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Jul 20, 2007
Interview

PR Interview: 5 Dos and 5 Don’ts to Get Into Rocky Mountain News' Business Section

SUMMARY: Want to see your company featured in Colorado’s “best daily” and one of the US’ 10 largest metropolitan newspapers? We interviewed the Deputy Business Editor of Rocky Mountain News, which has won four Pulitzers in the past seven years. Check out our tips on how to hone your pitch to perfection.
Contact information
Gil Rudawsky
Deputy Business Editor
Rocky Mountain News
101 W. Colfax Ave., Suite 500
Denver, CO 80202
303-954-2562
rudawskyg(at)rockymountainnews(dot)com

Background
Even though he grew up in Denver, Rudawsky worked in Aspen, South Florida and Bolder before he ended up back in his hometown. He started at Rocky Mountain News as a tourism reporter; five years ago, he became deputy business editor. His pastimes include road cycling and reading The Wall Street Journal.

Circulation & readership
Daily: 255,427
Sunday: 704,806 - the Sunday newspaper combines The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News, which are published together
Source: media monitoring service BurellesLuce for the six months ending March 2006.

The newspaper’s readers are made up of an equal number of men and women. They are mostly ages 35 to 54 (42%), married (59%) and own their homes (74%). 14% of professionals are involved in management, business and financial operations, while 17% are in sales.

Examples of current editorial coverage
The newspaper’s business section covers trends (mostly) and news (some). Editors want local news that has to do with money. If national news is relevant to their readership, they’ll write it from a Denver viewpoint.

Web site
The Denver Newspaper Agency, which publishes Rocky Mountain News and The Denver Post through a joint operating agreement, reports that each online visitor accesses their site 9.3 times a week, on average.

The newspaper site is big on Web 2.0 features. Web extras include video, audio, photography, front-page gallery, special reports, slide shows, blogs and forums. The business section includes categories, such as business calendar, market watch, aerospace and real estate, among others.

How to pitch
The most important aspect of your pitch is its “news value,” says Rudawsky, who also says they have a soft spot for photos and charts. In a perfect world, he wouldn’t have to hear from anyone but “some good sources to speak with.”

He suggests the following five tips:
#1. Read the newspaper before you reach out to a journalist. Become familiar with their coverage, angle and style.
#2. Personalize your news so that it’s about the ways your business venture affects people. What useful information can the readers take away from this article? A good idea would be to quote an expert or a client in your pitch.
#3. Suggest an angle for a trend story.
#4. If it applies, include the fact that you are local in the subject line.
#5. Paste your query into the body of the message and email it to individual reporters. You can find the beats list and contact information at: http://denver.rockymountainnews.com/aboutus/contactus.shtml

What not to do
#1. Don’t hound the writers and editors. Avoid following up more than once. Assume the responsibility of checking whether your story ran.
#2. If you must pitch by telephone, don’t do it late in the afternoon; anytime after 3 p.m. (especially on Fridays) is deadline time.
#3. Don’t send news about business openings, product releases, etc.
#4. If you are a local company, don’t hire an out-of-state PR firm to pitch for you. “They don’t know the first thing about us or the markets,” Rudawsky says.
#5. Don’t confuse Rocky Mountain News with The Denver Post. Even though the newspapers’ business operations have merged, their “editorial operations are separate and distinct,” he points out.

Contribute to Rocky Mountain News
The newspaper doesn’t accept prewritten contributions, but you can let your voice be heard in their guest opinion column. The editors prefer ‘speakouts’ on local matters; these columns shouldn’t exceed 650 words. Email letters(at)RockyMountainNews(dot)com or pitch the Business Editor at reuteman(at)RockyMountainNews(dot)com.

Meet Rudawsky and other editors
Rudawsky hints that he wouldn’t mind taking up a PR person on the suggestion to meet in the Starbucks in their building. “Most journalists will be hard-pressed to turn down some coffee,” he says. You can also invite one to lunch, but the meeting must be conducted with the understanding that it’s “only for information purposes” and may not necessarily result in coverage.

Comments about this Interview

Jul 20, 2007 - nettie hartsock of Hartsock Communications says:
Great story. Years ago (1994) - I was invited by Jon Nordmark to be on a panel for StartUPBaseCamp which he had started up to help companies that were trying to make it in the heydays of the Internet (before the burst). Jon is the CEO of ebags.com - one that is still amazingly around! This article reminded me of the panel I was on and there was a great savvy female reporter from the Rocky Mountain news on the same panel and she kept fielding questions from the participants at the conference about how to get covered. Finally after much frustration from being asked the same inane questions, she just came out with this great five things you don't want to do if you ever want us to cover your news. YOu still have two of them in the article! The great thing about the Rocky Mountain News is they have absolutely consistency and journalistic integrity that outweighs any tricky pitching! I also like that they will have a Starbucks with you if you play your cards right. On a cold day in Denver, there's nothing like a warm cup of Java to heat up your news angle so they might be inclined to cover it. Great article and insight! Now I just gotta figure out how to pitch them one of my book authors that alas, lives out of Denver and out of the state itself! Drats!



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