News & Views

Diversity in Today’s Media Landscape — Learnings from PCNY

In September 2018, the Publicity Club of New York (PCNY) hosted an informative lunch-and-learn featuring reporters who cover America’s diverse communities and workforce. The conversation touched on what diversity really means in today’s media landscape, model pitching and the current opportunities for placing stories.



The panelists included:

  • Lauren Brown, Quartz at Work’s “How We’ll Win,” director of special projects
  • Ramon Escobar, CNN, vice president of diversity and inclusion
  • Arwa Gunja, WNYC’s “The Takeaway,” executive producer
  • Kori Hale, CultureBanx, founder
  • Sandra Lilley, NBC Latino, managing editor
  • Janet Paskin, Bloomberg News, editor of the Management/Diversity team

So what did we learn that’s relevant to travel PR pros and economic development professionals?

Journalists Are Inundated with Irrelevant Cold Pitches – So Make Your Pitch Smarter

Multiple panelists stressed the need for more sophisticated storytelling in pitching. While pitches should still be concise, they must convey a zeal for the topic as well as evidence that the pitcher didn’t select the journalist they’re pitching at random.

Pitches that cater to the news cycle or counter popular programming are more likely to be successful. Pitching an individual as an expert source? Make sure to frame the person around the news. Think, “How can this person benefit the producer or editor I am pitching?”

Panelist Janet Paskin noted that publicists should focus on pitching the story they’re still excited about at the end of the day or the story that they’d want to share with a spouse after the workday is over. And if you believe in the pitch strongly enough, don’t be afraid to call a reporter.

Niche Audiences Offer Places a Strong Return on Investment

A focus on niche audiences can provide a high return on investment for PR professionals and clients looking to reach key market segments and outlets with an engaged readership. For example, African-Americans represent one of the largest demographics engaged on social media, yet they are often overlooked when social media partnerships are structured.

Plus, niche outlets are often better able get it right. NBC Latino, for example, has led NBC’s on-the-ground reporting of Hurricane Maria, which allows for more detailed storytelling and a more accurate interpretation of the nuances and language of the people the storm has affected the most. If you have an expert source who can serve as a thought leader, start your pitching by approaching the media outlets most likely to interview them. Those pitches can become a jumping-off point for other media platforms.

Start Rethinking Your Expert Sources

There remains a need for more diverse experts across fields. This need goes beyond diversity or areas like race – where African-Americans are often called in – or Immigration, where we can say the same of Hispanics. At the same time, it’s still difficult to get new voices on air. To put it simply, producers like to work with people they know. No producer wants an on-air gaffe that they could have avoided by working with a tried and true guest.

To start out, panelists recommend that experts looking to foray into editorial or broadcast engagements start by writing editorial pieces to gain notoriety in a field. Building relationships with producers is also helpful. Establishing a strong rapport with media still matters – and it matters even more as reporters get upward of 200 cold pitches a day. Attend events and conferences that interest the media you’re pitching.

Founded in 1940, the Publicity Club of New York is the oldest ongoing organization for public relations professionals in the country. It continues its legacy of hosting events that accelerate the public relations profession and create spaces for publicists and journalists to exchange best practices.

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