Evelyn Tipacti

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    • Title:Community Editor
    • Organization:ProfNet Connect (PR Newswire)
    • Area of Expertise:Media Relations, Hispanic Media
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    Media 411: Have a Plan B

    Thursday, May 29, 2014, 10:36 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Going to work is something most of us should look forward to in the morning. Eventually, however, there comes a time when we all reach our breaking point and know it’s time to either move on or make a huge change (if it’s not forced on us).

    If you work in journalism, you’re aware of the long and awkward hours, the pay, the stress, etc. Shall I continue? It’s truly a calling, and if you’re lucky, you get to build a career and make a decent living. For the vast majority, it’s an up-and-down field, a love/hate relationship even when it’s fulfilling. This is not to say that all journalists are miserable -- of course not. There are many who are very happy doing what they do.

    The reality, however, is that being a journalist today is challenging, but that’s obvious to us. There are many reasons for leaving journalism. For some it’s the fear of the unknown and the instability; for others, it’s the pay, or the lack of opportunities at other media outlets, or getting a better position where they are. Many other reasons exist, but those seem to be the ones that dominate when I speak to people who’ve left the business.

    Journalists often make the switch to what is usually called the “dark” side and go to PR or become company spokespeople or freelance writers and authors. Then there are those that go back to school and start all over in a different field.

    I’ve mentioned this in previous columns, but I’ll reiterate. I’m a former broadcast journalist who left to work in media relations (not the same as PR in my case) and I haven’t looked back. Not to say I don’t miss it (I do) or that I won’t give it another try in some capacity, but I feel equally as fulfilled. I like what I do, my colleagues and the hours.

    Making a change is a scary thing and not something you can decide overnight. It takes some serious thinking and soul searching, but trust your instincts. Even if your situation is forced, turn it into a positive, although at the time it may be tough to see. It will be challenging, yes, but always have a plan. No journalist should think their role will remain the samel, but I would say that for most fields, anyway. It’s always good to have a plan ‘B.’

    Media 411: Journalists Using Instagram

    Thursday, May 22, 2014, 1:27 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Journalism and social media go hand in hand these days and it’s now the norm for journalists to have both Facebook and Twitter accounts or at least use one of the two.

    Instagram is becoming more popular as well, but journalists are still trying to figure out how to use it.

    Below are some links to helpful articles that discuss how Instagram can be used as part of your job and help you decide whether or not it’s suitable for you.

    7 Ways News Outlets Can Use Instagram via journalism.co.uk

    How to Use Instagram in a Genius Way (and Grow Your Audience) via Ann Handley

    How Instagram Could Change Journalism via Newszou

    Instagram Becoming Major Part of Reporter’s Toolkit via The EIJ News

    Should News Organizations Publish Instagram Photos? via American Journalism Review

    If you already use Instagram, what advice do you have and is it working for you?

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    SPOTLIGHT: Leslie Gray Streeter, The Palm Beach Post

    Thursday, May 15, 2014, 11:21 AM [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.

    This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Leslie Gray Streeter, an entertainment reporter, blogger and columnist for the Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Fl. where she has worked since 2002.

    A native of Baltimore, Maryland and a graduate of the University of Maryland, Leslie began her career at the Miami Times, a weekly serving the black community in that city, then worked for eight years at the York Dispatch/Sunday News in York, Pennsylvania.

    She has spent most of her career as a features writer, specializing in entertainment including movies, television, music, celebrity and pop culture. Leslie is married to Scott Zervitz, a tech sales manager and fellow Baltimorean and Ravens fan.

    Have you always wanted to be an entertainment journalist or did it happen by chance?

    I have wanted to be an entertainment reporter since before there was really a name for it – there were movie critics, and rock critics, and art critics, and most newspapers had one of each of those and more, when there was money for separate ones of all those things. My first story ever for my high school newspaper in Baltimore was a review of “Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins,” which I was probably too kind too. But the experience was exhilarating, like “I saw a movie, wrote about it and people want to see that?” I was intrigued. And in college, even when told by professors that I was being silly and fluffy, I knew how important those experiences are to life – maybe not as much as fires and taxes, but important. I’m thrilled that’s mostly what I’ve done for the last 21 years.

