Evelyn Tipacti

    • Member Type(s): Content Publisher
      Media - Freelancer
      Media - Broadcast
      Media - Print Journalist
      Media - Other
    • Title:Community Editor
    • Organization:ProfNet Connect (PR Newswire)
    • Area of Expertise:Media Relations, Hispanic Media

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    Giving a Good TV Interview, Part Three: Message and Interview Techniques

    Thursday, March 10, 2016, 2:01 PM [Media 411]
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    You’ve prepared. You look great. You’re ready. You can do this. Lights! Camera! Action!

    Once the camera starts rolling, there’s really no turning back, no second chance, especially if you’re on live television. This is the third part of our series of interview tips. For parts one and two, see:

    Here, I’ll focus on getting your message across by using specific interview techniques to ensure that what you need to say gets said.

    Elizabeth Kwolek is a group manager of public relations and research director for Sweeney Marketing + Public Relations in Cleveland. Elizabeth is responsible for directing the agency’s public relations and research services and has previously worked as a producer for television news productions in national, regional and local markets. 

    Here are Elizabeth’s tips for getting your message across:

    • Develop three key messages or talking points that you can incorporate in your interview when responding to questions.
    • Make your message points short and simple since the video will be cut down to short soundbites.
    • Practice the messaging before going into an interview. Consider potential questions the reporter may ask you and think about how you want to respond so you are ready to respond and incorporate your key message points.
    • Be careful not to over emphasize your message, while you want to clearly communicate your message, don’t repeat the same answer over and over for every question.

    Joy DiNaro, senior media relations director at Amendola Communications, is a new-media guru, supporting clients with innovative PR programs that integrate social media strategies with traditional media relations outreach and digital corporate marketing initiatives.

    Joy shares different interview techniques to make sure you give your best interview:

    Flagging: Use phrases to highlight the importance of a point or key info so it doesn’t get lost during a lengthy interview. Examples:

    • Let me emphasize the importance of…
    • The most important issue/fact is…
    • What we really need to remember is…
    • The bottom line is…
    • The key thing is…
    • The best part about that is…

    Bridging: Quickly transition from the question asked to the information you want to share (your core messages). Use these phrases:

    • Before we move in that direction, let me tell you about…
    • That’s a good question, but I think your readers will be interested in…
    • That’s not my area of expertise, but I can tell you…
    • Before I can answer, I need to provide some background/explain…
    • Let’s not focus on claims, but on actual results such as…
    • Let me just add…/Let me put that in perspective
    • Let’s consider the larger issue…/It’s important to remember
    • Yes/no, and in addition to that…
    • Let me explain / That’s because…
    • What I think you’re getting at is…

    Hooking: “Trap” a reporter into hearing and capturing a number of important points. Examples:

    • There are two important points that I need to make to answer that question… (#1)…(#2)…
    • That is an important issue, but I think these three points are equally important… (#1)…(#2)…(#3)…
    • To avoid shortchanging your readers, I need to address three key points…

    Joy also has some advice if you’re caught in a difficult situation. Use these tips to help you:

    • Don’t appear flustered – control your voice & gestures to communicate calmness.
    • Maintain eye contact (when appropriate).
    • Listen to the questions, request clarification if necessary.
    • Stop when you have answered the question.
    • Give yourself time to collect your thoughts: “That is a complex question…”
    • Don’t repeat negative language.
    • Accentuate the positive.
    • Be honest – never bluff!

    Being prepared is the key. The pros make it look easy because they’ve prepared for the interview. As you keep doing them, you’ll become more confident. Of course, you’ll be nervous if it’s your first interview but, over time, your confidence will increase.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Giving a Good TV Interview, Part Two: Preparing

    Thursday, March 3, 2016, 11:08 AM [Media 411]
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    This is part two of our series on "Giving a Good TV Interview." (To read part one, which focuses on your appearance, please click here.)

    Whether you’re taking a test, performing at a recital, having a baby or traveling, for all of these events you have to do one thing first. Prepare! Giving a media interview also involves preparation and you want to make sure you do a few things before a journalist is asking you all sorts of questions.

    Terri Thornton was in radio and TV for 20 years before founding Thornton Communications, an award-winning Atlanta-based PR and Content Marketing firm, so I asked her to share her advice on how to prepare.

    These are her top suggestions: 

    Questions to Ask

    “Will it be live, or recorded?”

    If it's live – anticipate every possible question you might be asked. You don't want to be surprised on live TV! Also, assume you are live the entire time, even if it seems like you’re off the air. If it’s recorded, you have a little more flexibility, but less of it will likely air.

    “Where will the interview be?”

    The crew may bring their gear to your office or event and set up in a spot with something interesting in the background. If they ask you to come to their studio, you may be on a set facing the interviewer as you would in any other conversation. But, especially with national interviews, you might be sitting on a stool in a nearly empty room, answering questions someone in another city is asking through an earpiece. Don't worry - it will be fine! 

