Tips from the Boston Globe Business Editor on How to Get Covered

Nov 07, 2011 admin

I recently asked Shirley Leung, business editor at the Boston Globe, to talk about a few topics, including what’s at the core of any public relations effort: How to get the paper to cover a company, an issue or an event.

When I left the Globe’s newsroom in 2005, the website was important, but reporters were not expected to update their stories or post breaking news unless it was the equivalent of Harvard choosing a new president. Today, the website has not only changed a reporter’s job but it has altered the very definition of news, how it is written (long vs. short or a feature lede vs. the traditional ‘who, what, where, when’) – what goes in the paper, what goes online, and how editors choose to deploy their staff.

So you can see why a mere press release is rarely enough to earn you coverage anymore regardless of whether it is well done. Even a legitimate pitch the day before you might want a story to run is no longer enough. But there are two types of stories – scoops and breaking news -- that are coveted by the paper, according to Shirley. Breaking news goes online. And stories that are exclusive or more feature-oriented tend to be published in print first.

Shirley also offers some other tips to increase the likelihood of being covered, including:

  • Working with the beat reporter weeks in advance – which seems like a shockingly long lead.
  • Offering an exclusive.
  • Reading the bylines and knowing what reporters are writing about (I can say from my experience as a journalist that not all PR professionals are created equal).
  • Developing relationships not just with reporters but with editors, who can reassign a story if a reporter is too busy.
  • Making the pitch good. (Here is a previous post on how to do that; and this is a post on how to create a bad one – the worst we could write.)

I also asked Shirley how Globe staff and readers are responding to the so-called pay-wall. One of the things she mentioned was’s “responsive design,” a unique tech feature that you won’t see elsewhere, which automatically adjusts on the screen depending on the device you are reading it on.

And while the website has changed how information is pushed out by the newsroom, Twitter has changed how stories are developed, with reporters trawling the social media network for subjects and quotes, as well as for tips on breaking news.

Thanks, Shirley!

Topics: Press Releases, Public Relations, Technology, Journalism

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