    Your first job was at the Miami Times -- did you cover entertainment there as well? Was it a tough choice to move to Florida from Maryland?

    I’d moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Maryland in 1993, during a recession. We were the Gen-Z “slackers” who moved home with no jobs to go with their degrees. “Home” was actually, for me, a rotating proposition, as my parents, who’d raised us in Baltimore with two years in Saudi Arabia in between, moved to Cincinnati my junior year and then to Miami right before I graduated. My twin and I were like “We don’t have jobs. We’ll just move with you!” and my parents weren’t really sure we were serious until we cashed in our graduation gift checks for train tickets. My dad let us sit by the pool for two weeks and then handed us the Miami Herald wants ads. A week later I was selling bad fake grunge clothes to teenagers, which I continued for a month even after I got hired full-time at the Miami Times, since the nice manager hired me with no retail experience. And that was because I had a degree and she thought that meant I’d be responsible, so I guess I owed her.

    I wrote everything for the Times, from community news to man on the street interviews, to a column that started when I rode the bus to work every day and wrote about an outsider’s take on this very specific community, up close and personal. I did start doing entertainment as well – I knew that’s what I wanted to do eventually and took every opportunity. But being a jack of all trades was so instructive to the rest of my career, because I approach entertainment journalism like a reporter first, and not like whatever it is they do on TMZ.

    What type of  stories do you really enjoy covering?

    I love fun, funny column fodder and interesting profiles the best, whether they’re on weird local people or long interviews with entertainers I admire. I spent an hour on the phone with Art Garfunkel recently, and while I’m sure I didn’t get him talking about anything he hadn’t previously talked to a zillion reporters about, it was an achingly vulnerable conversation. He talked about losing his voice and the uncertainty he had about his identity if he had not come back – “Would I still be Art if I couldn’t sing?” I learned something about Art Garfunkel and I shared it with my readers. That meant something to me.

    Do you make suggestions as to what stories you cover or are they assigned most of the time?

    It varies. Some of my stories are calendar or anniversary-driven, so those come to me, and others are things I just really want to write about. I like to think I’ve earned the opportunity to drive that. Of course, there’s the fact of there being less of us than there used to be, so sometimes we have to do things that we wouldn’t do with healthier staff numbers. Price of having a job, you know. It’s still 85 percent what I love to do. I’ll take the 15 percent randomness.

    What advice do you have for PR professionals who want to pitch you?

    Please do a little bit of research into what I cover. Don’t pitch me something that I’ve never written about. I know you have a job to do, but so do I.

    What should they always do and never do?

    Again, give me the courtesy of figuring out if I am the person who would be most likely to write about your pitch, or at least preface it by saying “If this isn’t you, who would it be?” Don’t be over-familiar, but also don’t robot me to death with an obvious chain letter that you’re pretending is personal. And don’t presume coverage, like “We’re gonna need a story.” Well, you need to take out an ad then. Do readers need to read your story? That’s the most important thing to me. And please spell my name right. One more thing – don’t make me chase you down about the date of your event/TV episode premiere. If I have to do the research, that annoys me. I get about 150 unsolicited emails a day. I can’t read them all top to bottom before deciding what to do with them.

    What's the best way for someone in PR to start a working relationship with you?

    Email me first and then call me and say “I’m the person that emailed you!” And then give me a day or so to respond. Be honest about what you are looking for, but not steamroller-y. I had an unsuccessful experience with a woman from a news network that I won’t name, who attempted to dictate every aspect of my story, including the hosts on the show I was writing about, as well as experts (I found my own on Prof-Net!) and the viewers I wanted to talk to. And when the story came out pretty much the way I figured, but with a headline she didn’t like, she called me to berate me into changing it online, screaming at me that we’d worked so closely together, as if she believed she was writing the story and I was just the stenographer. No changes were made. She was pretty awful, and acted as if I’d broken some sacred trust, when I was not writing a press release, but a newspaper story. Whatever she did? Don’t do that.
     
    Do you have advice for members who respond to ProfNet queries? 

    I love, love, love ProfNet because I almost always get what I am looking for, along with a few extraneous responses that I applaud for them just trying, you know? I like when the responses actually pertain to my question, and aren’t just blatant attempts to tie my story to the very specific people the PR professionals represent that obviously have nothing to do with what I’m looking for.

