After hearing about the wealth of information that the Publicity Club of Chicago brings to PR firms, (and of course, the amazing food that accompanies it from Maggianos), I was thrilled to be going to my first PCC luncheon. I was beyond excited to hear what broadcast experts had to share with the PR world that would bring our relationship closer. Needless to say, there would be a plethora of information and food to fill the appetites of the ravenous crowd. Today’s PCC lunch was based on the broadcast media’s role in the 21st Century and how it fits with social media and the changing economic climate. Speakers Drew Hayes, Justin Kaufmann, Mike North and Dean Richards had much to say about their interactions with public relations and the impact social media is having on broadcast media, most notably the rapid decline of the newspaper.

The most common statement regarding their interaction with PR made by all of the speakers stressed the importance of the PR firm knowing what the client is doing on their end. It is important that when pitching, information is relevant and tailored to the client. All agreed that email is the best form of contact, although pitching through Facebook is acceptable as well, because it’s “all one place or the other.” The most concise way to pitch through email would be to embed the pitch and to be as specific and to the point as possible in the subject line; subject lines that are too wordy or too linguistic may distract the reader and lead to them prematurely trashing the pitch. Hayes made a good point when he said with all of the cutbacks occurring right now, a well-crafted pitch could lead to a great story.

When it comes to social media involvement, Kauffman, a big fan of Twitter, agreed with North that although it may distract clients and viewers of broadcast media from the bigger, more important product they are trying to service, that it could be used as a successful tool in pitching for PR. For instance, he gave the example that if a story does not get picked up by media, tweeting about the story could get it picked up by one of your followers. And even if one of your followers doesn’t pick it up, they have the possibility of re-tweeting about the story that could open up numerous other networks to the link that you never would have had access to previously.

Since all four men are actively involved and employed by either radio or print broadcast, a fierce debate started about the involvement of web and whether or not the ability to get news for free on the web would ultimately lead to the death of newspapers. North was very adamant about keeping papers alive, gearing them to the baby-boomer demographic of 45 year olds and up. The others brought up the point of why bother paying for the news when you can get it for free online? Kaufmann mentioned, where viewers can link a story they believe to be relevant and users can vote on it, which ultimately will determine it’s popularity. It seems to me that viewers of this site are only the news that others believe to be relevant. North commented, reinforcing my previous thought, that what you see on the internet is only half of what is actually going on in the news and that not many people get through the first page of the news website; there is much more information provided by the actual newspaper and those who worked hard to get their stories published will get lost on the world wide web. Personally, I feel that there is a way around both of the dilemmas. I think that simply by adding a subscription fee to a news website, people would be still getting the news that they want (no less, no more) but are still aiding in keeping the actual papers around for those who enjoy having something to hold.

Kristin Dodson