Week 4 Guest Speaker Roundup – by Amanda Brocato

A Conversation with Melissa Robinson of Weber Shandwick; and Tara Settembre of The Walt Disney Company & When Tara Met Blog

By UCLA X425 Student Amanda Brocato

Newsflash: Media’s gone “social,” but the old pitching rules still apply.

As Melissa Robinson, Senior VP of Consumer Products and Digital Communications at Weber Sandwick explained to our class last week, the first rule of thumb is “people first.” We all know that relationships are important…they can get you far, and better yet, get your clients placed. Why should it be any different with bloggers? Get to know them, research what they write about, make an effort…it’s no different than pitching someone at the NY Times people.

The second rule? Make it easy. Hey, I’m not saying that journalists are lazy. I’m just reiterating what all of us in the media and communications industries already know: journalists are overwhelmed. Since the 24-hour news cycle has become the 24-second news cycle, more and more “traditional” journalists are tasked with also taking their stories online.

According to Tara Settembre, Publisher of When Tara Met Blog and PR Manager at the Walt Disney Company, providing multimedia assets to a blogger can make your pitch more appealing. Why’s that? Because even bloggers have to differentiate the stories they post from the millions of others going up online at that moment. Adding photos and video to a story makes it more appealing to the reader, and that’s what bloggers want, readers. Alright PR pro, by sending video along with your bulleted pitch you:

a.) Provide content that is visually stimulating

b.) Make it really easy for the blogger to post

c.) Gain some credibility with your new contact …now he/she knows that you make it easy for them, and they’ll be inclined to work with you again in the future.

The third rule? Create a strategy. Just because it’s not “traditional” media doesn’t mean that it should be an afterthought. The only way to stay ahead of the story, help shape the news and ensure that you stay relevant in a changing industry is to treat these new social media opportunities with some respect… go on, build a social media strategy already. And if you’re smart, you can do as Robinson advises, “Start your social media campaign at the same time as your creative campaign.”

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