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Confessions of CNN producers revealed!

By Lisa Goldsberry

cnnLearn what they really think about your press releases

Have you ever wondered what happens to your press release after you send it off? Those who attended Axia Public Relations’ latest webinar, “Confessions of CNN Producers,” learned what the journalists and producers at this media giant really think about the information they receive. You can access a recording of the event here.

Getting your company on CNN may be difficult, competitive and challenging, but it is absolutely possible. You just have to know why many pitches fail and avoid making those same mistakes.

Things that CNN producers secretly hate

The producers at CNN are extremely busy; they receive more than 100 pitches and press releases each day. Additionally, since there is always news happening, they are confident that even if they take a pass on most of the press releases they receive, there are still plenty of stories left for them to fill the air time. As a result, it doesn’t take much for them to stop reading or outright ignore your press release. A few of their pet peeves include:

  • Misspellings – These cause reporters to doubt your credibility. If you can’t even spell correctly, how good can your information be?

  • Talking about their competition – Don’t try to interest them in your story by pointing out that a competitor did it first.

  • Kissing up – Instead of wasting time trying to flatter the producer, get to the point with your information.

How to increase your chances of getting on CNN

Know the right person to contact. Nothing upsets CNN producers more than receiving press releases about topics they do not cover. Once you have established the right person, build a relationship with that person before you ever send a pitch about your company.


Think more global than local. Since CNN is a national, 24-hour news outlet, its producers typically look for stories that will appeal to the widest possible audience. They prefer information that will affect millions, not thousands. For example, the fact that your new product is now being sold at a grocery store chain in your area will not be of interest. However, a pitch about how grocery store chains are initiating a trend toward the availability of more organic food across the country and how your product fits into that could be worthy of a mention on CNN.


Create the best press release possible. Remember the key elements of news: proximity, timeliness, consequence, conflict, human interest and oddity. Stories about human struggles, disagreements, someone overcoming adversity and unusual events are most suitable for CNN’s audience. In addition, something happening near or in a large city, as well as news about someone well-known is more attractive to CNN producers.


Don’t forget about the other CNN vehicles. Stories may initially appear on CNN.com or Headline News and then be picked up by CNN. Also, don’t neglect your state or regional publications. An article in a large, major daily newspaper can often draw CNN’s attention as well as that of other national outlets.


Make the reporter’s job easy. Provide everything she may need to cover your story, including visuals and experts who are immediately available. Give this information as clearly as possible under a great subject line or title.


Hire a well-connected PR firm to help you. At Axia, our professionals know the right people and have achieved success in pitching to the producers at CNN. Watch our webinars and learn more about how we can put our expertise to work for your company.


Lisa Goldsberry is a writer for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business, higher education and technology PR. Connect with Axia Public Relations on Twitter @axiapr.

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Topics: public relations

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