Wallflowers give sound advice to PRs at Ad Week Europe

Don’t get the reporter’s name wrong if you are pitching a PR story – just one of the top tips provided by leading business journalists at Propeller’s recent Wallflowers at the Orgy panel.

With some journalists receiving at least 200 emails a day they are keen to make sure their time is not wasted. Succinct but essential pieces of advice to make sure any story pitch has a chance of being considered include pitching in an email in plain English rather than three pages of convoluted jargon; thinking how your story might work in the actual framework of a business page layout and realising the importance of providing a “fantastic picture” – journalists don’t always have the time or resource to send a photographer to your event or client’s office.

The Wallflower panel, now a regular feature of Ad Week Europe in London, featured Francine Lacqua, Anchor and Editor-at-Large Bloomberg Television, Alex Lawson Business News Editor London Evening Standard, Christian May, Editor-in-Chief of City A.M. and Daniel Thomas, Deputy Companies Editor of the Financial Times. It was chaired by Propeller founder Martin Loat.

The panel stressed the need to have knowledge of the publication or the TV show and its audience when pitching and to learn what the specific journalist is interested in – look at their Twitter feed and watch their programmes – “even if it’s just five minutes”, said Lacqua.

Being aware of the journalist’s deadlines was a hot topic for Lawson. He said that he has a morning deadline and he receives a number of calls between 10am and 11am. “If it’s someone timidly pitching something way down the line, it does not engender them to me. Think about where that editor might be finding it difficult to fill a space.”

May, who checks his emails frequently, said: “If there is no sense of any relevance to City A.M. and no relevance to the patches we cover, then it is going to be deleted, but if you can demonstrate an understanding of why you are pitching to City A.M. and why now, then there is good chance it will warrant an internal conversation, even if you don’t hear back.”

And finally, Thomas appreciates knowledge and honesty and added: “The best PRs will know they have a crap story and be honest and be funny about it, because they know they have a better story down the line and they don’t want to ruin a relationship with a bad story.

The provocative title of the panel comes from acclaimed US writer Nora Ephron, who said: “Working as a journalist is exactly like being the wallflower at the orgy…everyone else is having a marvellous time, laughing merrily, eating, drinking, having sex in the back room, and I am standing on the side taking notes.”