Member Type(s): Content Publisher
Media - Freelancer
Media - Broadcast
Media - Print Journalist
Media - Student Journalist
Media - Web-only/Blogger
Media - Other
Organization:ProfNet Connect (PR Newswire)
Area of Expertise:Media Relations, Hispanic Media
To become a ProfNet premium member and receive requests from reporters looking for expert sources, click here.
Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you.
This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Amir Khan, a health and wellness reporter for U.S. News & World Report, where he covers a variety of health topics, including health technology, diet and nutrition and fitness, all with an eye towards helping consumers make the best possible decisions about their health. Please read more about Amir below.
We hope you find SPOTLIGHT both enjoyable and informative.
Have you always wanted to be a journalist or did you start out in another field?
I definitely didn’t know that I wanted to do journalism. I went to Stony Brook University not knowing what I wanted to do and took an entry-level journalism class because it fulfilled a requirement. I enjoyed it and decided to take another, and everything kind of fell into place from there. I can’t imagine being in a different field now though.
Where was your first "real" job in journalism?
My first job out of college was writing for the International Business Times, but I consider my first real journalism job to be at Everyday Health, where I worked last year before moving over to U.S. News and World Report. That job taught me a great deal about covering health, reading studies and identifying trends.
How did you become a health and wellness reporter? Has that particular genre been your primary focus or were you thrown into it?
I’ve always loved health and science journalism. The New York Times’ science section was regular reading for me growing up – so when I got into journalism, it just made sense that this would be my area of coverage. My first internship was at a magazine called BioTechniques, where I did high-level science writing. After that, I interned and eventually freelanced for Popular Mechanics where I covered interesting studies and new technology. From there everything kind of rolled along to bring me where I am today.
What type of stories do you enjoy covering the most?
Health technology stories are definitely my favorite – whether it’s a new kind of fitness tracker, a new treatment or a cool gadget. I’ve always been a bit of a geek, so covering this came pretty naturally to me. I’ve had a great opportunity to write about new technologies at U.S. News and I’m really grateful for that.
Do you make suggestions as to what stories you cover or are they assigned to you?
It’s both! One thing I love about working for U.S. News is that my editor Angie lets me cover what interests me – you always write better when you’re genuinely interested in the topic at hand. I’ll pitch her stories, she’ll recommend some to me, and we figure out what we should do. It’s a real team effort to decide coverage.
What advice do you have for PR professionals who want to pitch you?
Pay attention to my coverage. Don’t send me pitches for something that’s far out of my scope of coverage. It only serves to clog up my inbox.Even if we’ve worked together before, if I just get pitch after pitch of stories that aren’t related to my coverage, I’m less likely to work with you in the future.
What should those that pitch you always do and never do?
Always check to make sure your expert is available before pitching to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone pitch their expert, only to email me back and tell me they’re actually unavailable.
Never stalk me. I’ve had PR people email me, then follow up with a call 2 minutes later and then email again if I don’t answer. Give me a little bit of time to respond.
What's the best way for someone in PR to start a working relationship with you?
Introduce yourself to me first. Don’t just send me a press release and expect me to respond to you right away. A quick paragraph about who you are makes me much more likely to read it.
Do you have advice for members who respond to ProfNet queries?
Be sure to provide me with a phone number! If I need something at the last minute, I'm more likely to call someone instead of email.
What type of experts do you prefer to work with?
I prefer to work with doctors who are affiliated with hospitals. I tend to stay away from doctors who are part of weight-loss programs or are selling things.
What has been your most memorable or most difficult assignment?
One of my most memorable stories actually came just a few weeks ago. I was working on a story about healthy snacks for football Sunday, and I managed to snag an interview with the Food Network chef Robert Irvine. It was kind of surreal to me, because I’m a huge fan of his shows.
Do you use social media as part of your job?
I do! Besides promoting my stories on my own personal Twitter and Facebook account, I also help manage the U.S. News social media accounts, where I promote all of our stories, blog posts and Twitter chats.
What do you think you'd be doing if you weren't a journalist?
I’d probably be a chef. Before going to Stony Brook, I seriously considered going to culinary school. I still love to cook though – my fiancée and I cook dinner together just about every night, and it’s one of my favorite hobbies.
How has the industry changed from when you began your career?
The biggest shift has been in how writers deal with readers. When newspapers and other outlets first moved online, it was very print-on-web. Now, the pages are more dynamic, and many have interactive charts, graphs etc. More than that though, I think journalists have finally learned that engaging with your readers is a great way to build your brand and keep them coming back to you. It’s no longer a one-way conversation. My goal as a journalist is to be the type of person people seek out to see my take on the latest health news.
