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MEDIA RELATIONS 101: SEASONED BUSINESS REPORTER GIVES US THE SCOOP ON STORY SELECTION, GOOD & BAD INTERVIEWS

April 12, 2013

mysteryreporterI hear it from all of my clients: I want business press! Of course, a stellar hit in a coveted business publication can raise the profile of a business, founder or success story. But getting into a business publication – in print or online – requires a few “must haves.” Speaking to me on condition of anonymity for this blog post, a seasoned reporter for a leading business site shares his tips below.

KR: How does your news desk manage story selection? How do you decide what to cover and who makes the cut?

My story selection is often determined by a combination of the news flow, main areas of the financial world that I find most compelling and what is most likely to interest our readers. Whether or not their names end up appearing in a story and the timing of the story’s publication can sometimes be up to the editor, not the reporter.

How do you decide who to source in an article? How do you find your sources?

I find sources for my articles through a variety of methods, including through colleagues, pitches by PR reps and by seeing their names in print and on TV elsewhere.

What are you looking for in a pitch from a company?

The most helpful pitches for sources are emails that feature individuals who are directly related to topics I have recently covered. Phone pitches may interrupt reporters on deadline and put them on the spot.

How is your Editor involved in the story and source discussion?

After pitching a story, I often receive guidance from my editor for specific areas to focus on, types of sources to reach out to and ways to make the story more understandable.

What are you looking for in a source, during an interview?

The best interviewees have an in-depth knowledge of the topic at hand, answer questions candidly, don’t veer off topic and are able to succinctly sum up their thoughts in quotable nuggets.

What can frustrate you during an interview with a source?

In general, reporters are often frustrated when sources refuse to answer questions directly and only talk about what they want to talk about. That often won’t help the story and just wastes the time of both reporter and source.

It can also be frustrating when sources, in an effort to avoid being quoted saying something controversial, speak in carefully-worded and vague generalities

What are best practices for interviews with you? How do you wish sources would prepare?

The best sources don’t need to prepare much for an interview besides staying up-to-date on the latest news. It may be helpful to see what, if anything, the reporter and media outlet have covered on the topic in the past.

Want more tips? Make sure to check out my past Media Relations 101 posts here.

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