THE NABJ EXPERIENCE: THE ART OF THE PITCH


So I had the good fortune to attend the recent NABJ convention in Philadelphia and mix and mingle with the who’s who in print, broadcast, print and on-line journalists. It’s always good to network, fraternize and fellowship with your peers. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Power of NOW: Claiming Your Destiny”.

The City of Brotherly Love did not disappoint. For starters the opening ceremony Guest Speaker was U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who encouraged attending Journalist to continue telling the “real” stories with truth and integrity. Holder then engaged in a question and answer session moderated by NBC’s “Today” weekend Host, Lester Holt. The session was followed by Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post.

All of the Industry Giants were present and accounted for including; Gwen Ifill, T.J. Holmes, Soledad O’Brien, Greg Anthony, Steve Smith, Roland Martin, Don Lemon, DeWayne Wickham and others.There were other notable personality/entertainment types lurking among the crowd. I spotted singer Eric Benet who hosted a special screening of his new movie Trinity “Goodheart” which airs later this month on the Gospel Movie Channel.Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas was also there and participated on a panel to discuss “Cultural Tensions In The Black Community.”

I am happy that NABJ is finally giving Public Relations its props – hosting seminars and sessions relevant to the discipline. The most engaging one that I attended was entitled, “Pitch Me Your Best Shot” where a select number of public relations professionals had 45 seconds to pitch their story ideas to producers and editors.The pitchers were chosen by random business card drawing.The panel included;the Deputy Editor of Essence Magazine, a Senior Producer of “Good Morning America”, a Senior Editor of People Magazine and a Senior Reporter for the Huffington Post.

The “key” takeaways in the art of the pitch is knowing and understanding deadlines. They were adamant, do not pitch editors and producers stories when they are under deadline, that’s a no-no and chances are they will not respond! And secondly, do your research to find out the respective reporter/editor/producer’s beat! For example, if a reporter or editor covers entertainment, PLEASE do not pitch them a story with a financial angle. And thirdly, you’ve heard that timing is everything! This statement is perhaps more relevant for those in the media than other professions.So give yourself plenty of lead time (unless it’s a breaking story) for them to ponder your story idea. So there you have it insider information from experts in the field.So, remember these tips the next time you pick up the phone to present your “Big Idea” to media contacts.

Now you have the greenlight, so Go Ahead! Pitch’em Your Best Shot!!! Bullseye!!!

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