Friends in High Places (Media)

By Mark Macias

Everyone wants to help a friend and members of the media are no different.

If you’re cozy with certain journalists, you might get a call returned faster or your story idea forwarded to the right person.

I spent over a decade working side-by-side with journalists at NBC and CBS, but you don’t need to be inside the media to curry favor. You can also develop relationships by seeking outside interests.

Look for Networking Opportunites

First off, you need to be genuine about what I’m going to say. Journalists are smart and can read through a fake quickly so if this is not something you’re interested in, don’t show up for the sake of meeting media people. However, if you do love these types of networking events, they can easily work to your advantage.

Affinity organizations like the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Asian Journalists and the National Association of Black Journalists provide many personal opportunities to network with journalists.

Those summer conferences allow journalists to socialize and network together while their nighttime events are filled with booze and parties. You don’t need to hold a press card to attend one of these conferences. If you pay the fees, you are welcomed inside.

Many cities also have their own local media mixers.

When I worked for a TV station in Phoenix, I belonged to an organization called the Arizona Latino Media Association or ALMA. The group frequently held social events at bars and restaurants where Hispanic journalists and PR executives mingled. Mediabistro also hosts networking events where journalists hang out together.

Just don’t be fake with your agenda. If you are there to network with people – or even to sell your business – be transparent because no one wants to hang out with the guy who is holding a secret. And don’t forget, these professionals are paid to uncover secrets, so you won’t last very long if you take that approach.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

Buying Journalists Gifts?

By Mark Macias

It’s a written rule and code of ethics in journalism that you can’t accept gifts in exchange for stories, but that doesn’t stop publicists from trying to secure media coverage through freebies.

When I was with NBC and CBS in New York, I was always invited to “free” press screenings for shows and concerts. Restaurants, lounges and bars also sent me private VIP invitations to their openings. Even our Special Projects unit  received unsolicited gifts from publicists to try out their products.

But is this an effective approach?

Here’s the inside media scoop on gift giving to journalists.

Every newsroom has a table full of toys, makeup, books and other products that are sent to reporters and producers.

I am of the belief that it’s a waste of money to send free samples to reporters because it will inevitably end up in the hands of a person who has no influence on whether that story will run.

As an Executive Producer with WNBC – overseeing the consumer and medical units – I can’t even recall the number of times I went to my work mailbox and saw a package or box with my name on it. Most of the times, I had no use for the make-up or toy or other product that was shipped to me.

But this doesn’t mean you should completely ignore a version of this strategy. You can still offer up a sample for the news organization to try, but be selective with it and most important – make sure you offer it to the right news contact.

And most important, don’t ever project that you are expecting something in return because that is the quickest way to get your story killed.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and Special Projects Producer with NBC. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR.

Publicity for Smaller TV Markets

By Mark Macias

As a journalist, I’ve covered news in Phoenix, Miami and New York – and all three markets couldn’t be more different when it comes to getting stories on the local news. News is covered differently based on the region of the country and even the city.

So how do you get the local news to write or run a story on your event?

Many PR blogs will advise you to pick up the phone and call. As a guy who received those calls from publicists, I would advise you differently.

Instead of picking up the phone and calling a random reporter you have never met, you should first put your thoughts down in writing. This will keep you more focused and concise when you try to explain the story to a reporter.

Most people ramble on when they get reporters on the phone. It’s a normal trait since they are likely excited when they finally get through, but it will work to your disadvantage quickly if you don’t communicate the angle of the story within the first minute.

If the news desk likes your story, they will also ask you for something in writing, so these notes will help you sell the story later.

Finally, if the TV station says they don’t have a photographer to send to your event, don’t give up. Ask if you can send them video. We’ve done this for many clients and the local TV station ran the story. Smaller TV markets are also more likely to run your video.

Most important – make sure your email gives detailed information on your organization for the story because a local TV station can’t write a story if they don’t have the information for the story.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC and Senior Producer with WCBS. He’s also the author of the communications book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. Macias now consults small and large businesses on how to get publicity. You can read more on his firm at MaciasPR or

How to Sell Your Story to the Media

By Mark Macias

The best salesman is always the person who is most passionate about his product. He’s the person who loves his product so much that his eyes come alive as he explains why there is no superior product. It’s no different with the media and selling your business to a reporter.

You need to be absolutely convinced that your story is newsworthy. If you have doubts, hold off on pitching the story until you are absolutely sold with the story angle.

How to Sell Your Story to the Media

In Journalism 101, students are taught the five W’s that help them identify the value of a story.

These bullet points help you identify why your story is newsworthy and what is important to communicate to reporters. Here’s a quick overview to help you identify your narrative.

WHO: Who is this story about? Who is the character in the center of the story?

WHAT: What is this story about? You will have more success with your media outreach if you identify the “what” because your idea will be more focused.

WHERE: This should be one of the easier W’s to identify. Where is this story taking place? Does the location have any value or importance in the community?

WHEN: Does your story have any timely components? Will your story take place on a single night or day? Is your story relevant at a certain time of the month? The timeliness increases your chances for coverage.

WHY: Why should anyone care about your story? The “why” could be the deciding factor that determines whether your story is pursued or killed. You need to communicate why consumers, readers or viewers care about your business.

By learning the answers to these questions, your story narrative will be more focused from the start, increasing your chances for coverage.

Macias PR was named the 2016 “Financial PR Firm of the Year – USA” and the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. We have launched and led media campaigns for clients in healthcare, finance, tech and the nonprofit sectors. The founder of Macias PR – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.

The Biggest PR Mistake

By Mark Macias

There are many mistakes you can make while running a public relations campaign. Fortunately, most of these mistakes can be overcome and corrected as long as you identify them early.

But, there is one PR mistake you can rarely fix and when it happens, an entire media placement is effectively worthless.

What is the biggest mistake: when a reporter misspells, or worse, doesn’t include the name of your business in the story.

This is why you need to always – repeat – always reinforce the name of your business with a reporter throughout the interview. In addition, you should also be continually dropping the name of your business throughout the reporter interview.

Why Name Dropping Your Business Matters

I helped get a friend on a local TV show in Phoenix and it was a great segment. He was positioned as an expert in his field, but the TV station never put his name or business name on the screen.

He could have avoided this error on live TV if he would have dropped the name of his business at the end of his live segment.

Remember, reporters and producers move at warp speed. Minutes matter in print. Seconds count in TV. Decrease the chances of your name getting lost by taking control of the interview and sprinkling the name of your business throughout the interview.

Mark Macias is a former Executive Producer with WNBC, Senior Producer with WCBS and author of the book, Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. You can read more on his public relations agency at MaciasPR