You can never sharpen your professional tools often enough. At a recent PRSA Miami panel I attended, local media leaders shared their insights on how each of us can become “go-to” PR pros for media. Even after all my years in the PR industry, I still found myself learning something new.

It helped that the panel comprised some of Miami’s best and brightest media leaders: Miami Herald Managing Editor Rick Hirsch, WPLG-10 Assignment Editor and Futures Planner Kerry Weston, and Univision radio host Bernadette Pardo.

At the end of the panel, I felt that the tips they shared applied whether you are handling local and national stories. Below I’ve shared my top takeaways for becoming a trusted, go-to PR pro.

Building Relationships With Journalists

  1. Reporters are not interested in what you have to say about a story that happened yesterday. Be in the moment. News is perishable.
  2. When offering up your client as an expert source, find the person who knows the most about a topic to be the spokesperson, not a communications department representative.
  3. No response from a reporter is a response.
  4. Hone your contact list. Make sure you are reaching out to the right contact at all times.
  5. Follow reporters on social media. You will know where they are and the stories they are working on.
  6. Using direct message on Twitter does get reporters’ attention, but don’t overuse it.
  7. Don’t send news items to the whole newsroom – just the editor and the reporter.
  8. Reporters are getting a lot of story ideas from Twitter now.
  9. Honor the exclusive – don’t give them away.
  10. Be accurate as possible. It’s OK to say, “I’ll get back to you.”
  11. Follow reporters on LinkedIn to see where they are currently employed.

Print Vs. Online

  1. Resources are more limited than ever these days. As such, newspapers are producing more content for web, smartphones and tablet audiences. Consider that when crafting your pitches.
  2. On a similar note, provide your own multimedia (pictures, video or audio) whenever possible. By going that extra mile, publications will be more likely to make space in your story to incorporate those multimedia elements, thereby providing audiences with a richer reading experience.

Spanish-Language Media Relations

  1. When it comes to Spanish-language media, leave the stereotypes at the door.
  2. Don’t exclude Spanish-language outlets if your spokesperson doesn’t speak Spanish. If the story is compelling enough, the outlets can translate for the spokesperson.

Pitching Television

  1. If you are pitching television, be sure to actually watch it. Programming for the viewer is constantly evolving at a rapid pace.
  2. Pictures make things hard to cut and paste, so don’t include photos in a release. It’s harder to move the information to the day book.

Whether you are fresh out of school or have been in the game for years, these takeaways from Miami’s media leaders shine a light on what we’re doing well and where we can improve. What’s clear is that at the end of the day, in a 24/7 socially connected world, we continue to have more and more resources at our fingertips to hone our contacts and pitches.

What’s your advice to fellow PR pros?