Are PRs doing their homework? What we learnt from MaKi 2019

The BlueSky Education team have just returned from another fantastic MaKi business media conference, and as always, we were delighted to sponsor the event!

MaKi welcome business schools from all corners of the world to London, and gave the opportunity for business education communications and PR experts the chance to meet with major media professionals from various international platforms.

Hosted by Cass Business School, the event featured journalist panels from the FT, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Economist, Business Insider, Poets and Quants, Bloomberg, and many more over a series of two days. As well as the panels there was also a number of excellent presentations, including one from our very own Stephanie Mullins on securing international meetings with the press for academics.

In between an array of pastries, coffee, and a delicious Asian inspired lunch, there were many discussions held that seemed to lead to a few of important themes and subjects, and it was interesting to listen to the different opinions from the variety of journalists who attended.

Today, news stories are flowing in as they happen, from multiple sources, and are filtered through a vast network of social platforms. Indeed, the way we consume media has changed dramatically, whether that’s through our phones or tablets, print media is declining, and it is therefore crucial that journalists produce stories as quickly as possible.

Time really is of the essence, and with that in mind the panel highlighted how pitches should be short and snappy, and should include direct quotes and information that they can easily ‘cut and paste’ into their articles. It was stressed that business school PR and communications teams should keep their pitches as relevant as possible to the journalist they are contacting, and they highlighted the importance of recent research; anything presented to them that is longer than a year old may not catch their attention.

Across all of the media panels it was reflected how important it is to ‘do your homework’ before you pitch to them by looking at previous articles they have written, identifying the topics they write about, and to ultimately get a feel for the specific approaches their publications make. As well as this, the panels made it clear that it’s not only their writing styles and topical interests that should be distinguished by PRs, but their location too; a journalist based in London is not going to be able to make an event based in the US that same week!

Additionally, another topic that was commented on was how ‘data journalism’ has changed the face of reporting, and how it is leading the way in terms of how journalists produce their content. The panels emphasised how raw data is useful to them, and although comment from a professor can certainly add weight to an argument, they can also produce strong work when it is supported by solid facts and figures.

The panels expressed how they can use data to provide deeper insights into what is happening around us and how it might affect us. Data can provide the analysis and information that they need to be able to make sense of the important issues of the day. In a world of ‘fake news’, the readiness of multiple media platforms, and constant news streams flashing at us on our devices, people value hard data. Journalists have a responsibility of providing their readers with information that matters to them, and in a way that makes sense to them. Numbers are concrete, and there is no way of twisting data around.

The MaKi conference ended with a few glasses of wine in the sunshine, and the chance to reflect on the two days with the other attendees. The BlueSky Education team saw it as an invaluable experience to hear from media professionals first hand, and to connect with other business schools from across the world. It was fantastic to see some old faces as well as meeting new ones, and we look forward to next year!

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