“Unique ideas often start with pitches, and many are surprising”, according to Breanne Heldman, New York bureau chief at Yahoo! Entertainment. She was speaking on a PRSA NY panel on Tuesday about placing entertainment stories.
Other panelists included::
• Lauren Brown, Site Director, Ok! Magazine.com
• James Chairman, New York Bureau Producer, E! News
• Erin Clements, Celebrity News Editor, The Huffington Post
• Paola Leva, News Director, In Touch Weekly
• Benjamin Wagner, Senior Vice President, MTV News
Below are their tips for breaking through the clutter with original, creative pitches leading to mutually productive relationships. Some appear self-evident, but may be worth repeating.
1.Celebrities promoting brands: These types of stories provide access, Clements said. The outlets will touch upon the brand tie-in, then cover the celebrity’s work. As Heldman added, sometimes it’s even funny, as when they interviewed a pregnant celebrity plugging a rum brand on St. Patrick’s day. All she could do was mention what she’d like to be drinking.
2.Exclusive content is highly desirable, or at least most media outlets prefer to receive it first. As Brown observed, “nothing is really exclusive online anymore, because once it goes online it’s fair game”. But if her site posts an item early on, their readers will share it and build the outlet’s own social media following.
3.Story extension ideas: Sending pitches to extend a big story running for several days is advisable. For example, it may be an expert who can speak about Angelina Jolie’s recent medical news, Heldman said.
4.Finding unique angles is critical, Clements noted. Brown wants the flexibility to add first person spin and avoid a cookie-cutter approach. As Wagner added, for MTV News, merely an announcement of a new album release is a non-starter. (Image at left courtesy of MTV News’ story, “Cannes Film Festival 2013: Our Must-See Movies”)