Media's Toughest Gatekeepers

Tuesday 10th February 2015 02:24pm
By Networx Sydney

Networx 2015 kicked off with a great night of networking and insight on Tuesday 10 February at a first time venue, The Settlers Room at Waterfront Restaurant. The event, Media’s Toughest Gatekeepers included, Lisa Davies, Deputy News Director at The Sydney Morning Herald, Dan Mullins, Producer at 2GB, Natasha Dragun, Managing Editor at MiNDFOOD and MiNDFOOD Style and Lucie McGeoch, Supervising Producer at The Morning Show and The Daily Edition. 

Media panel’s at Networx are always popular, everyone wants to know what we might be doing wrong, what we could do better and just how to follow up that unanswered email. Tuesday night’s panel provided the audience with an invaluable amount of inside tips and advice.  While each panel member worked across a different medium, there were certain things they all agreed on. For instance, all of the panel said they were unlikely to open attachments in a pitch email. They advised the room to include your main Who, What, When, How and Why in your first paragraph. If the first paragraph doesn’t catch their attention they aren’t likely to read on. They also suggested you copy in several people to your email, Dan recommended copying in other Breakfast Producers and even Alan Jones himself to make sure your email gets seen.  For those of you who weren’t able to join us on the night (and we hope to see you at our next Networx on March 17th!) here are a few of the key insights offered by our expert panel. 

Natasha’s top tips for magazines:

  • Understand all the platforms under the MiNDFOOD umbrella, if your story doesn’t suit the magazine it might be perfect for the app, website or podcast. 

  • Read the magazine and work out what writers handle which sections. If you know the right contact your story is more likely to be heard by the editorial team. 

  • Like all our panel, Natasha doesn’t have time to read long emails. Make them short sharp and succinct.

  • A key point to those of us wanting to build our relationships with writers and editors is to plan out content before heading to a coffee catch up or meeting. Natasha said that while it’s great to hear what clients you’re working on she loves being able to return to her desk after a meeting with 2 or 3 story ideas up her sleeve. 

Dan’s top tips for radio:

  • Do some research before pitching and understand not only the show but the show timing. There is no point trying to pitch in a story when the show is on air, they just don’t have time for it. Dan shared with the audience that he arrives at the studio at 3.30am, their on air at 5.30am and off at 9am. The best window to pitch is 9.30-10.30am before they head into their planning meeting for the next day’s show at 11.30am. 

  • If your story isn’t breaking news it can be booked in weeks, or even months, in advance. Not everything in radio is organised just the day before. 

  • Dan said he receives over 150 media release or pitches a day and with a quick scan of the subject and first line can decide if it’s a fit for the Alan Jones program. 

  • When pitching in for radio we all know the importance of a spokesperson. Dan says to remember that if you have trouble getting your key messages out of a spokesperson there is no way they will on radio. The spokesperson doesn’t have to be the CEO, they need to be someone who is confident and clear on radio. 

  • Dan’s biggest piece of advice was don’t take everything personally. Sometimes breaking news will cause your story to slip, or on live radio your brand name might be forgotten, but it’s just the nature of the business. 

Lisa’s top tips for newspaper:

  • The news cycle is 24/7, while Lisa doesn’t have to work 24 hours a day there is always someone in charge of making sure breaking news and interest stories are being shared. The first news meeting of the day at SMH occurs at 6am, this is then followed by a daily news meeting at 9.30am. Content for the following day's newspaper is planned then and an online schedule is created. 

  • While Lisa’s role has her overseeing all the newspapers (weekday and weekends) as well as the website and app, she says your best bet is to pitch to the relevant writer. Read the paper and understand which writers are handling what topics. 

  • Lisa told the audience not to be afraid to follow up, while no journalist wants to be harassed she does admit to missing the occasional email. A friendly and polite follow up could make a big difference. 

  • The best time to follow up newspaper journalists is between about 10am and lunch. 

  • Lisa’s final tip for the night was be flexible and open to working with the newspapers deadlines and availability. If they put effort into an interview or send a photographer out, the story will run. 

Lucie’s top tips for TV:

  • Lucie counts herself as lucky, and unlike her colleagues at Sunrise, Lucie doesn’t have to be in the office until about 5.30am. As all the days content for The Morning Show (TMS) was confirmed the previous day at their 11am production meeting, the morning just gives the producers a chance to finalise content and organise guests. 

  • Straight after TMS wraps up Lucie moves into the production meeting for The Daily Edition (TDE), which is usually held at 10.30am. 

  • A top tip for securing TV coverage for your brand or client is to target it perfectly to the show. Understand what it is each show contains and target your pitches precisely. Lucie said they are almost always after exclusivity. They don’t want to be covering the same content as other morning shows. 

  • Unlike a lot of print journalists who are writing up stories, Lucie isn’t always at her desk or computer. For this reason she said phone call follows ups usually go unanswered. The best way to reach most TV producers is via email. 

  • Like with radio, your spokesperson needs to be carefully selected. As TV is a visual medium your spokespeople need to pay attention to what they wear and how they present themselves. The more charismatic a person is, and the more they know their stuff, the better talent they will be. 

All our speakers agreed that their biggest peeve is PRs and Marketers ‘threatening’ them with the opposition. Lucie said often if people say “If you don’t get back to me in the next hour I’m taking this story to The TODAY Show” she’ll simply hit delete and move on. Threatening with the opposition doesn’t make them act faster, it just frustrates them. 

We would like to thank our guest speakers for sharing their advice to our audience and providing us with the tips and insight we need to master our media relations.  Our next Networx event is just over a month away and is perfect for anyone wanted to learn more about working with bloggers! Held on March 17th, Superstar bloggers provides the perfect opportunity to learn more about the online space. For more information visit the Networx website at Double Edge PR 02 9957 1352


A special thanks to our partners for the night:

Networx Sydney’s AV partner - TAVSA

National Networx Digital Marketing Partner - Reload Media

National Networx Website and Digital Partner - Vivo Group

Networx Sydney’s venue partner for this event - Dockside Group

Gift Sponsor for the night’s event - The Rose’s Only Group

Lucky door prize suppliers - Hamper’s Only, Eat Fit Food, Waterfront Restaurant and Palace Cinemas and a special thank you to MiNDFOOD for supplying all our guests with a copy of their most recent issue 


Double Edge PR

Telephone: 02 9957 1352



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