During my internship at Solomon McCown, I’ve learned that one of the most important responsibilities of a public relations professional is developing relationships with the media. It’s crucial to understand the media on a macro level: How journalists develop and pursue stories, the timeline for writing an article or a post and how to best approach members of the media with a pitch.
It’s also extremely important to spend time on a micro level learning the ins-and-outs of specific publications and the reporters who write for them. Taking the time to learn a reporter’s beat, what kinds of stories he or she writes and when it’s best to reach out to a reporter goes a long way in increasing the chance of a media placement.
I was fortunate enough to take a tour of The Boston Globe’s presses and sit on a newsroom planning meeting to gain a better understanding of how the paper is produced from story development to the finished printed product.
We first toured several of the Globe’s newsrooms as reporters were busy starting their days. Then it was on to the 10:00am editorial meeting.
The 10:00am morning meeting used to be held at 10:30, but due to the nature of the industry and the growth of online news, the Globe felt meeting earlier was necessary and may even meet earlier in the future.
In the meeting, each section editor lets the team know what stories they have in the pipeline, from those that are in the early stages to those that are nearly complete. The editors also discuss collaboration between sections on pieces, such as stories that have graphic or video components. Newer to the meeting are the presentations on BostonGlobe.com and social media traffic. The team looks into which stories are performing best on which platform. Finally, the team checks in on the layout of the latest print edition of the next day’s newspaper and whether it’s all set or where there is still room for additional stories.
After the morning meeting wraps up, we toured the Globe’s physical printing presses and saw where thousands of tons of newsprint are pressed each week.
On the first level, the Globe stores up to two months’ worth of paper. Standing behind a yellow line in the storage space, we watched as robots lifted a roll of paper, drove across the space and loaded it into the printing press. Each roll weighs 1,200 pounds and would take 30 people to lift. According to our tour guide, the robots can run for 12 hours before they need to recharge.
The next stop on the tour was the plating room, where laser technology and aluminum plates are used to essentially make a plate of each page of the paper. A plate functions as a stamp, and is filled with ink when the paper is printed.
The plating process is new technology compared to the old printing press, seen below, where a worker would type in the text by hand before the printing press was filled with ink and printed. The Boston Globe used this system until 1976 and keeps a copy of the last paper ever printed with it.
From our last stop and vantage point on the highest level, we saw sheets of newsprint running through the presses. I could clearly see the masthead and formation of some of the articles!
As an aspiring PR professional, it was an incredible learning experience to witness the media in action and gain a better understanding of how PR professionals and journalists can work together. Thanks to The Boston Globe for a fascinating look inside the newspaper process from beginning to end!