    “How long will it be?”

    This is really a two-part question.

    • How long will it take to do the interview?
    • How long will your part of the final story be?

    If you’re being interviewed live at your office or in a studio, it may take a few minutes to set up, and the interview may last three or four minutes. When I prepare my clients for interviews, I set a timer for four minutes. They are generally shocked at how quickly the time goes by. But they have an idea that this is a whole different time frame than anything else they will encounter during the average work day – even their busiest ones.

    If a reporter’s covering an event or breaking news, they probably want short, informative, catchy sound bites. You might talk for five minutes, but only a few seconds will end up on the air. A recorded interview in the studio or your office may last much longer, but again, the time it takes to record it may have no bearing on the amount of time you are on the air.

    “When will it air?”

    It’s always subject to change. It might be scheduled for a specific time in a specific newscast. It might be up in the air. Or it might be online only. After it airs, it will probably be available on the web. Assuming everything goes well, you should be able to share the link on your social media channels.

    “Do you need any other video or photos?”

    A reporter needs a lot more than a “talking head” to make a good story –they also need compelling visuals that show what’s happening and keep people watching. If you have video, infographics or images, make the reporter aware before the interview starts.

    “What part will actually air?”

    This question can wait till the interview in completed. If it was live – they just ran all of it! (Though they may also use parts of it again later.)

    If the interview is recorded, the reporter may already have an idea how things will fit together. If they do, this gives you the chance to avoid a potential misunderstanding and clarify a few fine points.

    But don’t be disappointed if they don’t know yet. They may have other interviews to do. They may decide as they write and assemble the story.

    One Final Exercise

    Finally, here’s a preparation exercise to improve the odds that what you consider the most important part of a recorded interview will actually air.

    • Determine your absolute most important point or points.
    • Think of an analogy that people will understand. Comparing a complex point to something relatable helps you and the journalist.
    • Talk it through ahead of time with someone you trust. Keep it as simple and concise as you can.

    During the interview, it’s okay to say it more than once – you might say it better the second time, anyway!

    Just avoid the sort of jokes or asides you’d share with close friends, or your off-the-cuff remark may end up being your only presence in the story.

    Finally, do a practice interview with someone who’s been on TV. Nothing replaces experience and preparation.

    Although it may seem like a lot of work, preparing is absolutely necessary. If you’re prepared, your interview will go better, you’ll feel better and you’ll have fun.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Giving a Good TV Interview, Part One: Your Appearance

    Friday, February 26, 2016, 11:58 AM [General]
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    Anyone who’s been interviewed on TV knows it takes work to make it look easy.  A company spokesperson, for example, always has to be prepared, always has to know what to say, what to wear, what not to do, etc. But if you’ve never been interviewed and have a producer knocking on your door for the first time, what do you do?

    This is the first part of several installments having to do with guiding you through the process. Today we’ll focus on your appearance. Before you open your mouth, you’re already on camera -- you’re making an impression without saying a word. You’re seen before you’re heard. In future installments, we’ll cover things like how to make sure you get your talking points across, what you should (and shouldn’t!) say when being interviewed, and more. 

    TJ Walker is the president of Media Training Worldwide and has trained presidents of countries, prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize winners, Miss Universes and CEOs for more than 30 years. He is also the author/producer of more than 100 online media training courses and books. TJ shares some very important points:

    Style: Figure out your message and decide on a style that communicates that message. One reason left-wing bestselling writer and moviemaker Michael Moore is successful is that his image is totally consistent with his message. He always wears a baseball cap and an old T-shirt and jeans, and he always has 3-5 days’ worth of stubble on his face. To convey his “everyman” message, Moore has fashioned the perfect style.

    Clothing: Button your jackets! Having your jacket open and your tie exposed works best when you have no form or fit flaws. If you have an extra inch or two around your waist, it will be exposed with an open jacket but concealed with a buttoned coat (provided you’re not straining the buttons on your jacket). Buttoning a jacket also helps if you’re having problems with your tie and will conceal more of your light-colored shirt while showing more of your dark jacket. This helps direct the viewers’ attention to your face, which is where you want it. If in doubt, button your coat. Also, don’t wear anything distracting, or people will focus on the garment and not remember what you said.

    Wear makeup. This applies to men too. If you want to look like you, you need it. Imperfections will fade. The lights in the studio and on top of the camera will distort your features. What looks like a close shave in person will look like a five o’clock shadow on TV. Clear, normal skin will look splotchy, waxy and plastic. The heat of the lights will make you sweat, even if you don’t normally perspire. Without makeup, your face will look shiny and oily. You may also sweat more because you’re nervous. All you really need is some basic powder makeup. Pick one that matches your skin color exactly. If you get the wrong color, it will contrast starkly, making you look silly. TJ also advises to not depend on others for your makeup. You may give an interview at a small station but they may have a great makeup staff, and then you go to a network and no one will be around. It happens, so you have to bring your own. That way you can just take out the compact and apply it yourself.

