Rob Swystun, Pristine Advisers
A long time ago (April) in the far away land of Toronto (insert Rob Ford joke here) Bloomberg held a breakfast conference type thing at its office there that brought together corporate communications professionals with Bloomberg reporters to talk about how best to get your business mentioned in a Bloomberg article.
Business Wire Canada reporters Joyce Thian, Zara McAlister and Ciaran Ryan were there (Business Wire actually partnered with Bloomberg to present the Bloomberg Financial Services Media Breakfast) and talked with Bloomberg’s managing editor for Canada David Scanlan, Toronto bureau chief Jacqueline Thorpe, and financial services reporters Doug Alexander and Katia Dmitrieva about how PR pros can make sure their stories make it into the media.
The first and most important thing to remember is that Bloomberg receives a ton of story ideas each day. Imagine having to sift through all that for nuggets of stories worth actually writing about.
What to do
According to Scanlan, what catches Bloomberg’s collective eye are stories that:
- Have a surprise element – “If you’re a bank opening a new branch [in downtown Toronto], it’s not going to do a lot for us. If you’re opening a branch in a tent in Tripoli, that’s different, that’s surprising. What’s going on there?”
- Are different – “We’re always looking for ideas from really smart people that other people want to hear from.”
- Have big names involved – “We want to know who’s moving on the street, or even who’s fired.”
- Have big money involved – “Events, deals, companies that are bigger and have more money at stake are going to be of more interest to us.”
What not to do
Thorpe, meanwhile, shared the PR faux pas that throw her into a rage.
- Not knowing what a reporter covers — Know what’s trending and which reporter covers which beat.
- Loquacious press releases — Do include: who, what, when, where, why (& how much is usually good, too.) Do not include: canned quotations, unnecessary exclamation marks.
- Not enough information in press releases — Make sure the contact info is accurate and complete.
- Burying bad news — You’re not a cat and this ain’t no litter box. Be upfront about bad news.
- Not being available — Issuing a press release is not the last thing you should be doing prior to leaving for vacation. Someone has to be around to answer questions.
How to hold a Bloomberg reporter’s attention
Alexander and Dmitrieva, both intrepid financial services reporters, shared their preferences when receiving story pitches from eager PR purveyors.
For Alexander, an email is preferred over a cold call, especially if the pitch ends up being irrelevant. (As a former journalist, I can attest to this. It’s easier to delete a useless email than convince a determined PR person that their story idea is junk.)
Also, ensure all important news is included in the first few paragraphs. You don’t need a good lead on a press release. Cold, hard facts and dry, no-frills writing are greatly appreciated. It’s equally as important for PR professionals to know the inverted pyramid style of writing as it is for journalists.
And a heads up on a big story is always appreciated.
Dmitrieva, on the other hand, prefers frequent communication and likes to meet over coffee to develop story ideas and relationships.
It’s probably best to ask each reporter their preferences. I’m sure you’ll get into their good books that way.
Apparently, Bloomberg also hosts informal lunches where communications professionals can meet and get to know reporters at the bureau (although it’s not clear whether this is just in the Toronto bureau or if all Bloomberg bureaus do this. Might as well call your local bureau and ask.)
If getting into Bloomberg is at the top of your company’s priority list, use these tidbits to help your cause.