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Quick Tips for Earning Pro AV Journalists’ Attention

Long-time pro AV journalist Dan Ferrisi tells us what audiovisual press folks want to see in your emails, pitches, and press releases.

Staff Editor

Whether you contract your company’s media relations with an agency or do it all in-house, it pays to know what makes the audiovisual industry’s press unique in terms of what they expect to see in their email inboxes.

Well it just so happens that our sister site, Commercial Integrator, recently hired a new editor-in-chief who has many years of experience in AV journalism.

We recently sat down to speak with Dan Ferrisi to get his opinions on how manufacturers can best-target AV and other technology journalists.

Check out the video above, and its transcript below

M2I: What about the efforts you’ve seen from PR/marketers in pro AV have grabbed your attention most?

Dan Ferrisi: I would say one of the things to keep in mind is personalization, if I get a ton of press releases every day, and if I see something directed to Dear editor or something like that, what it takes what it makes me think of is a this is probably being sent out to 500. People, it’s probably not all that curated a list, because that’s a very general term. And there’s probably not going to be a lot of follow up or anything like that, because again, it’s going to 500 people. So if you really want to get my attention, the first thing I should see when I open the email is Hello, Dan, or something like that.

And I’m especially intrigued if people pay attention to our editorial calendar and mentioned you know, in March, you’re going to be talking about galleries and museums. And I have a pitch that aligns very well with that, as opposed to just kind of blasting everything out and hoping to get you know, a one or two or 3% return by hitting as many people as possible in two minutes. As far as what would get my attention other than that kind of personalization, a lot of it’s kind of prosaic, it’s kind of basic, but give me the materials I need right from the outset. So include the press release, and include photos as an attachment.

If I have to go through an extra step to email you and say, Yes, I do want photos, please send them as a separate email to me, that just makes my job harder, because if I want to publish that press release immediately, I actually can’t do it until you then respond to the subsequent email and give me the photo assets that I need to make the post look good. So it’s much easier to give me all of the assets right from the beginning. That way I can jump onto my team can jump on it immediately, and get it covered in the manner in which the end of the 24/7 new cycle is expected.

The other thing I’ll say, and this is just kind of a pet peeve of mine is PDFs are never welcome by editors, at least by this editor, because they are not editable documents.

If you copy them into Word, they tend to have hard spaces and other kinds of problems associated with them. So you make me a happy editor and you get my attention other than just the attractiveness of the content. If you personalize your pitch, if you pay attention to the editorial calendar that I’m working with, if you send me all of the assets in a single email, and if it’s a Word document accompanied by separate JPEG or PNG attachments, so I can jump on it immediately edit it easily and get it published as soon as I receive it.

M2I: What do you think makes for a good case study in the AV & custom integration space?

DF: The first thing I would say is, obviously, if it’s coming from a vendor or manufacturer, they’re going to spotlight their contribution to the project. But it makes it much more appealing to me, if the press release doesn’t merely talk about manufacturer extra manufacturer, why, but also mentioned some of the other vendors and manufacturers and partners who are part of the project.

And the reason is commercial integrators know that there is no or very rarely a one manufacturer or one product solution. We’re talking about integrated systems, we’re talking about how lots of different components all come together, all work harmoniously and deliver an outstanding results. And if your press release, or your case study is essentially a love letter to the manufacturer or the product, and kind of jettisons every other component piece of the system, it’s not really giving integrators a fair sense of what it took on the integrators part, at least, to make that system happen.

It sounded communications, we would run case studies that were originally reported, and we would run the equipment list, the equipment list sometimes would have 500 line items on it, or 200 line items on it.

So if you’re only focusing on two or three or four of 500 line items, there’s limited informational value, there’s marketing value, and there’s PR value, but there’s limited informational value. And I really, I try to have a journalistic ethos and how I approach these things. So I want it to resonate with me as a journalist, that you’re giving our readers an objective view into the challenges of putting together an integrated system.

The other thing that I would say is, and I was talking about this in the earlier answer, photo assets, if we’re going to devote a significant amount of physical paper page space, or digital page space to a case study, I want to have a lot of photo assets that can illustrate exactly what we’re talking about. We like to do slideshows on commercial integrator.com, they’re great traffic magnets, and they’re also just really nice to leave through and look at what’s going on in a particular environment, be it a corporate environment, or an educational environment or an entertainment environment.

So if you give me a 1200, word, case study, and then send me one photo, I kind of feel like I’m shortchanging my readers, because I’m not giving them access to all the different spaces, and all the different components and all the different facets that the piece might very well articulate and get into. So you know, send me a dropbox link, or send me a Google Drive link with seven or eight or 10 or 15 photos potentially. And I can do a lot with that in print, I can do a lot with that digitally. And you know, I’m happy to give credit, I’m happy to credit, you know, photographers and artists, whatever We’ll make it work so that we can give our readers the best possible information and the best possible representation of the project.

Ultimately, my goal, my mission is to give our readers a fair shake. And I want when they come to commercial integrator.com for them to feel like they’re really getting a lot of the time they spend with us. So part of that is good information that’s objective and journalistic. And part of that is having those kinds of nice eye candy photo assets that complement the technically rigorous text.

M2I: Maybe you’ve seen a negative example of press efforts from a manufacturer –without naming names, what made it so?

DF: By and large, I’m pretty happy with the people with whom I work on the on the press side and the PR side of the AV industry. So certainly, as you say, I wouldn’t name any names. But in general, I think people are doing their best job to distill some pretty complicated technical information.

And also, you know, to bear in mind competing interests where you want to, of course, get your clients message out there. But at the same time, you do want to give good journalistic objective information. I guess the only thing that I could maybe pinpoint would be you know, when people follow up many, many, many times on the same project, or when they send the same project five or six times in a separate email, it can be frustrating for an editor, we get a lot of press releases every day.

And if I see the same project coming across my inbox, you know, on Tuesday, and then on Friday, and then the following Wednesday, or something like that, it doesn’t incentivize me to cover it more, it just makes me wonder, you know, what is it that is so special about this particular project or this particular case study.

So what I would say is just as far as a best practice goes, send it to me once, if it’s, for some reason, something that’s far above and beyond any other case study, you’re going to be sending me over a three month period, or a five month period, or a six month period, give me a call, or send me an email, and let me know, you know, this, it aligns with your editorial calendar in this way, or it resonates with your readers in this particular way, or it paints a picture of the future, for example, like a network centric IT project or a services centric project, that’s going to lead to more recurring revenue or more opportunities to have a sustainable business model. And this is why this case study or this project, or this product, is absolutely indispensable.

But other than that, recognizing that I might get 20, press releases a day, and there’s even in digital space, there’s only so much space and manpower to populate our sites, recognize the fact that some items will be covered, some items will be not. And if it is, as I say something absolutely indispensable genuinely, from a journalistic and objective standpoint, indispensable, let me know with a customized call or pitch your email, why it’s indispensable, help me understand it, so that I can articulate it to my team.

And then we can prioritize coverage based on its genuine objective journalistic value, but just kind of doing multiple send kind of thing, it starts to equate in my mind with junk mail. And when you’re trying to pitch a journalist, and you’re trying to make sure your products and your services and your your material is covered, you don’t want that journalist to perceive you as junk mail. So I would say be judicious about the extent to which you send things repeatedly.