    Smile. Don’t have an expressionless look on your face. While that’s fine in person, on TV it comes across as a frown. A slight smile will make you look more comfortable, confident and relaxed. Keep the slight smile whenever you are in front of a TV camera. It won’t look as if you’re smiling to the people who are watching you, but don’t do a Cheshire Cat grin, either. Just show a few teeth and raise your cheeks slightly.

    TJ suggests avoiding a few things when smiling: Don’t lick your lips (it looks lascivious). Don’t stick your tongue out or you’ll look like a snake. And don’t bite your lips, as it makes you look nervous. If you can’t remember these do’s and don’ts, just remember to keep a slight smile. That will cover up most other potential problems.

    Move your head. It’s natural to move your head when you talk. If you don’t, you’ll look nervous and frozen. Moving your head isn’t something you have to learn. Everyone moves their head. Turn the TV on mute. Does anyone talk with a frozen head? A novice may look frozen, since they’re nervous and trying to spew out a script they’ve memorized, so they stop moving.

    TJ offers some points: Don’t make jerking movements, since they’re distracting. Also, shake or nod your head when appropriate. Head motion, especially a nod of disagreement, can get the attention of TV directors and producers. If, for example, you’re appearing on a news show and another guest is attacking you or saying something with which you strongly agree, you may want to shake your head in disagreement. The director may go to a split screen and show your adversary making comments while showing you shaking your head. The result would be that the audience is less inclined to believe what your opponent is saying because your body language is suggesting it’s not true. However, be careful not to overuse this or you could be perceived as being rude.

    Look forward. You will look leaner. Hold yourself up high and lean forward about 15 degrees. This will make you appear taller, thinner, younger and leaner and accentuate your jaw line. The camera latches on to whatever is closest, so it will now give more prominence to your head and mouth and less to any excess padding you may have. Don’t remain stiff. You don’t want to move around in a quick, jerky fashion, but you do want to exhibit subtle, natural movement.

    Move your hands. Confident people always speak while gesturing with their hands. Nervous people rarely move them. If you want to appear to be confident and comfortable, move your hands. When you stop moving your hands, your body also moves less, creating a more boring visual experience for your audience. The fundamental reason you should move your hands when you speak is that this is what you do the rest of the time when you speak naturally. Most people are hardwired to speak with their hands every time they open their mouths. “Forget” about your hands and use them the way you normally do.

    TV is visual. Your message won’t be heard if you don’t have your own personal, visual presentation ready. For more tips, visit Media Training Worldwide. www.mediatrainingworldwide.com.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Journalist Spotlight: Katie Bo Williams, The Hill

    Friday, February 19, 2016, 2:41 PM [Spotlight]
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    Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you.

    Katie Bo Williams is a staff writer at The Hill covering cybersecurity policy.

    A graduate of the University of Virginia, her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Discover, Nautilus and others. 

    We hope you find Alex's SPOTLIGHT enjoyable and informative. 

    Where was your first professional job in journalism?

    I covered horse racing at a daily called The Saratoga Special. It's a small team that tells the kind of Damon Runyon-style stories that make up a lot of great sports writing. I still miss doing the boots-on-the-ground feature work I got to do there — and I had a once-in-a-lifetime editor that taught me to pay attention and trust my own voice. 

    For many years you worked in the thoroughbred racing industry. What was that like and how did you make the switch to becoming a journalist?

    Unreal is probably the best shorthand. Racing is an exciting business, full of interesting characters and stories. I spent four years living out of a suitcase, working with horses in barns all over the world. You can't beat watching the sun rise over the Hunter Valley in Australia, drinking a bad cup of instant coffee and turning out a bunch of young horses to stretch their legs. 

    But as always when you are working with a living animal, there are incredible highs and lows. Horses will break your heart — they lose races, they get hurt, they bite. It's why people cry when they play "My Old Kentucky Home" over the loud speakers at the Derby every year — because to get there is such a fragile dream. 

    I loved the animal and I loved the game, but I think I fell in love as a writer, not a sportsman. I was in it for the stories and when I felt I had told my share, I hung up my tack. I was lucky enough to snag an internship with Nautilus and went to starve in New York City (as you do). My first story for them was about a genetic test used to determine whether a racehorse will be a sprinter or a stayer.   

    And I can still give you a good tip for Keeneland if you need one.

    What type of stories do you focus on the most?

    My current beat is the politics of cybersecurity, although I've also written about criminal justice, gun legislation and health care. 

    From a personal perspective, I'm particularly interested in the big, unanswered questions. Cyber is still an incredibly unsettled theater, from a geopolitical standpoint. We don't know what constitutes an act of war. What are the rules of engagement? And a lot of lawmakers are still scrambling to educate themselves. 

