I gave a class assignment this week: Find an article which most likely originated from a public relations “pitch.” By some estimates, most pitched stories are not hard news but more likely run the gamete of tales of personal challenges and achievements, announcements of new products and services, profiles of companies and individuals, et cetera.
Though they may resist acknowledging this, journalists use press releases and PR pitches as significant source material. They often rely on PR professionals to lead them to stories. A 2014 survey by TEKGROUP backs this up; 74% of 171 news consumers and creators said they make use of press releases when following, sharing, or posting news and information.
Pitched stories are everywhere. Open any print or online magazine, for example, and most of the copy was the result of a PR professional’s efforts. Agencies spend a lot of time and energy getting their clients into the “free” media, both traditional and new. I was reminded of this as I was reading a lengthy article in Newsday last week featuring the opening of the “dining district” in Roosevelt Field Mall. The mall, among the top ten largest in the United States, is undergoing major renovations including adding a Neiman Marcus, and has done away with its crowded court. The new eatery choices–and the additional seating and tables–made for a solid local story.
The mall article and future stories about the mall’s upgrade was and will be pitched by Farmingdale, Long Island-based agency Ryan & Ryan Public Relations. Having represented Roosevelt Field and other Simon malls for many years, the staff at Ryan & Ryan has its media contacts in place and will be pitching them whenever there’s something new to announce. Reporters will often use these story ideas because their Long Island audiences want to know what’s going on at their popular local mall.
As journalism and media evolve, PR people will be relied upon more and more for ideas and content. It will become our elevated responsibility to find interesting information and compelling stories to reach our targeted audiences. Your thoughts?