HARO Connect: Chicago Tribune Networking Event

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On Tuesday Night, Motion PR had the pleasure of attending the HARO Connect with Chicago Tribune networking event. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a sourcing service that connects journalist working to meet demanding deadlines with relevant expert resources looking to share their story. The event connected local PR professionals with some of the Chicago Tribune’s top reporters. The panel shared tips and tricks for breaking through to the media in general, as well as some insights on what they liked to be pitched.

If you weren’t able to make the event, we have got your back! Here are some key takeaways from each reporters answers and some advice on how/what they like to be pitched.

Becky Yerak- Becky is a consumer-focused reporter. @Beckyyerak

  • Although her official beat is banking, property and casualty insurance reporter she has greatly expanded.
  • She appreciates pitches that have a local angle.
  • Becky receives 500+ emails /day and if she doesn’t get to any by the end of the night she just deletes them.
  • She said to be persistent when pitching, “just because you didn’t receive feedback doesn’t mean I’m not interested, sometimes it’s simply because I haven’t seen it.”

Bill Hageman– Bill is a lifestyles reporter with a specific focus on pets, animal issues and travel. @BillHageman

  • He does not like to be called, although he says he still receives calls, he doesn’t like taking them. He jokingly referred to himself as an introverted jerk but was honestly a great guy with a good sense of humor.
  • His advice was to send your pitch to multiple reporters at the Tribune, the mindset of only pitching one or two reporters at a publication is a ‘thing of the past,’ especially with understaffing.  He said reporters all talk and share pitch ideas so casting a wider net is certainly fine.
  • Do your research- he often gets pitched about things like women’s cosmetics and those emails end up in the trash.
  • If he receives a really interesting pitch he will forward it to the appropriate contact at the Tribune.
  • Biggest pitch pet peeve is having his name misspelled, pitch will most likely be dismissed regardless of the content.

Nara Schoenberg– Nora is a features reporter, she focuses on relationships, health and books. @nshoenberg

  • She likes pitches that are direct and honest, not witty. Wants the facts and to-the-point pitches.
  • She gets her news and story ideas from press releases so add her to any list.
  • Gets a lot of her news from Jezebe.
  • 75% of her stories are topics she selected, 25% assigned by her editor.

 Some major takeaways:

  • As with everything we do, research is the essential first step. Pitching to the right contact makes all the difference in successful pitches. Reporters appreciate the time you take to find something that really interests them.
  • Persistence is key. No feedback doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t interested in the idea, just that they may not have gotten to it that day.
  • Reporters want you to get to the point. Don’t waste their time with unnecessary fluff.