    My daily bread-and-butter is making cybersecurity policy accessible to a general audience. If it doesn't have a Capitol Hill angle, I'm usually going to pass. 

    Are your stories assigned or do you pitch story ideas?

    I pitch my own ideas.

    Is there something you like best about being a journalist?

    I'm not the first journo to say this and I won't be the last, but I like being paid to learn. I want to know everything. More specifically, I like the "zone" you go into when you're structuring a story — putting the building blocks together in a way that helps a reader understand a complex topic is an exercise where I can lose my sense of time. 

    What advice to do you have for those in PR or anyone else who may want to pitch you a story idea?

    Know my publication! Nothing bugs me more than getting a pitch that doesn't have anything to do with politics or policy — it says to me that you haven't even looked at TheHill.com. So, for example, product pitches or "how your organization can avoid being hit by malware" are almost never a good fit for me. 

    What should they always do and never do?

    Don't offer me unnamed sources — I'm usually on a tight deadline and am hesitant to agree to "Do you want me to connect you with a source that can talk about this?" I want to know who he or she is before I commit time. I also pretty much immediately delete offers of "cybersecurity experts." It's too vague and suggests to me that you don't know what I'm looking for. I say yes to "threat researcher who specializes in ransomware," for example. 

    Always: Know the news cycle! I often mine source offers I get when I'm working on a story on a tight deadline — if you know what story broke that morning in the security world and pitch me a relevant source, that's a resource I advantage of. 

    Think like a journalist. When I'm looking for sources, I'm looking for someone to answer unanswered questions. The more tailored the pitch — "This guy can talk about x, y and z" — the more likely I am to talk to your source. 

    Further to that point, be aware of where your client fits into the larger narrative of a given news story. For example, does he or she have a vested interest in supporting one side of a debate or the other? Here's a really simple example: The CEO of a company that makes an encryption software offering expert commentary on the encryption debate. It doesn't mean I never talk to those people, but it can help you introduce a source to me in a way that's useful: "This guy can talk to you about why cryptologists believe back doors are so bad," for example. 

    How can someone in PR/marketing approach you in order to develop some sort of work relationship?

    Coffee, coffee, coffee! Always best to meet someone in person. 

    What advice do you have for members who respond to ProfNet queries?

    Keep it short and sweet! When I put out a request, I get dozens of emails. I try to reply one way or another to as many as I can, but the shorter they are the more likely I am to be able to read and answer. 

    What type of experts do you prefer?

    "Formers." As in, people with government, law enforcement, and legislative experience. Since my bread-and-butter is Congress and the administration, that understanding is usually the lynchpin of my stories. 

    Do you use social media and what is the best thing about it?

    Twitter. It tips me off to angles, questions, problems that I might not have seen about a particular story. It's like having a 24/7 focus group I can tap.

    Can you tell us about one of the most memorable moments you’ve had in your career?

    Seeing a story with my byline on it lead the front page of The Atlantic was pretty damn cool. I spent an hour and a half on the phone with a bounty hunter for the story, and it's one of my favorite things I've ever written. 

    What advice do you have for new journalists and even for those who aren’t so new to the field?

    In my first months working for a daily, I was laboring over an 800-word story, tweaking every word, moving grafs, rewriting my lede 50 times. My editor told me to stop. "Just write it as well as you can in the time you have, then write the next one. It will be better. Then write the next one. It will be better." 

    It has always served me well in a daily environment. Don't get sloppy, but don't kill yourself on a single story, just keep writing. Produce a volume of content. Each one will be better than the last.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Pitching to Social Good and CSR Media

    Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 4:13 AM [General]
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    The Publicity Club of New York held their first panel luncheon of 2016, featuring some of the most prominent journalists who cover social good and CSR.

    A special thank you goes to Peter Himler, president of the Publicity Club of New York, who hosts each event and always brings out the best in each journalist.

    This panel consisted of:

    Here are a few highlights from the discussion:

    Stacy Palmer, The Chronicle of Philanthropy

    The magazine targets an American audience of nonprofit CEOs and those in a decision-making capacity in the industry.

    "It’s important to us that we influence the journalism about the nonprofit world," said Palmer.

    The print version of the magazine comes out 12 times per year, with additional articles on their website.

    For the online edition, they look for how-to's, breaking news, trends. For the print version, they look for examples of what's working and making a difference, what's innovative, big ideas in nonprofit world, ways to improve fundraising and volunteerism.

    They also produce a daily email newsletter, Philanthropy Today, which Palmer says is the best way to keep on top of what is being covered.

    When pitching, don’t pitch same story to everyone. If you do pitch to more than one person at the publication, let them know you've pitched to someone else.

    For more on what makes a good pitch for Palmer, check out this short video:

    Palmer can be reached at stacy.palmer@philanthropy.com

    Matt Petronzio, Mashable

    Petronzio looks to highlight stories that are empowering, or stories of people looking to change the world.

