This week, we welcomed two very special guests from Crosscut to our office: Tamara Power-Drutis, executive director, and Greg Hanscom, editor-in-chief. Crosscut is a leading local not-for-profit news source aiming to make Seattle a united, informed and engaged community.
The duo joined us for an impromptu happy hour. Drinks in hand, we picked each other’s brains about the direction of local news, Seattle civic trends and storytelling.
Here are four important takeaways we took away from our time with Crosscut.
Know who you’re talking to, and actually talk to them.
There is an audience out there for every story there is to tell. What makes Seattle great is the variety of minds that make up the city. From the creative to the technical and everywhere in between, every audience wants to be told a story, but they might not want to be told the SAME story. Tailor each story to its appropriate audience for it to be best received.
Find the “why” and run with it.
“With every story you tell,” Hanscom said, “make sure that’s the one that will finally draw people in.”
In other words, when writing a story (or pitch), make it interesting to someone who doesn’t care about the subject. We discussed different approaches to draw readers in, such as through humor, personalization and the use of data. Each person demands a different “why,” as each issue affects folks differently. Figure that part out, and run with it.
The generic press release is dead… like, really dead.
We’ve been told time and time again to tailor each pitch to the specific journalist you’re reaching out to (and if you want to be told again, check out this WS Seattle blog post featuring KOMO 4’s Brad Goode). Journalists start every day with a cup of coffee (or three) and a deep cleaning of an inbox bogged down with general, non-specific press releases. Customize your pitch, work it until it will resonate with the journalist and make them HAVE to write the story, and then send it with a subject line that they can’t help but open. If it’s interesting to the journalist, it’s likely interesting to your intended audience, too.
PR pros and journalists are more similar than you may think.
While many are mourning the loss of traditional media, Tamara pointed out there are more storytellers than ever. PR pros and journalists both have stories to tell, and we often work together to do so. Current digital platforms and social media outlets give the public news at a moment’s notice, which gives us the opportunity to tell more stories than ever.
It was a pleasure to have Tamara and Greg join us, and we look forward to working with them in the future!