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Airing 911 calls is becoming more common during newscasts but do they do any good to the general public? As we approach the one year commemoration of the Sandy Hook school shootings, it makes the topic ever more relevant.
The 911 tapes were released on Wednesday but do we really want to listen to them? Better yet, do we need to listen to them? Do they serve a purpose other than to relive a tragedy that still resonates in the minds of parents who send their kids off to school each day and to those who experienced it firsthand? The horror of that day need not be recalled and news networks and local news teams need to be keenly aware of the impact airing such calls could bring.
In certain instances airing a 911 call can be beneficial in that it can help clear up any confusion regarding a certain event. The George Zimmerman case comes to mind as it was absolutely crucial to know what was said in the 911 calls after they came into question. Such calls can also help confirm if a dispatcher is behaving inappropriately which can lead to disciplinary action if there’s proof any actions or lack thereof, may have impeded the timely arrival of emergency crews. This is good use of airing a 911 call.
Sandy Hook, on the other hand, seems pointless, but this is just my opinion. As a parent, it’s one of the worst scenarios you could ever face and hearing the 911 calls from that day just doesn’t seem to do anything but provide macabre audio. We know what happened. That’s more than enough.
If your newsroom is discussing whether or not to air the Sandy Hook 911 calls, ask yourselves if it’s really news and if it offers any public benefit. If the only comments your reporters or anchors can make after airing clips is "just awful" or something to that effect, yes, we already know that day was "awful," but their saying it doesn't add anything to the story.
What happened on December 14, 2012 was news and part of history, but the actual calls are not helping anyone. They were important a year ago, but not today.
Internships are a coveted part of a college student’s life, a hope that with such an experience an even better opportunity will come along in their field of study.
These days, however, some internship programs are under scrutiny by students for not giving them at least a minimum wage salary and for being assigned what they feel are tasks without educational benefit. Students are going as far as SUING these media giants as a result of their unsatisfying experience.
Just recently Condé Nast announced the elimination of their internship program, meaning students will no longer run errands and do research at publications like Vogue and Vanity Fair -- a huge blow for students hoping to get a foot in the door at one of the most prestigious fashion magazines in the country. All of this as a result of two unhappy interns who made the decision to sue Condé Nast for not paying them minimum wage.
This isn’t the first case of interns suing their “employer.” Last year an intern at Hearst’s Harper’s Bazaar sued the publication for making her work 55-hours a week without pay.
There are always two sides to a story and every person’s experience with an internship will be different from another intern, even at the same outlet. The experience from an intern’s perspective can be either one as the glass half full or the glass half empty. There’s the acceptance that an internship is known to be a low-paying opportunity to get firsthand experience at a company and realize it’s something worth the sacrifice.
The other perspective is that of an intern who feels belittled at the menial tasks they’re made to perform without pay for very long hours. Not to say some interns aren’t treated well because certainly, there are situations where some assignments really may seem completely ridiculous at the helm of superiors who abuse their authority. While it may be part of what comes with being an intern, if the main responsibilities given to an intern really are demeaning or not related to their field at all, then a company needs to revamp the internship program and carefully vet those who supervise interns.
Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of the interns whose only desire is to learn how their field really operates and not get crushed in the process. Not all internships are like that. Many (if not most) companies try to provide an atmosphere that’s conducive to learning and making interns feel comfortable. Is it possible that some industries may also just be more prevalent to not treating interns fairly?
Quite frankly, suing doesn’t seem to be the answer with regards to internships. Legal action against a colossal company seems a bit ridiculous when you always have the option of quitting an internship. No one is forcing an intern to stay and don’t most people know that internships are unpaid (in some states like New York there are laws that don’t allow employees to work without pay even if they’ve consented) and require long hours? For every person who says they got “nothing” out of it, there’s someone who got plenty from it. The demise of these internship programs is not a good thing and students can always decide whether or not an internship will fit their financial and educational needs.
Both sides can learn from this now in some way – companies can perhaps pay minimum wage or a fair stipend with reasonable work hours and students can be more selective in choosing an internship. There’s always a choice.
For more information about this topic, please click here and here for the articles used to help create this post.
Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist to share their personal story and insight with you.
This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Carmen Cusido, an associate writer for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Carmen worked in journalism for 11 years, reporting for The Times of Trenton and The Charlotte Observer in addition to The Daily Targum and others.
We hope you find SPOTLIGHTboth enjoyable and informative.
Carmen, please tell me about you and your role at the Wildlife Conservation Society.
I began my career as an associate writer for the Wildlife Conservation Society in February 2013. My office is actually based at the Bronx Zoo, and it’s pretty remarkable to be able to see some of the exhibits during lunch. But even though our headquarters are in New York, we have scientists helping to save wildlife and wild places, and in general doing important work throughout the world.