    What type of experts do you prefer to work with?

    My favorites tend to be professors, because they’re usually articulate, funny and very thoughtful. They aren’t out to waste anyone’s time, and the conversations are usually very instructive.

    What is the best part about covering entertainment? Your least favorite?

    My favorite thing is tapping into the passions of my readers, because entertainment is very personal. My least favorite is dealing with people who take it too personally, who yell at you for writing the next day about a show, even in vague terms, because they haven’t watched it yet, or people like the “Big Brother” fan from last year who accused me of having an agenda to embarrass a particularly awful contestant (who happened to be a local) because I was “jealous” and out to hurt her. Dude…I’m 42 with a job and a husband trying to pay my rent. I don’t have time for personal agendas. Also…you know she was awful.

    Do you have a most memorable assignment?

    Oh, gosh. That’s hard. Being an extra on “Law and Order” and sitting behind Sam Waterston’s shoulder? I had a viewing party, and found I’d been left on the cutting room floor except for my red Afro, seen glowing behind his shoulder. Awesome.

    Do you use social media as part of your job?

    Social media has become a very big part of my job – We Tweet nearly every day, I when covering festivals and concerts, for instance, much of my coverage is Twitter and Facebook.

    What's your advice for someone thinking of going into journalism and also for someone who's just starting out in the business?

    Be prepared for change. It’s a completely different business than when I started, in terms of scale, technology and resources. But you have to remember what your job is – to tell the truth. That will sustain you.

    What do you like to do when you're not at the office?

    Since you cover entertainment, are you still able to enjoy a personal outing without relating it to work? It used to be hard to watch a movie, in the days when I was a reviewer, without writing a lede in my head automatically. Same thing with concerts. I have to remember that enjoyment enhances my coverage, but it’s nice when I don’t have to take notes. I love watching crime documentaries, playing Scrabble online, and am attempting to get back to my marathon-running ways.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Media 411: Internet Trolls

    Thursday, May 8, 2014, 2:09 PM [Media 411]
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    Don’t you love those internet trolls who always have something to say? Yeah, didn’t think so and neither do many media organizations.

    Nasty comments are being dealt a blow as more and more lewd and vicious remarks are being left in the comments section after reading an article or blog. Some of the comments are just advertising products which also don’t add anything to the conversation. None of this is really new, however, considering hateful posts have been a part of the commenting process since the whole idea of adding reader comments began.

    The Washington Post reported earlier in the week that The Chicago Sun-Times temporarily shut down its comments sections last month due to out of control, hateful comments. They also reported that Popular Science has not allowed comments since last year.

    Some news organizations have used other methods to keep a comments section open but in a way where rude comments are kept at bay. One way is for readers to sign in with a Facebook account, another is including an “abuse” button where a reader can report a specific comment/reader to a moderator, and one other way is to just shut the comments down when things get out of hand.

    What other strategies can you think of to curb the trolls? Do trolls bother you or do you just ignore them?

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    #ConnectChat Recap: Social Media Marketing for BtoB and BtoC

    Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 3:56 PM [#ConnectChat]
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    On Tuesday, April 29, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Social Media Marketing for BtoB and BtoC" with Amanda Peterson, the corporate communications coordinator at  Petmate.

    Amanda discussed the differences between social media marketing for BtoB and BtoC, preparing strategies, creating messages specific to each social media platform and more.

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

     

     

    Tell us about your role at Petmate.

    Hi, thanks for having me on today! I’m excited to chat about social media for biz with y’all today.

    I’m the Corporate Communications Coordinator so I wear a lot of hats, as most communicators do! Never the same day twice and I love it.  My primary roles are in PR, marketing communications (copywriting, blogging) and managing our social media channels.  I also work with our attorneys on intellectual property (trademarks, patents, copyrights).  Interesting stuff!

    What are the key differences between BtoB and BtoC communication in social media?

    Obviously, the audience. It’s important to understand the needs of each and target your messages with those needs in mind. At Petmate, we focus our B2C messages to educate on our products to help improve their pets’ lives.  For B2B we offer more information about the products and company itself, i.e. our green marketing practices, charity partnerships, etc.  When retailers understand who we are and what we do, they are confident in selling our brands. We are always supportive of our strategic retail partners and their promotions, events and business efforts.

