Russ Britt, the Los Angeles Bureau Chief for MarketWatch, recently sat down with Financial Profiles to provide his thoughts on how financial journalists, PR professionals and companies can be most helpful to one another.
Here are some of the tips that Russ passed along:
Russ most appreciates getting an email from a PR rep that offers a resource that can provide insight on a breaking story. “I cover a lot of healthcare stories and today AETNA decided to buy Coventry Healthcare and that particular story was something that I spent a lot of time on. Now if you send me an email saying, “Hey Russ, in light of this happening today, I’ve got a merger guy who can talk to you about this, or I’ve got someone who can give you what the implications are for Medicare or Medicaid, I can give you some insight if we can expect any more of this in this sector” – then that’s extremely helpful for us and that’s when we would really draw on you on a frequent basis if we get things like that.”
Providing access to high-level executives (preferably CEOs and CFOs) leads to expanded coverage. “The one thing that I always found interesting is that a lot of people in PR have never understood that the more your people talk to us, the more space you eat up – the more of our space that you consume. If [CEOs and CFOs] are made available, and I am not asking for the world, and we can quote them, then you are going to eat up some of that space.”
Know your reporter – if they work for a newswire, don’t ask what their deadline is, just assume that it was 10 minutes ago. “My deadline is now and now and now! We are [much like] a wire service and it is constant. My deadline is ten minutes ago, my deadline is ten minutes from now, my deadline is right now. Whenever we get it out, we get it out – but we want to get it out as soon as we can.”
It’s better not to ask to verify quotes after an interview. “I am not real fond of the idea. If they want to come back to me later and say you screwed that up, which has never happened, and they say that I have misquoted them completely, then of course you would correct that and then the source wouldn’t want to talk to you anymore. But I have never had that happen to me. It is kind of a moot point. My feeling is that they sort of have to trust me the first time. If they don’t want to trust me, they don’t have to talk to me. That’s what it boils down to for me.”
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