Some of my responsibilities at WCS include translating messaging from English to Spanish, writing narratives for our annual reports and other printed materials, and developing op-eds and letters-to-the-editor with senior conservationists. We have a great communications team, and I’ve always felt I could ask any of my colleagues for guidance as I transitioned from reporting to public relations work. Needless to say, I love what I do and the people I work with.
Did you know you wanted to be a journalist as a child or did the idea come to you later on?
As a young girl, my parents would bring me different Spanish-language newspapers and encourage me to read to them (one of them was El Diario La Prensa). We didn’t have too many Spanish-language children’s books around when I was a kid, so my parents who try to find the most age-appropriate articles for me to read and discuss with them. It was important to them to teach me about civic engagement. They left Cuba in the 1960s for political reasons, and were always fascinated by our First Amendment rights and the fact that an average citizen could write a letter to the editor or attend a protest. That’s what whetted my interest in journalism.
My passion for writing was solidified at 16, when I began taking journalism and drama classes with my late high school teacher, Jack O’Connor. Jack always pushed me to write better stories, ask better questions, and not get discouraged. “Carmen, this paragraph is too long. This quote doesn’t make sense. What angles can you take with these stories?” he would ask. He was a mentor and a friend. It was through Jack that I learned about Columbia University’s School of Journalism, and it became my life’s goal to attend the school. I can now say I’m a proud 2010 graduate of The Journalism School. I enjoy speaking to students at Union City High School’s Career Day every March in New Jersey– it’s a way for me to honor Jack’s legacy by returning to my alma mater but it’s also a way for me to give back to young students.
Where was your first job in journalism?
My first job in journalism was as an editor for The Daily Targum, the award-winning college newspaper at Rutgers University, where I earned by bachelor’s degree. The Targum where I got my first taste and love of politics, and writing about political issues. In my three years as a reporter and editor there, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to cover an affirmative-action protest, to Trenton to interview students fighting budget cuts, and to Boston to cover the 2004 presidential campaign. In fact, one of the highlights of my three and a half years at The
Targum was heading to Boston with a staff photographer to cover Election Day in 2004. I ran into the late Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, and heard John Edwards speak to a group of supporters later that night. It was an honor to both blog about the Republican National Convention that year in New York City and be at a Democratic gathering in Boston watching Election night returns and interviewing people.
In the years since, I have interviewed delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in 2012, cancer survivors, political and religious leaders, a beekeeper who loved his hobby and teachers who encouraged their students to raise funds for a local food bank. The longest journalism job I’ve had was the four years I spent at The Times of Trenton. While there, I acquired great editors and mentors like Toni, Brian and Peter who encouraged me to let my curiosity lead me to better stories. What type of stories do you usually cover?
When I worked as a reporter, I typically covered everything from county news and immigration to religion and education. My mother is a retired teacher who’d worked in the Jersey City Public School system in New Jersey for about 25 years. Needless to say, I enjoyed spending time in classrooms reporting on the work of students and teachers. In fact, one of the achievements I’m proudest of is the New Jersey Press Association Award I received for my two-part series reporting on some of the challenges that caused once-promising schools to lose their charters.
One of the more challenging articles I worked on was for the Home News Tribune in East Brunswick years ago. I reported on undocumented workers hired to clean up at the Milltown Post Office in Milltown, N.J. I knew there was a strong story there, but postal officials wouldn't answer my questions, and my editors were letting me know, not exactly subtly, that the deadline was looming. What was originally a story about the borough’s post office not yet being reopened months after the April 2007 Nor’easter, switched focus to the USPS subcontracting with a business that hired undocumented immigrants to clean up the debris. After dealing with reticent USPS spokespeople, I returned to the post office, copied down the phone number and name of a garbage truck leaving the scene, and through them was able to connect with the company that contracted the undocumented immigrants. It’s one of the better examples of “don’t give up” that I have. Are your stories usually assigned or do you suggest your own stories?
It was usually a combination of me suggesting my own stories and editors assigning them to me. I can give you a couple of example of a story I came up with on my own just by examining my surroundings.
For instance, at a Career Day event at Union City High School in 2011, I noticed a young girl taking an elevator usually reserved for teachers, guest speakers, and students with injuries. “I’m pregnant,” she said by explanation, when a fellow classmate asked why she wasn’t taking the stairs. I learned from a fellow speaker that my alma mater, which had expanded to another part of the city a few years before, now offered a day care for teen students with children. Since Union City was outside my newspapers’ area of coverage, I did some research in Mercer County, New Jersey, and discovered that Trenton Central High School did indeed offer day care for students with children. I ended up writing a story for The Times of Trenton.
What do you like the most about being a journalist?
I liked that every day was unpredictable.
