PRSA Tampa Bay's 2018 Media Roundtable

By: Ashley Kathryn

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well this held true at the 2018 PRSA Media Roundtable as PRSA Tampa Bay enjoyed a breakfast full of fresh tips and tricks from a diverse panel of media locals. Missy Hurley, APR, co-founder of B2 Communications, kicked off the program by moderating representatives from veteran outlets such as WFTS ABC Action News and the Business Observer to digital startups like The Identity Tampa Bay and St. Pete Catalyst. This two-part program first featured the panel addressing key insights into the evolving media sphere.

“So in case you guys didn’t realize this, the newspaper business has kind of changed a little bit in the last decade or so,” Caitlin Johnston, a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, jokingly said.

“It’s very dependent on trying to balance the news that know we need to get our readers. Those long, in-depth stories, trying to budget those with the breaking news that is essential to updating people with what’s going.”

This demand has encouraged outlets to produce more content and differentiate their target audiences. Margie Manning, Finance Editor at the Tampa Bay Business Journal explained that her reporters have more on their plate with the addition of digital news distribution. Manning shared that reporters have 15 stories to produce weekly for their subscription services, as well as stories for their print publication.

Digital outlets such as The Identity Tampa Bay and St. Pete Catalyst keep up with the evolving media by targeting niche audiences that may get lost in broad coverage.

Joe Hamilton, a publisher of the St. Pete Catalyst, shared, “I can say that we are detached from trying to keep up with breaking news. I don’t think we’re in position to add value in that regard, so we have different sections at the Catalyst.”  

The Identity Tampa Bay shares the same sentiment by covering local stories that define Tampa as a region. This may not produce the same quantity of content as a larger outlet, but gives public relations professionals access to untapped potential.

Even though each professional differed in approach, one theme remained consistent. Public relations professionals must KNOW the platform they are pitching to have a story produced.

Paul Abercrombie, a freelance journalist for outlets like National Geographic and the Traveler, mentioned that his biggest pet peeve is when he explains to a professional that he doesn’t cover specific topics and they respond with, “When can we expect coverage?”

A pitch must be a story with a character that relates to the outlet’s audience. Univision News Tampa Bay recognizes this as well when deciding what content gets produced. Filippo Ferretti, Univision News Tampa Bay reporter shared that they plan content and decide that “...this is the most important story for our community.”

Also, a pitch does not have to be traditional press release you wrote 10 years ago. Tell a narrative and supplement it with video, pictures and key information. With the amount of pitches outlets receive, this could be the difference between getting coverage or not.

“We’re not looking at a PR pitch as much because everyone is going to have that story,” Vicky Benchimol, Planning Editor at WFTS ABC Action News, said.

Be strategic and personalize each pitch per outlet. Going the extra mile will do wonders.

View more insights from this panel at, brought to you by B2 Communications.

The second part of program, a “speed networking” session, allowed for members to continue these conversations more in-depth and connect with each representative. Developing relationships with the media is just one of the many benefits of becoming a PRSA member.

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