Editor turned “Content Discovery Editor”

I would consider Bruce Williams to be THE source at KGW. A million years ago I would have called him the “Assignment Editor,” but in a world of tweets, chats, and millennials, Bruce’s title has changed to Content Discovery Editor. This is because his role has shifted beyond what you see on TV to include duties for social media and the KGW website.

Back in an easier time, the Assignment Editor was the person I envisioned to be somewhat in charge of the newsroom’s operations for that day. It was their job to scan the news and determine what was going to be covered with the entire team’s input. The Assignment Editor would then “assign” the stories to the reporters and cameras available to them for that day. Basically, this was the person you needed to talk to the day you wanted your story to run for last-minute news.

The Reimagined Role of the Assignment Editor

And….drumroll please….fancy title or not, Bruce is still the person you need to talk with. As I strutted into Bruce’s domain, he showed me his command center, which used to be called the “assignment desk” and now I believe it is called something cooler, but I don’t remember. Centered in the middle of the newsroom, a circular desk equipped with various computer systems and police scanners is slightly perched above the other newsroom desks so they “can yell out across to the other teams.” Wherever you are, whatever you’re working on, if it’s TV news, this is the desk you are calling and the person who answers is the person you need to speak with to garner “day of” or sometimes next day news. Do not confuse this person with the receptionist.

As I kicked off the interview, completely flabbergasted by Bruce’s new title, I wondered how I would communicate that I needed the “assignment editor” now that the long-standing term used in newsrooms across America was no longer valid.

Bruce clarified a new term for me. “You need to know who your gatekeeper is.” Yes! That is exactly it! Bruce went on to possibly confuse us further by saying that the gatekeeper varies from newsroom to newsroom—mentioning that there are a group of gatekeepers at KGW depending on what the story is. Bruce tells us you could go straight to a reporter if your story aligns with a specific beat, to an Executive Producer, or to the web team. But I’ll just add, when all else fails or if you aren’t sure, go to someone like Bruce, whom I consider the ultimate gatekeeper.

Bruce Williams KGW Desk

The Sacred Morning Meeting

Even though no two days are the same in the world of news, envisioning Bruce’s daily schedule might help you wrap your head around how a newsroom operates. Arriving at work before 5:30 a.m., he checks in with the sunrise team to see what they are working on, searches twitter and Facebook, along with the mountain of new emails, and formulates a plan to get available crews out the door covering stories.

The infamous “morning meeting” happens at 9:30 a.m. This is when all the crews come in to discuss story ideas and a plan is formed. If you want day-of news you need to get your information over to them before this time and make sure they are discussing your news at the morning meeting. Of course you would email the information to them, but you can’t assume they received it. I find that a phone call works better than telepathy for checking in. Bruce assures us that he’s happy to take phone calls, saying that he’ll even give you a read on if he thinks something will get covered if you call at the right time—between 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. Do not call at 9:30 a.m. (during the morning meeting) nor at 2:30 p.m. because that is when he’s off for the day.

 

The Newsroom Email Address

Bruce reminds us that every newsroom has a generic newsroom email address. KGW’s is [email protected]. If you send your pitch here and it’s compact enough, incorporating a coverage date, it will likely be put in a file for future coverage.

 

The Best Time for a Press Event

Speaking of timing, next I asked Bruce my second favorite question. When is a good time of day for a press event? Sure enough, he answered 10 – 10:30 a.m. if you want to get on the noon news and possibly subsequent shows throughout the afternoon and evening. For general news he said that nighttime events don’t work well, unless the station has a live field reporter (but that wouldn’t be general news, now would it?), or it’s really unique or visual.

 

The Self-Directed Newsroom

Bruce also reminded us that if the event is visual, but stations can’t make it out, you can shoot your own video and/or take your own pictures and send those over for TV stations to air. He assured us that what you capture doesn’t need to be perfect. “Think about what you see on social media, it’s not perfect.” We can submit those through Dropbox or a YouSendIt file.

 

The type of stories Bruce is looking for

  • Things people are talking about.
  • What people are sharing on social media.
  • Local ties to a big national or international story.
  • Is there a visual aspect?
  • Incorporating real people the station can talk to.
  • A benefit to the audience.

 

Bruce’s PR pet peeves:

Luckily for us, Bruce is a pretty easy going guy but he was able to come up with a few PR pet peeves, when asked.

  • PR people that reach out to the press with story pitches, only to be unable to be reached soon after. If it’s time sensitive, make yourself available!
  • PR people who don’t want them to show up with a camera (after sending a pitch to a TV station!?!).

Even though social media and the internet have turned TV news operations into a 24-hour cycle, Bruce’s main function remains the same. In the same way, Bruce’s advice for PR people mirrors this concept. If building relationships and doing whatever it takes to help your contacts sounds like a lot of work, it is. Just as the internet hasn’t yet created a way to take the hustle out of PR, it certainly hasn’t augmented the role of the traditional Assignment Editor quite yet.

About the guest: Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams is the Senior Assignment Manager for the KGW Content Discovery Center at KGW Media Group. Bruce has been with KGW for nearly 10 years and has been in the media world for three decades. He is a(nother) graduate of the Washington State University broadcast journalism school and a huge Cougars sports fan. He’s also the gatekeeper, leading the decisions on where cameras and reporters go.

Connect and follow Bruce on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Featured image courtesy of Tim Mossholder