I remember hours before the devastating earthquake hit Japan in March 2011 I was scheduled to go to happy hour with a friend and on a date later that night. I swiftly canceled both those engagements and got to work trying to localize the story. I was able to connect with Japanese Americans in Mercer County, NJ and got an e-mailed account of the terrifying earthquake from a Princeton professor who was in Tokyo at the time. Miraculously, I was able to make deadline. What advice do you have for PR professionals who want to pitch you a story?
Try to be respectful of a reporter's time. I've had public relations professionals call at the end of the day, in the middle of a deadline, and they try to nudge to get an answer as to whether the reporter is interested in covering a certain story. I think the best way for PR professionals to pitch a story is to first send an email to gauge interest in the topic. I would send a follow-up note or call a few days later to try and get a definite answer from a reporter. What should they always do and never do?
I think public relations professionals should always do some research about the publication they’re pitching and see if they’re a good fit. I think it’s also great to create a good rapport with a reporter and vice versa. By the end of my four-year tenure at The Times of Trenton, I already knew some communication officials’ anniversaries and birth dates. They also knew about certain aspects of my life. It never went beyond a professional relationship, but it was nice for us to get to know each other and have pleasant and productive conversations.
PR professionals should never be rude or too pushy. Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever dealt with a rude communications professional. What's the best way for someone in PR to begin a working relationship with you?
That’s an interesting question because I’m now in public relations myself. I think the best way for a public relations professional to have a great working relationship with a reporter is for both individuals to get to know each other better. It’ll lead to more productive conversations. Great story ideas sometimes come from informal conversations between PR professionals and reporters. What is the toughest part about what you do?
One of the toughest things about being a reporter were the deadlines. I’m a perfectionist, and I always felt the need to go back and re-work paragraphs or add or remove quotes from the final text. I think another really tough aspect of being a reporter was reporting on people who’ve died tragically and/or publically. In those cases, it’s pivotal to be sensitive to the families and officials you’re interviewing (part of that means not rushing or interrupting a person when they’re speaking – even if a deadline is looming). What's your advice for someone thinking of going into journalism and also for someone who's just starting out in the industry?
I would say not to get discouraged if you don’t get your “dream job” right away. Many news organizations are cutting back, but if you’re tenacious and reach out to editors with freelance story ideas, or do a good job of networking and staying in touch, they may call you when they have an opening. It's also important to read a lot of newspapers, magazines, books and trade publications. It's important to understand what makes great journalism.
I think it also goes without saying, but you also don’t go into journalism for the money (it can be challenging at times to live on a reporter’s salary). Also, don’t expect to have traditional work hours in most cases. There were times I worked 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (I loved that time slot because I could sleep for part of the morning and miss most of the traffic) or from 4 p.m. until Midnight.
How do you use social media as part of your job?
I will follow certain people or Twitter hashtags to see what’s being said about any of WCS’s major campaigns.I’m also a pretty proud nerd, andattend conferences focusing on how to use social media more effectively. I try to attend as many of Sree Sreenivasan’s workshops as I can. Sree is a social-media guru who always teaches people new ways to connect (at one of his recent events, I learned about Twiangulate.com. If you plug in your Twitter handle, it'll give you information on your most influential followers. Another helpful site iswww.crowdbooster.com, where for a nominal fee, you can get instant feedback on the number of retweets, likes, comments and more to help you build your brand or stay on message).
What type of experts do you prefer to work with? Do you prefer someone in a higher level role or is someone not as high up acceptable?
I don’t think I’ve ever given too much thought about whether they were in a higher role or not, but I do say I prefer to work with experts who are professional and knowledgeable. Have you ever given thought to doing something other than journalism?
As a recovered anorexic, I originally thought I would make a good psychologist. My goal was to help people recover from eating disorders and be a bilingual resource for people in immigrant communities. Ever since I turned 16, however, my heart has belonged to journalism. I thought I could help more people by reporting on topics like mental health issues and muscular dystrophy. I continue to have a deep respect for the work of mental health professionals. In fact, the valedictorian of my high school class is a psychiatrist. You just returned from a trip to Cuba. What was that like and why did you go?
I was able to go to Cuba on an educational visa with The Chamber of the Americas, based in Denver, Colo. Since I still have family left in Cuba, I could have gone on my own, but I preferred to go with a group.
As the daughter of Cuban exiles, I felt compelled to visit my parents’ homeland for the first time (I’m hoping to blog about my experiences, too). Like many U.S.-born children of Cuban exiled immigrants, I learned about the human rights abuses, lack of political and press freedoms and other forms of repression from the time I could utter my first word. I vowed not to visit the island until the current communist system was part of the country’s distant past. Yet I have also heard from others that many Cubans are happy and well-educated. After visiting the island, I can say I was pleasantly surprised to hear of our speakers openly criticize the government (something I frankly didn’t expect). I was also happy our group patronized several “paladares,” or restaurants run by entrepreneurs rather than government officials.
