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Hearst Editorial Director: We Don’t Read Email Pitches ‘Unless We Know Your Name’

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Several media industry heavyweights took the stage at Bulldog Reporter’s Media Relations Summit today to wax poetic on the future of journalism, future business models, and how us pesky PR professionals can better work with them.

Besides the usual advice you may have heard at every other PR event — “Know the publication/writer before you pitch them.” — the panel did offer up some interesting tidbits. PRNewser took notes before our own speaking engagement at the conference.

Hearst magazines editorial director Ellen Levine was rather blunt when speaking about what it takes to get your email pitch noticed at her company. “We don’t read the emails unless we know your name,” she said, stressing the importance of building a relationship between reporter and PR professional.

Alan Murray, Executive Editor of The Wall Street Journal Online, hinted that it’s amusing PR people don’t know the Journal is competitive with The New York Times. “The worst thing you can put in a pitch to me is, ‘you may have read this in The New York Times,’” he said.

However, if the Journal is going to post a “negative” story about your company or client, you do have time to shape the story. The Journal has a “no surprise rule,” he said, where they have to give someone an opportunity to comment before a story is published. The question is: how long does that opportunity last? It’s becoming increasingly unclear in the digital reporting world, hinted Murray.

Of course, all reporters still want exclusives. “We get hundreds of pitches for ‘desk side meetings,’” said Levine. “In truth, they don’t know who we are, and it’s not exclusive. After you leave my desk, you’re going to go to every other publisher. Exclusives help,” he said.

While most of the audience seemed to find the panel engaging, not everyone did. PRNewser caught a few attendees falling asleep in the front row.

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