    Is there a social media platform that's more specific to BtoB and BtoC?

    Facebook is the number one platform for B2C in my opinion, but the reach is changing. It’s no longer a “free marketing” tool, so you have to be strategic. By utilizing other platforms, like Instagram and Twitter, you can extend your reach on Facebook by cross-promoting those posts. For B2B, LinkedIn is a great platform for generating buzz about your business within your industry. LinkedIn, in my opinion, acts as a secondary “About Us” page and is especially important for HR professionals! LinkedIn is invaluable for business networking as well.

    How are the audiences different?  

    B2B and B2C audiences are usually very different in how they utilize social media. Our B2B relationships often look to our social channels for ways to help promote their businesses.  B2B relationships often want to extend their reach through our social channels and drive traffic to their stores. Consumers usually come to social channels for a solution to a specific need. They also want to be entertained and share their stories with us! I think consumers also enjoy the community feeling of our social media channels, especially Facebook. They share photos, videos and stories, which strike up conversations with other pet parents on our page! It’s fun to watch it happen. Our pages are places where people connect over their pets’ love of Petmate products! I also see adoption groups use our Facebook page as a way to find homes for pets. They know most people there are animal lovers who can help!

    I have to ask --  you're with a company that caters to pets and pet owners -- is it more difficult to market to this audience since a product is for their pet and not the owner? Does it matter?

    Really, it’s the exact opposite. People are SO passionate about their pets. They are family! While pets themselves may not be tweeting (although I do know a few cats and dogs that have their own handles) we know that pet parents are! Social engagement with pets is second only to human children! There is an emotional connection between pets and their people. Plus, cats are wildly successful sources of social media content. I mean, have you seen #GrumpyCat and her fan base?!

    What are some of the do's and don'ts with both BtoB and BtoC social media communications?

    For B2B, it’s important to support our retail partners. However, it’s crucial to not align more with one over another. Social media can be tricky in both B2B and B2C – you want to promote your company, products and services without sounding too self-serving. That’s why we often let our consumer photos, testimonials and reviews speak for us – it’s invaluable content for a business social strategy. 

    Even with some distinct differences, is it really all that different in terms of overall marketing?

    The ultimate goal is to raise awareness, in my opinion. However, you always want to target your message appropriately.  Your tone and manner may change from one audience to the other – from cross-promoting business to offering solutions.

    Is one more challenging than the other?

    Not if you understand the needs of each audience and develop content accordingly. What’s truly challenging is finding the right balance for both audiences.

    What are some of the networks you use and how do you tailor your message to each one?

    Petmate is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and we have a company blog. We also have Facebook and Twitter channels for our major brands: Chuckit! Dogzilla and JW Pet Company.  For Twitter, it’s all about getting the most bang for your buck – you only have 140 characters! Our Twitter messages are short and sweet and usually tease the reader to click through to read more. Which is why it’s important to include a URL or link to a photo or post elsewhere on Twitter. Use tweets like headlines!  

    On Facebook, we have more room to write and can utilize the visual aspect of photos and video when planning content. We ALWAYS include a photo/video in our Facebook posts. Not only is it more interesting to the reader, it boosts the EdgeRank. By boosting the EdgeRank, more Facebook users will ultimately see the posts. More eyes = more engagement!

    For Instagram – we post photos of pets in our office, pets playing with our toys or sleeping in our beds. The best way to get started on Instagram is to piggyback on popular hashtags, like #dogsofinstagram. Then after you build a following you can create your own hashtags and track the photos shared with it!

    With Pinterest, we pin all of our products on specific boards, either by brand or by category so they are easily searched. When writing descriptions for your pins, it’s important to optimize the content & write as someone would search. We also create boards specifically for re-pinning! If you search for #chuckit on Pinterest you’ll find some really cute photos!

    How important are visuals and how do you use them?

    Like I mentioned before, visuals do double-work for your Facebook posts. They’re crucial for visibility. Did you know Facebook posts with photos are estimated to get more than 50% more likes than posts without? There’s a J-school saying that babies, dogs and nuns will grab attention. Thankfully one of those is relevant to our industry! Photos (either of our products or user-submitted images with our products) always increase the engagement of our posts.