Do you have advice for someone just starting out as a journalist?
Do as many internships as you can. I did three throughout my college career, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Media outlets are looking for experience, they don’t want someone they have to train. Internships are the best way to make contacts in the industry, get clips, and land a job out of college.
About Amir Khan
Amir Khan is a health and wellness reporter for U.S. News & World Report, where he covers a variety of health topics, including health technology, diet and nutrition and fitness, all with an eye towards helping consumers make the best possible decisions about their health. He also helps manage the organizations’ social media accounts.
A native New Yorker, Amir grew up in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn. He attended Stony Brook University, where he obtained a B.A. in Journalism. While attending Stony Brook, he was Managing Editor of the school's online newspaper, the Stony Brook Independent. He also held three internships during his time there – Biotechniques Magazine, the New York Daily News, and Popular Mechanics Magazine.
Prior to taking a job with U.S. News & World Report, Amir wrote for the International Business Times and Everyday Health.
Besides writing about health, Amir is an avid homebrewer, a Mets and Jets fan and a fantasy football nut.
Amir currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his fiancée, Jen, their dog, Ranger, and their cats, Teddy and Moe.
It’s that time of year for journalism students again!
If you're one of them, put those thinking caps on (Does anyone say that anymore?), get organized and start applying before you lose the opportunity to work for a limited time and gain valuable experience at a renowned news organization.
Benjamin Mullin of The Poynter Institute provides a great list of internships and fellowships from around the country:
The New York Times James Reston Reporting Fellowship Deadline: Oct. 31 Location: New York City Pay:$1,000 per week Description:“Beginning with the second week, the Reston Fellows start work in a section that reflects their skills and area of interest to report and write stories under the guidance of editors or senior reporters. Some stories are assigned, but fellows are encouraged to come up with their own ideas. They also participate in workshops with ranking editors and reporters. The goal of the program is to provide an opportunity for the fellows to stretch their journalistic skills with the help of some of the best reporters and editors in the country.”
The Washington Post Deadline: Nov. 7 Location: Washington, D.C. Pay: $750 per week Description:“Our interns write articles, edit copy, take photographs, design pages and produce graphics. We treat them as staff members during their 12 weeks of employment.”
The Boston Globe Deadline: Nov. 1 Location: Boston Pay: $700 per month Description:“Summer interns work as full-time employees for 12 weeks, between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Interns are paid a weekly wage, and shifts vary. An intern supervisor serves as a writing coach and there are weekly meetings with editors and staff members on a range of issues and topics pertaining to journalism.”
Deadline: Not settled yet; likely the first week of January, per AP spokesman Paul Colford. Location: Major cities throughout the world Pay: Not listed Description:“The summer 2014 Global News Internship is a paid, highly selective, 12-week individually tailored training program for students who are aspiring cross-format journalists. Interns must have experience and/or training in video and one other format. They will contribute to AP’s text, video, photo and interactive reporting.”
The Los Angeles Times Deadline: Jan. 1 Location: Los Angeles, Washington D.C. Pay: $700 per week Description:“Interested in working with some of the best journalists around? We offer 10 weeks of intensive, hands-on experience in a region where big stories are the norm. We place interns throughout the L.A. Times: Metro/Local, Sports, Business, Features (Home, Image, Travel, Food, Mind & Body), Arts & Entertainment, Editorial Pages, Washington, D.C., bureau, Photography/Video, Data Desk, Visualization & Graphics, Design and latimes.com. These are paid internships and summer placements usually run from mid-June to late August.”
Google Journalism Fellowship Deadline: Around the end of January Location: Various journalism nonprofits throughout the United States Pay: $8,000 for 10-weeks, plus $1,000 travel stipend Description:“The program is aimed at undergraduate, graduate and journalism students interested in using technology to tell stories in new and dynamic ways. The Fellows will get the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to a variety of organizations — from those that are steeped in investigative journalism to those working for press freedom around the world and to those that are helping the industry figure out its future in the digital age.” Disclaimer: I was a 2014 Google fellow.
Atlantic Media Fellowship Program Deadline: End of February 2015 Location: Washington, D.C. and New York City Pay: $25,000 per year, with full benefits Description:“Atlantic Media offers high-achieving recent college graduates a unique opportunity to participate in the Atlantic Media Fellowship Program. The Program is a structured, year-long paid fellowship for top-tier talent committed to editorial-side or business-side careers in media. Each year we look forward to our new class of Fellows, who add a fresh perspective and new ideas to our company initiatives. As a digital-first company, we have experienced tremendous growth as a result of emphasis on digital initiatives, and our Fellows have been key contributors.”