    Readers are savvy. They know what they want and they know they want to change the world. They want to provide tangible steps to make change.

    A lot of coverage is focused on social impact, activism, philanthropy and innovation. They also focus on social justice, social enterprise, and global health.

    Petronzio said he's looking to cover stories about racial justice, disability rights, indigenous rights, the environment, climate justice, and LGBTQ issues.

    Also, video is huge at Mashable, and the audience is increasingly visual, so keep that in mind when pitching. They use Periscope and Snapchat Discover.

    Tip: When pitching, get your key points in the subject line.

    Check out this short video to hear from Petronzio himself on what he's looking for in pitches:

    You can reach Petronzio by email at mpetronzio@mashable.com

    Morgan Clendaniel, Fast Company's Co.Exist

    Co.Exist is Fast Company's website focusing on world-changing ideas and innovation. The site launched in 2011 and has a technology and business focus.

    Clendaniel said they like to cover startups, especially if they make a difference. They also focus on the environment, climate change and social inequality, and are looking to cover scientific and technological solutions to scarcity problems.

    You can reach Clendaniel at mclendaniel@fastcompany.com

    Alex Kaufman, Huffington Post

    Kaufman said that only a small amount of time goes to contributor content. His focus is on writing original stories and overseeing the team of editors and reporters who do that.

    Kaufman is interested in stories on sustainability and climate change. He's looking for ways the private sector is coming up with solutions for reducing their own carbon footprint, as well as stories about purposeful work -- what’s driving a company? He's also looking for innovations in workplace wellness.

    According to Kaufman, the big five topics that need to be addressed are addiction, climate change, extremism, inequality and race.

    To have an ongoing relationship, check in and recommend people you may have that have knowledge on a topic. Be useful to the reporter.

    Here are some more pitching tips from Kaufman himself: 

    Email Kaufman at business@huffingtonpost.com

    Rebecca Eisenberg, Upworthy

    Eisenberg is one of the founding editorial voices of Upworthy. The site has 8.7 million likes on Facebook and highlights companies and small businesses that do good things.

    "Everything we do is about making the world a better place," she said. Their goal is to build awareness on stories that matter and tell them in a way that makes people care about those issues.

    PR reps can pitch stories but will get forwarded to the collaborations team.

    Upworthy doesn't t do native advertising as much as sponsored partnerships with companies and clients that are aligned with their mission and help them find ways to tell stories in ways that connect with the audience. If your goal is to just raise awareness and you’re not going to shift any dollars to actually making a change, it raises a red flag, said Eisenberg.

    Their video team just launched and is testing 10 pilots, all original videos in a Netflix-type model. The editorial and video teams do collaborate with each other.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Skills Journalism Students Need to Learn

    Thursday, February 11, 2016, 2:29 PM [#ConnectChat]
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    On Tuesday, Feb. 9, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Skills Journalism Students Need to Learn," with our guest Kelley Callaway, president of the College Media Association and director of student publications at Rice University.

    Kelley discussed the importance of knowing social media, what media outlets are looking for in job candidates, professional newsrooms compared to student media and a lot of other topics student journalists need to learn.

    In this recap we've also included tweets from #ConnectChat participants who gave helpful information.

    Please follow @ProfNet and @ProfNetMedia on Twitter for more information on future chats or check back right here on ProfNet Connect for details.

    What are the biggest misconceptions students have about working in a professional newsroom?

    The amount of work involved. Working on multiple projects at a time. Importance of actually meeting deadlines.

    Do many think the real world is like a college newsroom?

    I hope they don't! I think most college journalists expect the professional world to be harder than college.

    @comminternships: Journalism is definitely a complex skills set that requires hands-on practice to master. You can’t learn it from a book.

    Besides professional skills, what about actual interviewing skills for when they’re looking for a job?

    Students need to learn how to talk positively about themselves when they are being interviewed. They also need to do a lot of research about the company they are hoping to work for. They also need to be able to articulate their vision and how they think they can achieve that vision while contributing.

    @chuckmoran7: For journalism students, I recommend finding a good mentor too. Find someone who can help guide you as you enter a newsroom.

    @dailysuitcase: Key for interviews--ask questions. Even though employer is interviewing you, don't make it all about you. Be engaged and ask away.

    What’s the reality with regards to workload in a professional newsroom?

    There’s definitely more work in the professional world, but you don’t have class anymore! So learn to multitask in college.

    @comminternships: Newsrooms across the board are evolving at a rapid rate. Your skills set must be more diverse than ever to stand out.

    Are all students expected to be well-versed in social media?

    Oh, heck, yeah! Not only should they be well-versed, they should be able to predict the next big thing. Employers look to students and recent grads for technical know-how, social media savvy. Employers want young people to have fresh ideas and out-of-the-box thinking so students have to develop these skills.

    Should students have social media accounts and is basic knowledge enough these days?

