Tread Lightly, Journalists May Bite

As we said goodbye to Thanksgiving and welcomed the holiday season, one thing was evident here at Sterling—we readied ourselves for what we call the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Sprint. We always look forward to what CES brings, but with all the anticipation and excitement comes a flurry of fast-turnaround PR initiatives to ensure you rise above the noise.

We start planning early. We watch for CES predictions, formulate media pitches, and draft client announcements (ideally before December begins!) so that we’re ready to contact journalists when the trade show’s mega media list is unveiled. Why the rush to pitch, you ask? Because the road to CES success can be a prickly path if not well navigated. Just check out Twitter to see what all the fuss is about.

CES media outreach is a different kind of beast, as reporters are much busier than usual, especially since the trade show coincides with an already hectic time of year. Journalists want to be contacted early with relevant announcements only. Upfront, they want to know what’s newsworthy and why they should take a meeting with you. This means timely details — knowing the news, spokespeople, and meeting locations in advance — are king.

Journalists receive dozens of PR pitches daily, but when CES rolls around that number skyrockets. Their senses for bad pitches, bothersome follow-ups, and un-newsworthy “news” are heightened. So our job is to make their lives a little bit easier, keeping them happy and excited to meet with all of you. Otherwise, we’ll be met by comments seething with frustration like a few journalists shared below.

Even though CES prep is a sprint, it doesn’t mean PR people should blindly run full speed ahead. It’s important for us to be mindful, kind, and informative so that we’re strengthening our media relationships and positioning you in the best light possible. Then, once CES is a smashing success, you can start 2017 anew by clearing your CES email clutter like some journalists do too.

Amanda Felix is Senior Account Supervisor at Sterling Communications. You can follow her on Twitter at @mandypantsfelix.