Without going too much more into politics, I can say with confidence that I returned to the United States a prouder American than when I left, and I’m forever grateful that my parents made the difficult decision to leave their home country when they did.
When you're not writing, what do you do in your spare time?
In the past, I’ve volunteered for a great non-profit organization called Minds Matter in New York City. As a volunteer there, I would spend several hours on Saturdays during the school year helping accomplished high school students from low-income families prepare for their college careers. One of the things I’d do was read and critique their writing, including their college application essays.
I now spend most of my free time visiting with friends and family or traveling the country (my goal is to visit all 50 states; I’m down to 12). But I also enjoy networking in New York City. I belong to two wonderful organizations: one is IvyConnect and the other is the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Some of IvyConnect’s events happen to be at art galleries. Any time I could combine my love of art with getting to meet new people I know I’m in for a great evening. But being a part of the New York chapter of NAHJ this year actually encouraged me to live healthier. The journalism organization partnered with Chrysler this summer in a walking challenge to win a free trip to a convention in Anaheim last August. Needless to say, I did a lot of walking in my spare time to get my trip paid for!
November 22, 1963 is a day most Americans will never forget. Whether you were alive then or learned about the tragedy in school years or decades later, the assassination of our 35th president, John Fitzerald Kennedy, will never be forgotten.
"Where were you when Kennedy was shot?" is a question that continues to reverberate today, often with responses that demand our attention and leave us with a lump in our throat. It was a moment in our country's history, a tragedy which is still one of the most terrible things to have happened in the United States. Someone had killed our president -- it was unthinkable.
Back in 1963 the media was very different. Wires were received via real paper -- we had the rip and read format. Television news was relatively new and radio was a key way people got their news. There was no social media and we had to depend on the country's journalists to tell us what happened. No one can forget Walter Cronkite making the announcement that Kennedy had died. He was visibly moved but did the job he had to which was to tell the country what had happened.
It's vital not just to remember the historical significance of that sad November day 50 years ago, but also for journalists to look back and realize how far journalism has come. Back then television news would have probably broken into programming to announce a news bulletin and then immediately have gone back to the soap opera or whatever show was on. Today news breaks and journalists are on the scene quickly, providing us with the latest updates almost as soon as the incident takes place. We can see the news happening and feel what people are feeling.
Regardless of the passing of 50 years, the footage available allows us to feel and see the collective mourning and disbelief people felt when the news was told. So on this day of remembrance, this post is not just to commemorate a beloved man and leader, but to also go back in time to see how we were being told of the tragic events that unfolded on November 22, 1963.
Have you ever wondered if you've ever said too much on social media? We've all done it at least once to varying degrees, but do you realize just how much so little can actually say?
What exactly are you giving away on social media? You're probably thinking, "not much," but it could be plenty. If you're telling people where you are, what you're eating, or your dog's name, that's plenty of information for a complete stranger to find out more than you want them to know about you. So much so, someone could pretend to be psychic because one picture or tweet could say a whole heck of a lot.
Next time you use social media, be very vigilant about what you're posting or it could come back to hurt you. Use the privacy settings and make sure only people you know have access to your information and photos.
The videos below are perfect examples of people having their eyes opened to the reality of how much impact their social media/online use really has. Our information is out there for all to see.
We regularly update our ProfNet Connect calendar to include upcoming events we think will be of interest to PR and media professionals. Here are a few events coming up over the next few weeks:
Event: Online Hate Speech Around the Globe Host: Online News Association DC Date: Nov. 19 Location: Washington, DC Summary: For the upcoming ONA meetup, Internews Project Director Will Ferroggiaro will discuss Internews’ human rights program, which focuses on the role of media in conflict, whether inciting violence or mitigating its causes. Currently, Internews works with local partners in Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Burma to monitor media for hate speech. Complete event info here.
Event: Peer Group with former president Kathy Gilles Host: PRSA Westchester/Fairfield Date: Nov. 22 Location: Purchase, NY Summary: Join our well known and highly respected guest-advisor Kathy Lewton, MHA, MSJ, APR, Fellow, Public Relations Society of America -- former national president of PRSA -- who will lead a discussion of your issues and objectives plus value-added and organic growth including: Complete event info here.
Event: Beyond the Ordinary: Improving Coverage of Disability Host: Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication Date: Nov. 25 Location: Phoenix Summary: Ryan Gabrielson of California Watch, winner of the inaugural Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, discusses reporting on disability issues. Introduction by Steve Doig, Knight Chair in Journalism Complete event info here.
Event: Inside Social Marketing Host: Mediabistro Date: Dec. 3-4 Location: New York Summary: a comprehensive look at social media innovations and monetization issues impacting top digital media and marketing experts. Our case studies and real-world perspectives offer attendees a deep analysis of the latest Facebook and Twitter tools, metrics, and advertising trends. Navigating the big opportunities and fast-changing risks that are impacting brands, retailers, publishers, and agencies across the entire social media landscape is what ISM is all about. Complete event info here.