    Would you consider a blog to be a big part of a social media campaign?

    Yes, definitely.  A company blog will help improve your SEO and web presence! Blogging allows you to position your company as a thought-leader in your industry.  Also, having a bloa great way to generate your own social media content! Need a post on cat grooming? Write one! 

    What are some of the reasons why a strategy may not work?

    Not providing the right kind of content to your audience will kill your strategy. If we know 65% of our social audience is dog owners and we only post hamster-related content, it’s not relevant.  Also, if giveaways or contest are involved, be sure to provide clear direction. The simpler, the better!

    What's the best way to prepare a strategy?

    First, know your goal. Is it to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Increase sales?

    Second, do your research and get to know your audience(s). Who are you talking to, really? Then break your content plan into buckets. Promote products, talk about company practices, include user-generated content, etc . A good rule on social content breakdown is the 70-30 split. 70% brand posts, 30% promotional/offers.  Build campaigns into your overall social strategy – blogger campaigns generate good third-party content. Photo contests do too!

    The number one way to gain interest in your posts is to provide a reason to click – enter a contest, learn more, get a coupon, etc. Piggyback on current events and trending topics/hashtags. We love to use #dogsatwork on Instagram and Twitter! People are so interested in what goes on “behind the scenes” here. Yes, pets come to work every day!

    Social media real-time & highly-exposed. Like with traditional PR, be prepared with a social “ER” strategy, just in case! A well-managed page becomes a community for sharing photos and stories. A fun place! A poorly managed page can quickly become a sounding board for negative comments. Be prepared! Every company needs a social media diffusion and escalation policy and plan in place in the event of a crisis. 

    Do you use cross-promotion as part of your strategy?

    Yes!  As I mentioned before, we cross promote across platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but also across brand pages. We currently have four Facebook pages, four  Twitter handles, Instagram and Pinterest. It’s important to follow brand tone and style guidelines for the overall Petmate brand so we’re posting consistent messaging. We develop content considering what works for all, what is brand/channel-specific and leave room for last-minute, hot topic posts. Our social channels are promoted on our website and on the blog as well. We also work with retail and charity partners and our blogger network to cross promote Petmate reviews and important events.

    What are some other general tips you can provide?

    Social media presence is a must-have for businesses. My best tip would be to get started, somewhere. As your audience grows, expand into new channels. Test the water with Instagram and Pinterest, etc. don’t lose sight of what it is – social! It should be fun, engaging, educational and entertaining.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Upcoming #ConnectChat: Social Media Marketing for BtoB and BtoC

    Monday, April 28, 2014, 3:30 PM [#ConnectChat]
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    Our next #ConnectChat, "Social Media Marketing for BtoB and BtoC" will feature Amanda Peterson, (@AmandaPeterson), the corporate communications coordinator for Petmate.

    Amanda will discuss the key differences between social media marketing for BtoB and BtoC, preparing a strategy, tailoring messages to each social media platform and much more.

    The chat will take place Tuesday, April 29 18, from 3 to 4:30 p.m, EDT. To submit questions for Amanda in advance, please email profnetconnect@prnewswire.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 Amanda Peterson

    Amanda Peterson is the Corporate Communications Coordinator for Petmate in Arlington, Texas – her dream job since she has four dogs!

    A native to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication – Journalism from the University of Texas at Arlington.

    Amanda previously worked as a writer for Horse & Rider magazine and as the social media community manager for FedEx Office. Find her on Twitter at @AmandaPeterson or follow Petmate @PetmateProducts.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Journalist Spotlight: Los Angeles Times' Catharine Hamm

    Friday, April 25, 2014, 12:17 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.

    This SPOTLIGHT belongs to Catharine Hamm, travel editor at the Los Angeles Times.

    Hamm has been with the Los Angeles Times Travel section since 1999, serving as travel editor since 2003.

    Her peripatetic career (newspapers in Kansas, Missouri and California) mirrors her peripatetic life: She was born in New York, and by the time she settled in Los Angeles, she’d had 34 addresses, including  Virginia, Hawaii, the Philippines, Kansas (where she earned her B.A. in Spanish) and Spain.

    The Times' Travel section has won the Lowell Thomas Award for best newspaper section five times during her tenure. Her favorite destination? Always the place she’s going next.