    Yes, but they need to manage them well. Avoid politics, etc. Realize they brand themselves through social media. They need to manage multiple accounts. Not just the most popular. Learn how to tell stories through Snapchat, brand their pub through Instagram. Go beyond the obvious. Yes! The more they know, the more marketable they are!

    @comminternships: Social media skills are vital. Not just current platforms, but students need to be able to identify the next big thing. Students should understand SEO, tagging, Ad Words, analytics, pretty much all web metrics.

    @chuckmoran7: Twitter for example is a good tool to follow sources and engage readers.

    Some of our guests have mentioned writing and grammar skills. If these skills aren't as strong as they should be can they still get a job in a newsroom?

    @comminternships: Skills numbers one and two: Excellent written and oral communications skills, which means impeccable grammar skills.

    @chuckmoran7: Important skills -- highly recommend listening skills and research skills for those just getting started.

    They can in college, but it's going to be much harder in the professional world. As professional newsrooms shrink and pros are asked to do more with less, new professionals need to be prepared from day one.

    What other things should students be proficient in as they start looking for their first job? What do future employers want to see?

    Employers want to see applicants that have stepped outside their comfort zones. They need to do a little bit of everything. Writers need to shoot video. Broadcasters need to write. Need to understand the business side. Need to understand marketing.

    @comminternships: Employers want tech skills, yes, but you must still be able to tell a compelling story. That's a top skill many students lack.

    @chuckmoran7: Outside of skills they need to be open to moving to get that first job & probably not be paid as much as they'd like.

    @dailysuitcase: They should also know how to do original reporting...and not just tracking things down on the Internet.

    We know from reports like Poynter’s “Core Skills for the Future of Journalism" that there’s a gap between what media professionals and college professors think are the most important journalism skills for students to learn. I’m interested in hearing from folks about how they respond to students who reject feedback from either party (pros or faculty), claiming one or the other is “right," and who we might try to reconcile the differences.

    We need to expose students to different viewpoints. Both sides are right. There is great value in learning the basics and traditions of good journalism. And students need to be aware of what employers are looking for. But they also need to love media for media’s sake. Not just a grade or a paycheck.

    Can you tell us about the College Media Convention in New York? When is it? 

    It's a great place to learn or hone all the skills we've been talking about. It's March 12-15, and it's fabulous. 200 sessions. One Day Innovation Challenge. Film Festival. On-site contests and critiques.

    Who should attend?

    Everyone! Especially the future leaders of student media outlets. It’s a great place to get energized for the next school year.

    How can you register for the conference?

    You can register for the spring convention in New York at ow.ly/Y8CYZ

    CMA is all about serving advisers and their students. We also offer summer training.


    Do internships really offer the best view of reality or is there another way journalism students can see what the real world is like?

    If a student wants to pursue media professionally, they really need to work for collegiate media. They need to learn more than what is taught in a classroom. Journalism is about doing it. Internships are an excellent step in exposure, but it all depends on the media and the people overseeing the internship. Internships allow students to make contacts and get a taste of professional experience. Student media gives them ownership and a chance to try new things (and fail in a relatively safe environment).

    @chuckmoran7: Internships, yes where available. Part-time and stringer work also helps build experience. Students need to think mobile in learning how to be a journalist.

    With video being a huge part of all outlets, should students learn how to edit video and know about editing programs?

    Absolutely! Students need to at least be able to shoot and edit a simple video. The more skills they acquire, the better. Verify sources. Question everything. Try to talk to folks in person.

    What about digital newsgathering?

    Students need to learn how to gather news in every fashion possible. And the same care needs to go into that.

    Is knowledge of the political system and of the various agencies (local, state, etc.) necessary?

    They need to do learn those same things in the professional world. Attend meetings. Read the laws. Talk to the lawmakers.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Upcoming #ConnectChat: Skills Journalism Students Need to Learn

    Thursday, February 4, 2016, 2:33 PM [#ConnectChat]
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    Our next #ConnectChat, "Skills Journalism Students Need to Learn,” will feature Kelley Callaway, president of the College Media Association. Kelley's been involved in the organization since her graduate school days and used to attend conventions as an undergraduate. She is director of student publications at Rice University in Houston, where she advises The Rice Thresher newspaper and The Campanile yearbook. 

    Kelley will discuss what journalism students can expect once they start working in professional newsrooms, what they need to learn before they get there, the differences between working in college media and other news organizations and much more.

    The chat will take place Tuesday, Feb. 9 from 3 to 4 p.m. EST.

    To submit questions for Kelley in advance, please email profnetconnect@prnewswire.com or tweet your question to @ProfNet or @ProfNetMedia. 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.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Media 411: The Dreaded Correction

    Friday, January 29, 2016, 4:54 PM [Media 411]
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    No other word strikes fear in the heart of journalists like the word “CORRECTION.” Ooh, I just got the chills! We all do our best to get the facts straight, but sometimes we make mistakes. We’re human, right? But how can we avoid making errors and avoid that dreadful fix with which no one wants to be associated?