Event: Cocktails & Conversations: Where is the Print Industry Going? Host: New York Women in Communications Date: Dec. 5 Location: New York Summary: That tactile sensation of holding something tangible as you read is still a powerful draw. Yet, to remain vital, traditional publishers must follow the audience to their preferred platforms. So, magazines, books, and newspapers are morphing, and digital is more and more part of the mix. Yet, how it all shakes out depends on where media brands place their bets today. We'll ask our panelists about strategy, content, and the industry's outlook for the future. Complete event info here.
Event: Region 5 Conference Host: National Association of Hispanic Journalists Date: Dec. 7 Location: Dallas Summary: Get ready for the December NAHJ Region 5 conference “Voces Unidas” in downtown Dallas. Meet recruiters, local news managers and national news correspondents, producers and executives. Univision’s Maria Antonieta Collins and CNN’s Ramon Escobar plan to be at the conference. The conference starts on Friday, December 6 with an opening reception at the Fairmont Dallas. On Saturday, December 7 expect a packed day of informative panels with some of the best experts in journalism. Complete event info here.
Event: The Weekend Host: The Publicity Club of NY Date: Dec. 12 Location: New York Summary: Luncheon followed by panel discussion with journalists. Complete event info here.
Event: Obamacare: Covering What Comes Next Host: Poynter Institute Date: Jan. 22-24 Location: College Park, MD Summary: The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, raises complex and often very personal questions for Americans. Reporters can learn the facts and nuances of this program, how it works, what it means and how to localize this story at a three-day Poynter workshop in January. Complete event info here.
Last night I was studying my almost two-year-old daughter and it dawned on me that she is completely mesmerized by my cell phone, my tablet and my laptop. She eagerly reaches over to grab my iPhone and screams to watch, “Mini! Mini! Agnes! Agnes!” (She just can’t get enough of anything Despicable Me.) Although I try to keep her television viewing to a minimum, it can be very difficult to keep a mobile device away from her sweet little hands.
This same girl squirms and screams during diaper changes and most times she gets placed into the car seat, and the only thing to exorcise this toddler possession is -- you guessed it -- my iPhone. Those tiny fingers somehow manage to open the many apps I have for her and also find their way to my camera roll where she happily announces, “Photo! Photo!” each time she finds an image. This little person is the future. Can you imagine what the future will be like for her if she’s already gravitating towards mobile technology? I think she knows more about the iPhone than I do.
Many, many, years ago, who would have thought that people would pay for television? Then in the blink of an eye the dawn of cable and satellite arrived. What about coffee? Would you ever have thought we’d pay $5.00 for a cup of coffee? Then a chain seemed to take over the world. Things we didn’t see as possible are now the everyday and we don’t really question it. So back to my original question: Where is the future of media?
I think it falls within mobile but the challenge among media outlets and even other industries is how to make money with mobile devices and the internet? Online departments are going to have to seriously study the habits of people. As it is, most people click on “Skip Ad” when give the option and anytime commercials play before a selected video make people leave the site. I don’t have the patience, personally.
Many newspapers have struggled to reach the level of online paying subscribers they wanted when they went behind a pay wall system which undermined what the newspapers thought was valued content by readers. The internet has always been free to a certain extent and people just aren’t willing to open their wallets for something they’ve never had to pay for.
But just like television and coffee, times change and a new audience will be ready to use mobile in a way we haven’t yet. My baby will likely be part of that revolution.
On Tuesday, Nov. 12, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Breaking Into Freelancing for Magazines" with Linda Formichelli (@LFormichelli), a full-time freelancer who has written for more than 150 magazines and websites.
Linda discussed everything from starting out, query letters, pay, if you need your own blog and much more. If you're new to freelancing or have some experience, you need to read this recap.
Please follow @ProfNet and @editorev on Twitter for more information on future chats or check back right here on ProfNet Connect for details.
Our guest today is Linda Formichelli, a full-time freelancer who has written for more than 150 magazines and websites.
Hi, Linda! Thanks for being our guest on today's #connectchat!
Hi, everyone -- thanks for being here! I'm excited and a bit nervous! :)
Can you please tell us about yourself and how you started your career as a professional freelance writer?
Finished MA degree in 97 in Slavic Linguistics but really wanted to be a writer. I taught myself how to write pitches and got started. Now been freelancing full-time for 16 years: Mag writing, copywriting, content marketing, blogging, teaching.
What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to break into freelancing for magazines?
