Recently, a crew of San Francisco-based Vocians got together after work to attend the “Inside the Newsroom” panel hosted by our local PRSA chapter. Featuring a lineup of top-notch reporters from some of our favorite publications, the discussion provided Bay Area tech PR professionals with journalists’ perspectives on crafting a strong pitch, the state of the media, and emerging trends like artificial intelligence.

Here are some of the key takeaways from our teammates who attended the event:

I found it interesting that when asked what he’s looking for in a source, Fast Company’s Sean Captain explained that often, he finds it most helpful when a PR person acts as a meeting orchestrator rather than pitching him hard news right off the bat. “When reporters take the time to actually speak with companies off the record for casual introduction meetings, often times, ideas for stories originate as a result.”

Ariel Rothbard, Senior Client Executive

When discussing the elements of a strong story, WIRED’s David Pierce noted that the first question his editor asks in response to a pitch is, who’s the main character? “It might be uncomfortable to talk about individuals, but that’s the stuff we – and more importantly, our readers – really love getting into,” he told us. As an example, David referred to his former colleague Cade Metz’s article about Dropbox’s departure from Amazon Web Services. By focusing on the personalities behind the news – the innovators making it happen – Cade turned a cloud announcement into one of the magazine’s most popular pieces in recent memory. Something for all of us PR pros to keep in mind when crafting company narratives and pitching new products: How can we humanize our news?

Leonora Fleming, Senior Client Executive

During a time when the media has never been more important in the world, it’s important to remember that publications are still figuring out and experimenting new formats and ways of delivering journalism to a digital-first audience. David Pierce shared that the outlet recently launched Snapchat Discover and will populate it weekly with breaking news, smart analysis, conceptual breakthroughs, engaging videos and more. This sparked an important reminder for PR pros: when you’re pitching a story – always ask yourself what the reporter would ask, how can I make this story idea relevant across all channels (social media, videos, etc.)?

Samantha Van Gent, Senior Client Executive

From your friends at Voce, many thanks to Sean, David, and panelist Jason Wilson of VentureBeat for sharing your thoughts with us, and to PRSA Silicon Valley & PRSA San Francisco for organizing an insightful conversation!