    We hope you find SPOTLIGHT both enjoyable and informative.

    Did you always want to be a journalist?

    Yes, I just didn’t know it. I thought I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and work with veterans in helping obtain benefits after their service. But one day I realized that my mother’s side of the family—the Irish side—loves nothing better than telling a story and that I did too.  It took me awhile to figure out that I could take what came naturally and make a living doing it.

    Where was your first job?

    My very first job was sorting Multiple Listing Service cards in a real estate office. I was about 16. My first newspaper job was not in writing but in production. This was some time ago, so newspapers—and this was a six-day-a-week small-town paper—still pasted up pages. I did that for a year.

    Please tell us about what you do at the Los Angeles Times.

    As editor of the Travel section, I select and do a final edit on stories and work on the design and photo processes. For online, I am the editor of the blog. For both print and online, I write a weekly consumer column and occasionally other stories.

    What are your favorite stories to cover?

    Those that make me say, “Wow -- I never thought of that.” Being in travel journalism is like being in school every day. I could have been a perpetual student at an institution of higher education, but instead chose something that allows me to be in a classroom of sorts each day.

    Do you make suggestions as to what stories you cover or are they assigned most of the time?

    Yes, I do make suggestions and assignments. We know our readers (we think) and we generally know what is trending in travel. The trick is to put the two together in a way that interests a million people each Sunday.

    What advice do you have for PR professionals who want to pitch you a story?

    This is difficult for PR people, but this age of email and social media has created an expectation of intimacy, which means knowing us or at least our market. Thus, a customized pitch will go a long way in furthering whatever the cause might be. That means that if the rest of the country is in the grip of the polar vortex, that’s the rest of the country -- that’s not us. When we get “escape the polar vortex” email pitches, they go immediately into the electronic circular file.

    What should they always do and never do?

    Always: Put the geography into the subject line or at least the lead of the pitch. I am amazed at how many pitches I get that say, “Visit XYZ hotel/restaurant/attraction” and expect us to know where XYZ thing is. Often the pitch never says and that is not helpful.

    Never: I appreciate the sentiment of “hope you are well” or “have a great weekend” or “hope your weekend was fantastic,” but please don’t. Please. I’ve heard this from others as well. You don’t know what the person on the receiving end is dealing with and sometimes, you haven’t had a great weekend or you’re not well or your weekend is going to be rot. I think this is a dangerous practice.

    What's the best way for someone in PR to start a working relationship with you?

    PR and media -- online, print, whatever -- must work more as a team. The PR people I work best with are the ones who will lend a hand to me and that is how the relationship usually starts. When I ask a question, for instance, and the answer isn’t one that is available, say so. Don’t just ignore it. The honesty, along with the help, can start a great relationship.

    Do you have advice for members who respond to ProfNet queries?

    I understand that sometimes there is wiggle room in the way a query is written, but there are times when the response to the request is way out in left field. If, for instance, I ask for an expert on tipping etiquette, I am not interested in the latest tipping calculator. That’s not the question.

    The other thing is this: If you say that an expert can be available to me -- and that’s great and exciting -- don’t then come back and say that no, in fact, he or she is out of pocket for the rest of the week and can I do the interview middle of next week? Making sure that someone is available before the deadline is very helpful.

    What type of experts do you prefer to work with? Do you prefer someone in a higher level role or is someone else acceptable?

    I’ll work with anyone who wants to provide informed answers to questions. I’ve had some amazing interviews with experts who just blow me away with their expertise and their willingness to educate me so I can educate my readers. I’ve also had a very few who knew less than I did -- and that’s scary because I usually don’t know much. No expert should ever try to bluff his way through an interview. It’s terribly damaging to his or her reputation and it’s a time waster for both of us.

    What is the toughest part about covering travel?

    Travel journalism in its highest form is a combination of news reporting and consumer reporting. First and foremost, you need facts -- travel reporting isn’t just what we call the “rosy fingers of dawn” -- that is, watching the sun rise over (fill in the blank) place. It’s history, culture, people and world events; it’s the attractions we want to visit and those that are lesser known. Couple that with the consumer aspect of reporting. You are essentially telling people how to spend their time and money so you must become -- very quickly -- an expert.

