Education Writers Association: Lessons Learned

My blog series — #PitchTips — kicks off today. And for my first blog I’m bringing you a recap of what our team learned from attending a recent conference for education media. Hoping this will help improve your practice. ~ Devin

By Devin Boyle, Director of Media Relations

Two weeks ago I joined education reporters from across the country in Boston for the Education Writers Association Conference to talk edu story angles, edu policy, edu politics, and—on an unrelated note—the Red Sox v. Yankees. (Don’t ask me who won the series. A baseball fan, I am not.)

The conference, organized around the theme of “The Quest for Quality and Equity,” was a chance for journalists to learn from each other, discuss trending topics in education and honor the best education writing over the last year. For those of us in communications it was also a chance for us to learn from members of the media.

Over the course of a few days, our team got a glimpse into what journalists think will be the top storylines of 2016, and what they’re looking for in pitches from communications professionals. Below are a few things we learned. Shoot me an email if you want to brainstorm story ideas or have any questions about what works best in pitching (boyle@collaborativecommunications.com).

Storylines Likely to Be Covered in 2016-17

Journalists gave their take on what they think will be the trending topics of 2016-17, ranging from diversity of the teaching workforce to new stories tied to Common Core. Here are a few to pay attention to. These will give you a few good starting points for story angles when crafting your pitches.

  • Trauma in and out of school;
  • Diversity of students and teachers;
  • Common Core implementation; and
  • K-12 assessment.

What Media Need From Us

Reporters receive hundreds of email and phone pitches a day. It’s important that we make every word we say count when we’re sending them our story ideas if we want them to write about what we’re pitching. Below are two ways we can make our stories heard.

  • Grassroots Resources: Media want to have lists of teachers, parents, school leaders, etc. from across the country willing and ready to speak with them when stories tied to education at the grassroots level pop. When pitching, we should always let reporters know that we can connect them with the resources they need on the ground. (#PitchTip ~ Have a person(s) and/or program(s) you can list as example resources in your pitch.)
  • Research: Comms folks should always do their research before reaching out to media. They should know what storylines the reporter has previously written and whether or not what comms professionals are pitching would be relevant to the reporter they’re pitching to. (#PitchTip ~ Mention something you liked or that made you think in a recent article written by the reporter you’re pitching to.)

Now What?

These are just a few #PitchTips to get you started. Come back to our blog again to find out how to refine your pitches so the messages you want to be communicated hit the news hard. If you’re looking for tips on branding, read Rhyla’s blog here; if you need some digital advice head on over to see what our digital expert, Jeff Stovall, has to say.

Thanks for reading! And, please follow me on Twitter @devin_boyle and our team @Collaborative_.