Writing for content mills like Demand Studios to gain experience and clips. They pay badly & DON’T make good clips. You CAN get great clips without writing for bottom-feeders. 1 way is to pitch small & local magazines, other is to write for free for nonprofit or hobby magazines you love. Also, don’t be afraid to pitch big magazines right off. A kick-ass query can get you in the door. I had one student in my Write for Magazines class who broke into SELF with NO clips at all.
No clips? Is that really possible?
Yes. Sometimes a GREAT idea and pitch trumps clips. Also, your blog or website can be a sample. We all start with no clips!
What should be the first step made?
Build a writer website, get a LinkedIn profile set up and start pitching. No need to know everything there is to know. Too many writers want to learn and learn before they pitch - but you learn best from experience!
Many people fear writing query letters -- what are they and what do they do?
Query letters are sales letters that tell an editor what your article idea is and why you’re the best person to write it. It’s an art form that takes a while to learn but once you get the hang of it you can write them fairly quickly. In most cases you would write a query, not a whole article - that way editor can give you specs.
What should a query letter include and never include?
A great query includes an eyeball-grabbing lede just like one you’d write for your proposed article. A query should have a “nut graf” - paragraph after the lede that summarizes what you want to write. A great query shows your research with stats and quotes from pre-interviews you did with experts. Whatever credentials you have that make YOU the perfect person to write this, include near the end. You need to ask for the sale: Can I write “Title” for you? OR: Thanks for considering my article idea for Magazine-I look forward to your reaction! A query should NEVER tell an editor what you CAN’T do -- only what you CAN. No clips? Don’t bring it up.
Can you pitch different magazines with the same idea?
Yes, it’s called simultaneous querying. You HAVE to do this because often editors don’t answer when they’re not interested - or they take weeks to get back. May want to pitch your A-list magazines first, then B-list etc. That way you don't risk selling to C-list first then hear from A-list.
What happens if two editors want to take you up on your idea? What do you do then?
That happened to me only one time in 16 years, with Family Circle and Woman's Day. Told 2nd editor it sold and they said "I better be faster next time!" But in short, it happens RARELY so don't worry about it. More common you don't hear back at all.
How many query letters should be sent?
It depends on your success rate. But when you’re starting, ALL the time you have available you should be pitching and marketing.
How is a letter of introduction (LOI) different from a query letter?
LOI introduces yourself and your credentials and works best with trades and custom publications. Never had one work for consumer/national magazine. FYI, custom pub is mag published FOR a company - like mag you get from your bank or insurance company. Find a ton at customcontentcouncill.org
What do you do when you don't have any published articles to show that you can write?
First, your query IS a sample of your writing, so make sure it’s great. No clips? You can go without and at first pitch topics you have some credentials in. For ex, if you’re an RN, pitch health topics. Or send the editor to your best blog posts or guest posts you’ve done. Chances your article will be exactly what magazines need are slim. If you wait till you get an assignment, editor will tell you what she wants so you don’t have to guess.
How do you go about writing an article? Do you have one prepared in case someone likes it or do you wait for someone to tell you to write something?
No, in most cases write a query before you spend time writing an article that may not sell. But if you're passionate about it and just want to write it, go ahead! This is called a "spec query." Article is written on spec.
Lisa Glover sent in this question last week: Is it possible to be a travel publicist and a freelancer at the same time?
Yes, but you have to set clear boundaries. DON'T pitch articles re: the destination you represent. Also, how does your employer feel if you pitch articles about other destinations? Could be sticky.
Does it take long to get paid?
Often, yes. Redbook took 9 months. Typical terms are net 30 but magazines are often late. Once you have a lot of clients, it's not so bad because you have steady stream of checks, though.
How long can the cycle take from start to finish, from query letter to acceptance to writing and finally being published?
Varies greatly, but big magazines have 6-month lead time, so you need to pitch 6 months in advance Smaller magazines and trades are less.
How do you make yourself stand out?
By not being crazy! Seriously, editors run into some crazy &^%$ from writers. Be professional, be on time and write well. That’s it.
Should you create your own website? That takes me back a bit to what do you do when you don't really have enough to create a site yet if you're just starting out?
You DO need a site. Ed once told me if he’s on the fence re: giving writer assignment, he checks their site. No site=no sale. If you have no money and a lot of time, you can create something simple on Wordpress. It does NOT need to be fancy. Your site IS a sample of your writing, so don’t worry if you have no clips yet. Put up a great About Me page, Hire me, Contact. Add clips when you have them.
Is a blog better?
Blogs are good clips but you have to be really committed to it because no editor likes seeing a dead blog, so make sure you like your topic enough to write about it consistently for a long time.
If you haven't been published before, is the content you write for your blog acceptable?
I always say “You gotta use what you have.” So if a blog is all you have, that’s what you use. The BEST clips are published articles from established magazines but what you have you use and don't forget your pitch is a sample
How can a PR person target a freelancer and develop a relationship with them?