Every year People puts out its Sexiest Man Alive issue which I (and many others) look forward to eagerly every single time. They always do a great job with the publicity that leads to an announcement which is covered by almost every media outlet in the country.
This year, People has decided to place another sexy man on the cover in addition to Hollywood’s hottest hunk. If you’re a news anchor, sports anchor or weather anchor, now’s your chance to get in on the action!
All you have to do is tweet your choice (name and Twitter handle, if available) to @peoplemag using the #SexiestAnchorAlive hashtag. The contest runs now through Oct. 22.
In today’s world, news is available to us around the clock every day of the week. The internet and the advent of social media mean we are informed constantly on different platforms – mobile phones, tablets, laptops, television, radio, newspapers.
There is no excuse to not be informed, yet for the majority of young adults, news consumption isn’t as important and some don’t bother with news at all.
Tuesday, Oct. 7 will be the first ever National News Engagement Day which was created to raise awareness about the importance of being informed. Another goal of the initiative includes encouraging people to engage with news by reading, watching, tweeting and discussing. Also, helping people of all ages realize the benefits of news, educating the public about journalism and ensuring news engagement does not disappear.
The idea came from Paula Poindexter, the 2013-2014 president of AEJMC (Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication). A journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Poindexter first proposed setting aside a day every year to revitalize the public’s engagement with news, regardless of generation” in her book Millennials, News, and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past? (New York: Peter Lang, 2012, pp. 131-132). As president of AEJMC, Poindexter made National News Engagement Day one of her most important presidential initiatives.
National News Engagement Day events will be taking place in a grand majority of the states, the District of Columbia, and six countries (newsengagement.org). These events will be sponsored by journalism and communication programs, news associations and communication organizations, local and national media, civic organizations and foundations, and primary and secondary teachers.
NBC news anchor Brian Williams addresses National News Engagement Day:
To listen to the audio file from the National News Engagement Day Press Conference held on Tuesday, September 23, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., please click the link below:
Being a journalist is not easy. It is hard work and requires a lot of effort. Preparing a story takes time and requires a lot of research. Over time it can become tedious, repetitive and may take some encouragement and cheering from colleagues, family and friends to stay motivated. Hours are crazy, stress is high – a mood booster really is sometimes necessary.
What do you to feel good and to get motivated? Perhaps you work out or maybe you listen to music. One newsroom in London has a very unique way of pumping of their staff. Last month I read an article and was surprised to discover that The Times of London was playing typewriter sounds into their newsroom to increase their energy. Can you imagine walking into your newsroom and all of a sudden hear these sounds? Would you feel motivated? I don’t know if I would be but I loved the sound of a typewriter as a kid. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, ping!
If you’re among the younger generation, you probably never used a typewriter. If you’re in your forties or older you will likely recall the days of typing your stories or your high school book reports and college essays on one. I sure do. I had both the “old-fashioned” one which got my hands stained with ink and an electric one from Canon. I remember thinking it was a savior. No more ink, no more trouble fixing mistakes. It had a tiny screen so I could see what I was typing, then I’d hit enter and it would print. I loved it. Of course now it may have well been an inkwell and feather pen.
I give Rupert Murdoch credit for trying to get the best out of his staff. That’s a good thing, right? But, if you never heard the sound of a typewriter would it be encouraging or just annoying? It would be nostalgic for me, but I do think it would slowly drive me mad, the same way department store employees are subjected to the same loop of ten songs all day long, day in and day out. Ay!
What’s your take on this? Is it a good idea or would you at some point throw your computer at the speaker system? I’d really like to know.
Getting your information correct is always important, no matter what industry you work in. If you’re a journalist, however, extra effort is necessary or you could get into a whole lot of trouble. You need to make sure the details in your report are accurate so as not to mislead your audience and it’s also your responsibility to ensure that what’s said by those you interview is correct.
If your name is attached to a report you’re held accountable for what you put out there, so it’s imperative to get the facts straight, do your research, and if your gut makes you question something, trust your instinct and check it out.
Here are some articles that will help guide you and teach you the art of fact-checking.
On Tuesday, Sept. 2, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Building Your Expert Brand Through Books," with Ashley Jones, director of marketing and business development at Greenleaf Book Group.
Jones discussed the biggest mistakes beginners make, whether you need a lot of money to promote your brand, increasing visibility, and much more.
