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Keeping Up With News About the News

For those of us in higher ed media relations, there’s a lot of news to keep up with on a daily basis. To do our jobs well we need to stay informed about the latest trends within education and keep up with news of the day in a variety of areas from politics to science, especially as it relates to available faculty expertise.

While these things alone are more than enough to keep us busy, it’s also critical to keep up with the news about the news. After all, pitches have a much better chance of success if we know whom we’re pitching, what’s going on at their organizations and how their interests may shift over time. Knowing about beat changes, maternity leaves, or things like impending buy-outs can all play a role in how and when we reach out a reporter.

But the inner workings of media outlets can be tricky to figure out, especially with competing demands on our time. Here are a few of that ways we do it at TVP Comms:

  • We follow a lot of reporters on Twitter—those covering higher ed, of course, but also those covering many other industries and beats, including mass media. Not only does this give us insight into individual journalists’ current interests and stories, but it also offers glimpses into various media outlets’ cultures, promotions, job changes, layoffs, etc. In addition to following reporters, we also follow outlets’ own PR staff for the inside scoop on major organizational news. Having a sense of what’s going on internally at various media outlets can help tremendously with things like the timing, angles and recipients of pitches.
  • We have a devoted Slack channel to share details (usually discovered on Twitter, but not always) about journalist job changes and media industry news. Things change quickly in the media. Helping each other stay on top of those changes by sharing what we come across is a huge time saver.
  • We are members of the Education Writers Association. While primarily an organization for education journalists, PR folks are welcome, and enjoy the benefits of being “insiders” among the very people we’re trying to reach. They have several resources on their site that can help PR professionals gain insight into trends and they host an annual seminar with tracks specifically geared toward media relations.
  • We seek out Pew’s annual State of the News Media report, which provides detailed information (as well as more digestible overviews) of how different segments of the news media are faring so we can make best use of our time. For example, if daily newspaper readership is on the decline, does pitching them still make sense? Are podcasts really as popular as they seem? What sectors of the media can help our pitches reach the biggest audience?
  • We read the news about the news on sites like Muck Rack, Poynter, the Neiman Lab and Columbia Journalism Review, among others.

If you have tips to share, suggestions of Twitter accounts to follow, or other outlets that cover the media well, please share them here or via Twitter. We’re always looking for ways to expand our own media news consumption.