    Read on and click on these stories which will provide some insight on this important topic for any journalist:

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    Journalist Spotlight: Alex Kasprak, BuzzFeed

    Monday, January 25, 2016, 2:44 PM [Spotlight]
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    Welcome to our SPOTLIGHT feature, where we highlight a journalist and ProfNet user to share their personal story and insight with you.

    Alex Kasprak is a science writer with experience as both a scientist and as a science communicator. Before turning to writing, he studied fossilized chemicals in ancient rocks in an effort to shed light on dramatic periods of environmental change during mass extinction events.

    As a writer, Kasprak has focused on science communication and outreach over traditional journalism. He has written features for NASA’s Visualization Explorer and worked for two years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as the primary writer and content producer behind three of NASA’s websites geared toward elementary and middle school-aged kids.

    Now at BuzzFeed, Kasprak has written hundreds of science stories on topics that range from the realities of human courtship, near-death astronaut experiences in space, flatulence, dinosaurs, booze, marijuana and, obviously, animals. He firmly believes that Pluto should not be a planet.

    We hope you find Alex's SPOTLIGHT enjoyable and informative. 

    Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist or did you have another plan?

    Being a journalist wasn’t really on my radar when I was going through high school and college. Pretty early on as an undergrad at Skidmore College, I decided that I really liked geology and that I would love it if I could teach it someday at a small college like Skidmore. I finished all the coursework and internships needed to get into grad school and was ultimately accepted into a PhD program in geology at Brown University. Academia ended up not being for me, so I took my master's degree and left. In a panic, I looked into other jobs that people with a science background and writing skills could do.  I Googled “science” and “writing” and learned that “science writing” is totally a thing. I applied to one-year science writing program at Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a fellowship to attend. Ever since then I have been writing about science for a living.

    Where was your first job in journalism?

    My first unpaid gig was an externship with Earth magazine where I pitched and wrote earth science stories while working on my program at JHU. I also got my first paid gig during that program, as a weekly writer for the NASA Visualization Explorer app.

    What type of stories do you focus on at BuzzFeed?

    I generally cover shorter, lighter science stories or produce sort of “best of” lists of science facts and other science culture stuff for BuzzFeed. I typically don’t cover a single scientific study or breaking science story but focus instead on collections of science stories and facts about a specific topic or theme. Creepy animals, weird phenomena, outlandish ideas about humanity, evolution, consciousness, and stories with a strong visual component are always popular. I don’t have a specific beat per se, but I spend a lot of time writing about space, astronauts, and fossils.

    Do you pitch story ideas or are they assigned most of the time?

    I pitch almost all of my stories myself. BuzzFeed gives us a great deal of freedom in that regard.

    What do you like most about your role at BuzzFeed and is it as fun to work there as it seems? 

    I like that BuzzFeed allows me to experiment with bringing more science to their pretty considerable audience. Not only do I get a great deal of freedom on the topics I choose, but also I have the freedom to figure out new and creative ways to convey information or tell a story in a new way. I also have more of an opportunity to inject weird humor into my posts in ways that other outlets might avoid, which is always a hoot.

    BuzzFeed is probably is as fun as it looks. Though we don’t have a full-time kitten room for our pitch meetings and we have only a handful dogs in our office at any given time, I am always surrounded by a ton of cool and brilliant people whose interests are all over the place. Everyday is both challenging and fun. Also, one has to imagine that from a probability standpoint, the likelihood of there being a kitten room at BuzzFeed on any given day is probably orders of magnitude higher than most other offices.

    What’s your advice for those in PR or anyone else who may want to pitch you?

    People pitching stories to me should be familiar with the TYPE of stories that BuzzFeed Science writes — we rarely do single study findings, and most of our stories try to evoke some sort of human emotional response outside of simply “gee wizz, that’s cool.” Also, I will also always reject any pitch that is clearly just an effort to get me to advertise something corporate. That is not my job, and there is a whole other division of BuzzFeed for advertisers anyway.

    What should they always do?

    A strong pitch to me would involve not only an idea, but also why people on the internet would want to share it with a friend when they are done reading it.

    Never do?

    Pitch products or corporate campaigns. They should also avoid writing an entire post for me and ask me for my thoughts on it. It’s not a super efficient way of doing things, and BuzzFeed actually has a place for community members to write stories for the site directly.

    How can someone in PR/marketing approach you in order to develop some sort of work relationship?

    Shoot me an email! Let me know what you have to offer and I can let you know what kinds of pitches are most likely to work on my end.

    What advice do you have for members who respond to ProfNet queries?

    For me, I can never have too much information about why a given expert is indeed an expert in his or her field. It also helps to see that the expert is good with interviews and, best case scenario, has as good sense of humor as well.

