We took a few minutes to sit down with one of our favorite journalists, Steve Strauss from USAToday.
Steve, who is often called “the country’s leading small business expert,” is a lawyer, author, and USATODAY.com columnist. His latest book is the Small Business Bible. Steve is also a speaker in high demand who has spoken around the world about entrepreneurship, including at the United Nations. He has been seen on CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, The O’Reilly Factor, and many other shows.
What is the role of a media relations person for today’s journalist?
It is two-fold. Your job is to get your client’s name out there – and if you can help a journalist get their job done easier, then it’s a home run.
What kind of things are you looking for/writing about in the next few months?
I’m always looking for new angles around small business, something that is of general interest to a lot of small business people—something they don’t already know. A unique take or an innovative angle is always much appreciated.
How is the outlook for small business in this economy?
Everyone is past the survival mode they were in for the last two years and now they are figuring out how to grow.
What are your readers challenged by these days?
One issue that keeps coming up is how to manage social media. How much, how to make it pay off, how to make money doing it, etc.
How do you want to receive information?
I hate press releases. In fact, I occasionally give a speech that encourages people not to use a traditional press release. I like email – short, quick and snappy—from someone who knows who I am and what I am about. I’m frustrated by someone who just puts my name on a list. But, if someone knows my beat, that will really pique my interest and then I’m more likely to listen to their pitch. A short, snappy directed email works best for me.
Do you have an example of a good PR pitch?
A former journalist-turned-PR person sent me an inquiry that was just about getting to know what I wanted. No pitch, no client information. Just a basic “what can I do for you” note. That really resonated with me.
An example gone wrong?
Someone asked me to write a story, and I said yes. They provided me with the information and it sat there for a while. I just got busy. I let her know I’d write the story, I just didn’t know when. She wouldn’t stop. I understand follow up, we all have to do it. But there is a line you can’t cross. I wrote the story but I asked her not to contact me anymore.