Please follow @ProfNet and @editorev on Twitter for more information on future chats or check back right here on ProfNet Connect for details.
Ashley, please tell us about Greenleaf Book Group and what your role is there.
Greenleaf is an exciting place. Our goal is to help people with big ideas grow into recognized thought leaders. We are a hybrid book publisher and we bring together the best aspects of traditional and self-publishing. Greenleaf authors have access to our strong distribution team keep creative control, IP and most of the royalties. We also help authors think beyond the book and leverage their ideas and content in new ways.
The book publishing industry is so competitive. How do you distinguish yourself and your books from everyone else?
Books are an important thought-leadership cornerstone. To stand out, authors need an online platform and audience building. Tactics like exclusive content for email lists, feedback from beta audiences, and videos to expand messages go a long way. An audience who supports the book when it launches is a huge advantage. They are like passionate partners.
What does branding and marketing mean for authors?
Authors engage in marketing all of the time. Book signings, social media, or paid advertising are good examples. While some authors recoil at “marketing,” it’s about helping people who are interested in the author’s expertise and relationship building. Branding is part of marketing. A brand is the meaning audiences attribute to a product, service, or individual.
Do you need a lot of money to effectively promote your brand?
There are lots of brand-building tactics that authors can engage in without spending a lot of money. Authors can leverage social media, attract audiences and use creative tactics to engage their audiences. Many tactics are free or inexpensive, if an author is willing to put the energy and time into them.
How can Greenleaf help an independent author build their brand?
For authors, building brands is about knowing the audience, creating a strong message, and sharing that message. Greenleaf works with independent authors to build the right kind of brand to attract a loyal audience. The tactics we recommend depend on the author, their message, and the audience they should be reaching.
For example, a fiction author would be likely to have a very different approach than a business author.
We focus on creating a strategy, building assets like a website, a presentation, and social media presence, and finding the audience.
What are some steps a new author can take to increase their visibility so media and others see them as experts in their fields?
Building an expert brand can be challenging. The most important step is to determine audience and message. Next, it's key to make yourself look like an expert with an online presence, public speaking, and media presence. Media attention can be garnered through sites like PR Newswire or direct outreach to the press. We also recommend working with PR agencies -- a good publicist can help to build media buzz, which is invaluable.
Would you consider blogging an effective way for someone to promote their book and expertise?
Blogging is a GREAT tool for all authors. It is a venue to share ideas with a wider audience. Blogging helps to build SEO value (so you can be found online), credibility, and connect with an audience. If treated correctly, your devoted blog audience will be the first people to read and promote your book.
What are the biggest mistakes beginners make when it comes to brand?
There are two big mistakes I see authors make when building their brands, and there are easy ways to avoid both: 1) Building brand elements (i.e., website, business cards) before getting clear on a message or plan; 2) Not sticking to a brand-building plan. It's easy to get distracted; make a plan and stick to it.
It's easy to see how authors make these mistakes. Building a brand is hard work and it’s easy to lose focus. To avoid these mistakes, authors should create and stick to a plan where each step connects to long-term goals. Having a branding professional on your team helps. We know what mistakes to watch out for, the best timing, and what to focus on.
Let's take a step back. How can someone develop enough content to write a book to start their journey as an expert and build their brand?
Most people who are considering a book are surprised to find that they already have content that they can use. I love blogging as a first step -- blogging is a great way to organize and share ideas and test them on an audience. Greenleaf also helps authors to evaluate their ideas and gives feedback on concepts submitted to us.
Do people who want to work withGreenleaf need to have some of their work already published before you consider them?
No, many Greenleaf authors are first-time authors. We are highly selective, but we love working with new authors.
Some people may think this is an overnight process, but how long can it take for a new author to become a trusted expert?
Brand building is often a long process. Ask anyone who is an overnight success. They'll tell you it took years. Experts can avoid wasting time by starting their brand on the right foot -- a clear message and strong online assets.
Speaking opportunities are a good way to get visibility. How can someone go about getting those opportunities or increasing them?
Authors who want to speak need a professional presentation and a great topic to speak on. Audiences want to hear about ideas, not about the book -- they want a topic that is exciting, not a sales pitch. With a good topic and presentation, reach out to your local @NSAspeakers chapter or speakers bureau for opportunities.
Do you recommend that an author partner with another more successful one?
Partnerships with other authors, businesses, or organizations are always beneficial for new authors. Those brands have audiences who may be excited about a new author's ideas -- access to their audience is great. It's key for new authors to think about what they can offer partners. Speaking or promotion are a few options.
What role does social media play? What should an author be doing to drive sales and visibility?
