PR agencies treat relationships with media contacts like gold. We pride ourselves on moving beyond “pitch-and-place” and establishing a professional friendship. Part of that relationship is the journalist’s willingness to be honest about what works and doesn’t work when interesting them in a story. We recently had the pleasure of working with Paula Rizzo, Emmy Award-winning senior producer at FoxNewsHealth.com. She’s also the author of Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed as well as the founder of the productivity site ListProducer.com. Paula agreed to provide some helpful (and amusing) answers to some burning PR questions.
What are your PR people pet peeves? I produce video, so I want to see how a potential interviewee looks and sounds like right away. I often get pitches without any video clips of the expert, headshots or animations attached — even if they are available. That leads to a lot of back and forth over email and slows down the process or means that your client doesn’t get booked. Send complete pitches with talking points, photos and video clips – and you’re more likely to seal the deal. Keep the copy clear and to the point and always make it known who your client is. Even make bullet points to make it simpler. Producers get hundreds of emails a day and it’s easy to lose track of a good pitch if it doesn’t stand out.
I also appreciate it when PR people join me on shoots in the field. However – it can be counterproductive if they are still coaching their client or stopping the shoot often to work on message points. This should all be worked out ahead of time so when the crew arrives we can get what we need as quickly as possible.
Also – please don’t change a shoot location 15 minutes beforehand and then not apologize. Yep – that’s happened to me before! Needless to say – that guest wasn’t asked back.
What was the best/worst pitch you ever received? I was pitched “Bangs instead of Botox” during the recession. We still laugh about that one at our office. It was definitely creative as a less expensive beauty treatment but it was just too ridiculous to do a story on. So we took a pass on that one.
What makes a good / bad interview subject for you? Here is how a guest can get asked back over and over. Show up on time, be prepared and charm the host. If you deliver what you’ve sold in the pitch and stick to your talking points – then the producer will be happy. Make sure to give examples when you speak and know when to stop talking. A short soundbite is always better than a long meandering thought. So practice in advance and come in ready to perform. Be conversational and engaging without being preachy. This is a formula for a really great segment.