Learn the freelancer’s beat. I couldn’t stand it when I used to get press releases on, say, travel destinations when I was a health writer. Don’t add freelancers to a press list without their permission. When you offer a source to a freelancer, follow through. Can’t count how many times a PR rep suggested a source who then wasn’t available. That puts the freelancer in a tough spot with their assignment!
How do you personally work with PR reps?
I’m now focusing on blogging, coaching and e-books, but in the past I liked to approach reps when I needed a source. Only once did I work with a representative who sent me a random pitch. Usually liked to come up with my own ideas and find sources.
If a publication asks you for a free article, what do you recommend?
Ask self: WHY would you write for free? Do you really want/need this clip? DON'T be fooled into writing for exposure. People die from exposure. You get better exposure from paying magazines, which tend to be bigger and more respected. But sometimes writing for free makes sense if you have 0 clips and want some fast.
Please tell us about your latest book and where we can find it.
It’s called Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race...And Step Into a Career You Love & will help you quit your job to write. Buy Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race...And Step Into a Career You Love on Amazon for just $2.99: qub.me/bGwkqC Or check out more on the Write Your Way website: www.therenegadewriter.com/write-your-way....
How do you find the right person to email for magazine pitches?
The editor of the department you’re pitching - for ex., Health Ed, Features Ed, Science Ed. If in doubt, a senior or associate editor is often a good bet. For small magazines and trade magazines, can sometimes have luck w/EIC or managing editor.
Any tips or tricks for crafting the best email subject line to get your query read?
The trick is to let editor know you're a freelancer not a PR rep and want to grab the editor’s attention. I like to write "Query from Freelancer: KickButt Title.”
What is an average word count for clips?
Clips can be any word count - it depends on the assignment you had. Don't worry re: clip length!
Do you have a different approach to the way you pitch ideas for consumer vs. trade publications?
For consumer magazines I write full researched query and with trades usually a letter of introduction with a few quick ideas.
I have a LinkedIn profile for my day job. Should I create a second one for freelance writing? Have writer site, no LinkedIn.
I think LinkedIn wants you to have just 1 profile. Would need to combine your experience but I'm not a LinkedIn expert. You may want to check to see what other freelancers do.
I'm a science journalist with clips. Want to write A LOT for trades in STEM, recs to find and pitch/LOI?
For trade pubs, try tradepub.com . Also Google "trade mag" plus your keywords - simple but powerful!
It feels like everything has been done. Any ideas to inspire fresh writing ideas?
True, they HAVE all been done. You need to put your personal slant on it. For example, what's the OPPOSITE of the idea? Can you broaden a narrow idea into a round up or take round-up and expand each part into an article? Make a local idea national & vice versa?
Do you include clips with the query, or wait to be asked? And how are they sent: pdf attachments, links, both?
Mention your clips but don't include – editors may ditch emails with unasked-for attachments. When asked for them, you can send PDFs, Word files, links to your online articles...whatever works! BUT I've heard editors don't like to be sent to your website - why put it on them to find and download your clips?
I want my niche to be health and wellness, what advice do you have for becoming a good writer on a certain topic?
It really is about practice. Keep pitching and eventually you'll have a niche and will develop a list of sources, etc. When you develop a niche, pitching will be faster and you'll be in many editors' "stables" of freelancers they turn to.
Can I offer to take my own photos? Or does editor make decisions on his own about photos?
It depends on publication. You could offer but most big magazines have their own photographers.
My niche is becoming geocaching and I'm not sure how I like that but I keep getting paid assignments. How to break the niche rut?
Pitch outside your niche! A great query plus good clips in ANY topic shows you can write on anything.
Do you recommend starting w/ magazines w/ a high rate of freelancers?
I wouldn't bother trying to figure out freelance rates. It’s better to spend time pitching ANY magazine you're interested in.
I'm a freelance writer/blogger and have been trying to pitch women's magazines but haven't had luck. Any advice?
Women's magazines are a TOUGH nut to crack. It took me tons of pitches. If you're getting "nice rejections" you're on the right track. No-answers & form rejections=not quite right.
Do you recommend pitching same/similar story idea to numerous pubs at one time or spacing a few weeks in between?
All at once, but I divide up into tiers: A-list magazines first, then B-list, etc.
After Writer's Market, what is your next favorite source for finding magazine markets?