Social media is great for building interest and sharing ideas. Staying active and sharing relevant info is key.
It's key to give value to an audience, not be focused on self-promotion. People love authors who provide value. That's true everywhere, especially in social media. I want to follow someone who gives me great info. Don't you? Social is helpful in book sales, but it's not a direct link. Social media is about relationships, not sales. That said, authors with truly strong social media followings often see strong book sales.
Greenleaf Book Group has a conference coming up. What's it about?
Greenleaf's Summit is about helping authors build brands, books, and connect with each other. We'll go into details about the topics above, and others for new and experienced authors.
When and where is it and how can an author register?
Our next #ConnectChat, "Building Your Expert Brand Through Books" will feature Ashley Jones, (@GreenleafBookGR), the director of marketing and business development at Greenleaf Book Group in Austin, Texas.
Ashley will discuss how to establish yourself as an expert, building a brand through your book(s), growing your audience and much more.
The chat will take place Tuesday, September 2 from 3 to 4:30 p.m, EDT. To submit questions for Ashley in advance, please email email@example.com or tweet your question to @ProfNet or @editorev.
We'll try to get to as many questions as we can. Of course, you can also ask your question live during the chat. To help you keep track of the conversation, we’ll use the #connectchat hashtag. Please use that hashtag if you are tweeting a question or participating in the chat.
If you can't make it to the chat, don't worry -- a transcript will be provided on ProfNet Connect the next day.
About Ashley Jones
Ashley is the director of marketing and business development at Greenleaf Book Group.
She is a results-oriented, creative marketing professional with experience in marketing strategy, brand architecture, and program creation for top brands and thought leaders. Throughout her career, she has created successful marketing campaigns including award-winning advertising and highly targeted word-of-mouth programs. At Greenleaf, she is using her strategic skills to help authors build their brands and connect with audience
Many people learn about the power of networking during their professional career. Networking can be the key to building a strong professional relationship with an individual. However, is it more important to network online versus offline these days? Where do you go to connect with professionals? These are all questions we discussed in our last #ConnectChat with Lisa Chau, a social media strategist and PR and marketing consultant.
In our mini-blog series about mompreneurs, we introduced mompreneurs, discussed the marketing done by mompreneurs, and are now ending it with some final suggestions from six mompreneurs. These mompreneurs share their experiences and expertise on the best way to balance being a mom and business owner, the future of the mompreneur movement, as well as any final tips they want to share with moms running or looking to run a business.
It’s back-to-school time. I was scrolling through Facebook when it occurred to me that all of my parent friends, teachers, and school administrators are preparing to return to their classrooms.
So in this spirit, I dug into the massive world of education blogs and found some great sites. I also stumbled upon an immense universe known as Edublogs, an education blogging service powering more than 2.4 million Edublogs since 2005. Say what?
Grammar Hammer: Every Day I’m Hustlin’… (Cathy Spicer) A suggestion from a loyal reader (thanks, Cal!) is the subject of this week’s post. Is it “everyday” (one word) or “every day” (two words)? I’m also an admitted music geek, so I’m always inspired by song titles. Both of these words refer to something that occurs on a daily basis. The best way to determine which word to use is always the context in which the word will be used.
This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Rachel Weingarten, an internationally recognized lifestyle writer, style columnist and award-winning author. She’s a prolific freelance writer and weekly style columnist for Parade.com, and opinion columnist for NYC’s most widely read daily newspaper amNewYork.
MEDIAware, PR Newswire’s Audience Research Department weekly newsletter, features recent media changes in the industry. PR Newswire Agility members receive addition contact/outlet information for being members of our Agility community.
Business Development Institute (BDI) hosted an event about how leading healthcare brands are planning for the future including integrating big data, digital, mobile and social for innovative communications that improve patient outcomes. The event was moderated by Steve Etzler, CEO/founder of BDI. Here are the seven panels and highlights from each panel:
I recently caught up with ProfNet member, Crystal Cooper, a senior account executive at public relations firm, Porter Novelli. She told me how she continues to gain media exposure for her clients using ProfNet.
This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Yamiche Alcindor, a breaking news reporter at USA Today who splits her time covering quickly developing incidents and stories about the social issues affecting the United States.
She’s traveled across the country to cover stories including the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Trayvon Martin case, and the hazing scandal at Florida A&M University. She also spends time writing about societal concerns such as human trafficking, civil rights, gun violence, and poverty. She has been a frequent guest on MSNBC, C-SPAN, NPR, America’s Radio News Network and a variety of radio stations and local television stations across the nation.