    What type of experts do you prefer?

    My favorite experts are people who research quirky, specific, and esoteric things but who can also make those weird things appeal to a broader audience. One of my favorite interviews from ProfNet was with a professor of mechanical engineering who had an incredibly detailed knowledge of Star Wars and a very creative way of relating his expertise to that genre. He helped me write a post answering absurd science questions about the Star Wars universe.

    How do you use social media and what is the best thing about it?

    I use it both to promote my own work as well as keep a pulse on what’s happening in science journalism and with the world in general. The latter is my favorite part about social media.

    Can you tell us about one of the most memorable moments you’ve had covering a story?

    Without question it was working on a series of stories about retired astronauts. I got to speak with a number of insanely qualified and absurdly brave astronauts and have them tell me all kinds of crazy stuff about almost dying in space, about how gross some aspects of astronaut life were, and different mistakes that can happen, both big and small, while on missions. These were things that they probably couldn’t have said while still employed as astronauts. I could listen to those men and women for hours and not get bored.

    What advice do you have for new journalists and even for those who aren’t so new to the field?

    I think it’s important to be passionate not just about your own success, but also about some topic that you can really make your own. I got into science writing from science, so I already had a strong interest in fossils and evolution. I think building those specific interests and areas of expertise helps a great deal.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

    PR 411: Want National Coverage? Pitch Local!

    Thursday, January 21, 2016, 4:21 PM [Media 411]
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    Do you struggle to get your clients on national news outlets? Don’t forget your local/smaller news outlets! With many large media outlets scouring local newspapers for story ideas, what might seem like a small opportunity might actually be your ticket to the big leagues.

    Colleen Pizarev, a retired PR executive (with PR Newswire, no less!), can attest to this.

    Colleen’s cat Spock is a 46-inch, 27-pound Maine Coon who is just 2-1/2 inches smaller than the longest domestic cat on record. Spock loves to watch what’s going on in the outside world, and you can usually find him sitting by the front window of Colleen’s San Jose, Calif., home. 

    Unfortunately for Colleen, neighbors and passersby routinely mistook Spock for a wild animal. Some of them even knocked on her door to express concern that there was a lynx being housed in the neighborhood. 

    After the article ran in the local paper, the San Jose Mercury News then picked up the story, and it spread like wildfire from there.

    “The local ABC affiliate read the story, then called and said they’d be here in 20 minutes,” said Colleen. After that, it was a massive barrage of media requests from outlets in the U.S. and abroad.

    “I never pitched this,” said Colleen. “I did the interview with the weekly paper because I was tired of people knocking on my door. I had no idea that a free, local paper with a story on page six would get out of control.”

    In her former role, Colleen worked with international clients, advising them on how to get their stories in front of the media and get the coverage they needed. The irony that she built a career helping clients get coverage from the same outlets that were now reaching out to her is not lost on her.

    “When it happens to you, you freeze a little bit. It’s different when you’re in the middle of it, especially when you’re a private person,” says Colleen. “Had this happened to a client, I’d be thrilled. The PR person in me is thinking it’s very funny. You really don’t know what it’s like for your clients until you go through it yourself. I think every PR person should go through this to get a taste.”

    Spock’s story catapulted from a local story to an international story very quickly. Before Colleen knew it, the story was on “Good Morning America,” CNN, The Huffington Post, The Daily Mail and many others. Spock’s Facebook page went from 100 likes to 800 likes in minutes, and then to 2,000 in five days. Today, the page has more than 6,500 likes.

    “A small paper turned international,” said Colleen. “It says a lot about how the Internet is voraciously consuming news.”

    Going forward, Colleen said she will tell clients to do things differently.

    “I will prep them for the possibility this could grow beyond their control,” she said. “Things will be said that are exaggerated and taken out of context, and I’ll give them my own example.”

    Colleen was able to shut down the media frenzy within six days. The way she did it was by giving interviews to major media and was very careful to control the story. "I wasn't afraid to demand the corrections or to insist the inaccuracies included elsewhere were not included in their story. I was careful to only allow photos that I supplied, but some outlets took whatever they could find from the Spock Facebook page and one outlet actually published pictures of a different cat. That was fun trying to get that one corrected," she says, sarcastically.

    She adds, "Once the outlets I decided to allow to run stories had finished, I stopped giving interviews and stopped allowing minor outlets to take photos from the page telling them this story has reached its end. By the end of Tuesday, the story arc completed and I was thrilled to get back to my regularly scheduled life."

    Colleen, who is also an artist, jokes, “I really did try to quit the biz, but it won’t let me quit.”

    Maybe now the only arcs she’ll need to focus on are the rainbows she paints on her canvas.

    Colleen writes about her adventures with retirement and media attention at www.retireddiva.com.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. Send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents to find an expert you can quote on virtually any topic. The best part? It’s free! Start your search now: Send a query

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