    It’s an amazing responsibility that sometimes leaves me breathless, even while so grateful to be doing it.

    What has been the most difficult assignment to cover?

    Probably my trip back to the Philippines in 2012. I had lived there as a child. Upon my return more than 45 years later, everything had changed and nothing had changed. I have a great affection for the country and especially its people, but my heart broke when I came face to face with some of the same horrible living conditions that existed in 1966. Many of the same social, economic and political issues continue to hold back this beautiful country. I wanted to weep.

    Do you use social media as part of your job?

    Yes, especially Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

    What's your advice for someone thinking of going into journalism and also for someone who's just starting out in the business?

    Always overreact and always over report. By overreacting, I don’t mean having a meltdown, but when a situation arises, do more than you think you need to do at that moment. You may not need the information at that moment, but you will have it (or the muscle memory) in your hip pocket for a time when you do need it. By over reporting, you will be able to write with confidence and authority, which is not to say arrogance. Plus you get to check facts and points of views with several sources. The key to over reporting, though, is to do just enough of it and to not let it become an obsession because otherwise you’ll never get finished.

    Travel is not just your job but your life! You've lived everywhere!

    There are many places I’ve been lucky to live. The downside: When people ask me where I’m from and their eyes glaze over after about 15 minutes, I know I’ve crossed the TMI (too much info) line.

    Besides traveling, what do you like to do when you're not at the office?

    I love gardens and I love to garden. I love and hate computers and seem to spend an inordinate amount of time making them do things I want them to do. Most of all, I love my family and want to spend as much time with them as I can. Luckily -- or not -- they are spread all over the country, so seeing them means -- what else? -- travel.

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Media 411: Copy Editors: Human vs. Automated?

    Thursday, April 17, 2014, 3:00 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Having a job in journalism these days is not easy as more and more is required for those who report the news and make sure it reaches the masses.

    If you’re a writer, a copy editor is someone you rely on -- that extra set of eyes which inspect and analyze your copy and make it better. It’s the one person who understands what you’re trying to say and helps you say it better than you thought possible.

    What if you no longer had that cushion and instead had to rely on an automated copy editor? What if the role of a copy editor became just a memory and software was the only thing available? I shudder to think!

    However, with fewer journalists in most newsrooms these days, they really do a lot more than ‘just’ write the news. Now they have to also play the role of copy editor and perhaps rely on popular software to get the job done.

    Copy editors are vital. Software cannot replace a human, but call me old school. I’m a fan of copy editors. Copy editors are at risk with each newsroom cut and that means a possible loss of quality of product. Software cannot grasp the sentimentality of what a reporter needs or wants to say and it cannot detect accuracy. Only a human can tell if what a reporter has written should even be part of a story.

    I can understand if one uses software as additional backup, not as a replacement. Software may be a good idea for a freelancer but for a huge media company, I will always believe that a real person is always the best choice.

    For more on this topic and the inspiration for today’s Media 411, please click here for the article from the American Journalism Review.

    What do you think?

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Upcoming PR/Media Events

    Friday, April 4, 2014, 3:07 PM [Upcoming Events]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    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. Know of an event coming up? Email us the details and we’ll include in our next post.

    Event: A Conversation With Chicago’s Leading Health Care Journalists
    Host: Publicity Club of Chicago
    Date: April 9
    Location: Chicago
    Summary: Chicago's leading health care reporters talk about what makes a great story, how you can stand out from the pack, and what you can do to make sure your next pitch is successful.
    Complete event info here

    Event: Investigating Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers
    Host: Reynolds Center for Business Journalism
    Date: April 9
    Location: Online
    Summary: Learn whether stockbrokers or investment advisers have run afoul of regulators or been the subject of customer complaints. This one-hour webinar will guide you through the FINRA BrokerCheck database and the SEC’s Investment Adviser registration database. You’ll also learn how state securities regulators police the industry and how to obtain results of their investigations for your stories.
    Complete event info here

    Event: Powering B2B Marketing Campaigns Through Multimedia
    Host: PR Newswire
    Date: April 9
    Location: Online
    Summary: The B2B buying process has changed. In today’s content-heavy market, you can no longer rely only on brochures to close sales. B2B technology buyers need at least four pieces of content before they make a shortlist of vendors, including white papers, videos, blog posts and much more. This webinar will show you how to think beyond the brochure and use multimedia content to engage leads and convert them into customers.
    Complete event info here

    Event: Disruptive Innovation and Strategic Counsel: Keeping Your Institution (And You) Relevant
    Host: PRSA
    Date: April 9-11
    Location: Washington, D.C.
    Summary: Higher education communicators have a full course load, from dealing with the rise in massive open online courses (MOOCs) to preparing a campus-wide crisis communications program. The PRSA Counselors to Higher Education (CHE) Senior Summit offers creative approaches to keep your communication strategies and tactics cutting edge.
    Complete event info here. 