If you haven’t checked out the Blogs section of ProfNet Connect lately, you’re missing out on some really great posts. Here’s a link to some of last week’s most popular blog posts:
The Q&A Team: Shifting Gears Into Slow PR. Most people have heard of the “slow movement” (slow food, slow art, etc.). This installment of our biweekly The Q&A Team looked at the "slow PR" movement: what it is, how it compares to traditional PR, the benefits, how to transition into it, and successful examples of it: bit.ly/1b9CC5C
Pitching the Home & Garden Beat. At a recent Publicity Club of New York luncheon, editors and producers of home and garden outlets shared their tips for pitching your stories to their publications. Panelists included John Newlin of Livingly Media, Tracey Eyers of NBC/LX Open House, Orli Ben-Dor of Hearst Design Group, Maxwell Ryan of Apartment Therapy, Kim Velsey of New York Observer, and Jill Fehrenbacher of Inhabitat: bit.ly/17FoKVq
Blog Notes: Tech, Men’s Lifestyle & Personal Finance Blogs. As PR Newswire's media relations manager, Christine Cube comes across great blogs that cover a wide variety of topics and interests. Each week, she offers brief profiles of blogs you might not have heard of but that might offer pitching opportunities for your clients. In this latest installment, she shared reviews of a few technology, personal finance, and men's lifestyle blogs: bit.ly/1cMXfak
Using Executive Voice to Increase Social Media Engagement. Your executive voice can be a powerful addition to your social media strategy. The key is to integrate your executive’s social media presence within the overall brand’s social media strategy. By doing so, it will help prevent one from overpowering the other. Even though your CEO might be an established brand within his industry offline, social media will potentially reach a much wider segment of your audience globally. Therefore, you’ll need to start building your CEO’s credibility out of the gate. Sandra Coyle, founder of Coyle Communications, shared her tactics: bit.ly/19viDkJ
Influential Media Outlets That Used ProfNet in October. Check out this list of some of the hundreds of influential media outlets that featured ProfNet experts in October: bit.ly/18WEGfJ
Master Digital Press Releases and Get More Journalism Coverage. Bulldog Reporter recently hosted a PR University webinar, "Mastering Interactive News Releases: 7 PR Secrets of Digital Press Releases That Woo Editors and Wow the Public." The powerhouse panel of social media and PR experts included Taylor L. Cole, director of PR and social media for Hotels.com; Melanie Moran, executive director of integrated communications for Vanderbilt University News and Communications; Shade Vaughn, director of PR and events for Rosetta; Serena Ehrlich, director of social and evolving media for Business Wire; and Sarah Skerik, vice president of social media for PR Newswire/MultiVu: bit.ly/1hmCCb2
Measurement & Connection: Takeaways From the PRSA International Conference. This year’s PRSA International Conference in Philadelphia reprised many themes common to public relations, but with a new twist. The influences of social media, content marketing and digital marketing measurement were common threads, linking discussions about pitching, strategy and measurement. There’s a good reason for this -- digital activities are incredibly measurable, and our peers in marketing gleaning spectacular amounts of insight about audience interests and behavior from their data, and that data is impacting other communications practices. Sarah Skerik, PR Newswire's vice president of content marketing, shared some takeaways from the conference: bit.ly/17ETFRL
Grammar Hammer: Into the Great Wide Open. Are you unsure of when to use "into" vs. "in"? That's the topic of the latest Grammar Hammer, which includes both an explanation and some examples: bit.ly/18KHJYx
MEDIAware Media Moves and Updates. MEDIAware, PR Newswire’s audience research newsletter, has gone from monthly to weekly! Each issue is chock-full of media news and job changes. In this issue, you'll read updates on Associated Press, The Atlantic, AARP Bulletin, Glamour, Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, Redbook, Sun-Sentinel and more: bit.ly/1iHV0Xr
Protecting Your Privacy on Social Media. Many of us are concerned about social media privacy, whether for ourselves or for the brands we represent. In our latest Twitter chat, Joanna Belbey, social media and compliance specialist for Actiance, Inc., discussed some of the precautions companies and consumers should take to ensure they are safely using social media: bit.ly/19SCD00
What were your favorite blog posts last week? Which ones did you find most helpful/interesting?
Most of us get our news online, on our mobile devices, or maybe even on TV every now and then. With the decline in newspaper readership, is it appropriate to still consider newspapers a “mass medium”?
Fewer and fewer people rely on newspapers to get the majority of their information, and if you count in that most folks probably aren’t paying to read more than the allotted free articles per month, it may be safe to say that the days of calling newspapers a mass medium are almost over. Almost, but not quite yet.
Although we don’t read a print version of a particular newspaper as we did in years past, the content lives on through their online presence. That needs to be taken into consideration.
Each paper copy of a newspaper is also likely viewed by more than one person, which helps increases the paper’s value, but it’s almost impossible to get any metrics on that.
Many get their news via social media, but those articles come from somewhere and aren’t created by the social media platforms themselves. Each of these “shares” increase the number of views to each newspaper’s site.
Newspapers are still a mass medium, in my opinion. Regardless of the number of them declining and staffs shrinking, the content is still being produced and making an impact.
What do you think? Please read the article on which this blog post is based here and make sure to include your comments below.