    Event: Monthly Luncheon
    Host: PRSA Dallas
    Date: April 10
    Location: Dallas
    Summary: Zak Andersen, vice president, corporate relations president, BNSF Foundation, will be the guest speaker.
    Complete event info here. 

    Event: Strategic Corporate Communications Leadership Summit
    Host: IABC
    Date: April 10-11
    Location: Washington, D.C.
    Summary: If you are responsible for corporate communication, public relations, human resources, social media, marketing or organizational effectiveness, join us as we reveal the latest corporate communication strategies, techniques and measurement tools.
    Complete event info here. 

    Event: The Scrappy Factor: How PR Pros Can Achieve More With Less
    Host: PRSA Cincinnati
    Date: April 11
    Location: Cincinnati
    Summary: Virtuoso violinist and keynote speaker Roddy Chong will discuss a phenomenon known as “the scrappy factor,” which is necessary to achieve goals on any stage. Find out how scrappy people, teams and companies can accomplish more and be more effective.
    Complete event info here

    Event: Creating a Strong Brand Identity Through Persuasive Messaging
    Host: NJ CAMA
    Date: April 17
    Location: Princeton, N.J.
    Summary: Whether your business is large or small, a strong brand identity is the key to standing out in a crowded marketplace. Guest speakers will lead an enlightening discussion on creating and maintaining your brand, developing a powerful voice, and how technology can support those efforts.  The event is co-sponsored by the NJ Creative Professionals.
    Complete event info here

    Event: Investigating Government Contractors
    Host: Reynolds Center for Business Journalism
    Date: April 22
    Location: Online
    Summary: Ron Nixon, domestic correspondent in the Washington bureau of The New York Times, will share how to track local and national government spending on contractors in public databases.
    Complete event info here

    Event: Supercharge Your Content: Writing and Editing Essentials
    Host: Ragan Communications
    Date: April 22
    Location: Online
    Summary: Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty, the famed writing and editing pro featured on Oprah, and Word Czar Rob Reinalda, Ragan Communications executive editor and master wordsmith, will discuss grammar basics, gaffes and memorization techniques.
    Complete event info here. 

    Event: Employing Visual Content for Compelling Storytelling
    Host: PR Newswire
    Date: April 22
    Location: Washington, D.C.
    Summary: This forum will highlight how leading organizations and thought leaders are leveraging visual assets and a variety of multimedia services to garner higher visibility, spark interaction, generate leads and build loyalty. PR Newswire members may use promo code PRN10 to receive a discounted rate of $20.
    Complete event info here. 

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com

    Media 411: Avoid These Beginner Journalist Mistakes

    Thursday, March 27, 2014, 2:30 PM [Media 411]
    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    The most difficult part of your career is the beginning -- the very first day of your chosen field when you go into the office, hospital, TV station or wherever it is you go and you begin doing what you’ve studied for years.

    If you’re a journalist, it’s a day full of expectations, from family and friends, but mainly from within yourself. You want to do well and prove you’re a good reporter, an excellent writer and that you absolutely deserve to be where you are at that very moment.

    Albeit with all the training you have, there are always ways to improve, regardless of whether you’re a novice or an experienced journalist. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking you already know everything. You don’t.

    If you’re just starting out as a reporter, this list will provide you with links to some really great clips with information that can help you avoid making the mistakes many newbies make.

    Do you have any tips for those starting their journalism careers?

    Whether you're a reporter, blogger, author or other content creator, ProfNet can help you with your search for expert sources. You can send a query to tens of thousands of experts and PR agents, search the more than 60,000 profiles on ProfNet Connect, or get timely experts and story ideas by email -- all for free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com


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