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Media - Broadcast
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Media - Student Journalist
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Organization:ProfNet Connect (PR Newswire)
Area of Expertise:Media Relations, Hispanic Media
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When I was younger and a less experienced writer, I occasionally used clichés to make what I was trying to say easier to understand. Now that I am a more experienced writer (and always learning), I realize they are a lazy way of saying anything at all.
Clichés in any article make me cringe and make me wonder how they could have gotten past an editor.
Clichés are also a part of everyday conversation. There's one in particular which always irks the heck out of me -- think outside the box. There's just something about that one which annoys me every time someone says it. I once knew a gentleman who used it at least once per day. I gradually stopped speaking to him.
Below are ten of the most irritating clichés for me personally, but for an excellent list of clichés you should avoid saying or writing, authonomy provides one of the most extensive lists I've seen. I have it bookmarked.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is bringing soccer fans from all over the country together in bars, living rooms, offices, parks, and even stores that sell big screen televisions. Anywhere there’s a TV, there’s a big probability it’s tuned into the World Cup.
Soccer fever has been in full swing since June 12 and won’t end until the final match between Germany and Argentina this coming Sunday. Even if you don’t root for either team, you’ll likely watch the war that will end with the strongest team winning the golden cup trophy. The World Cup is one of those events that everyone wants to watch.
Soccer has gained traction in the United States, a fact supported by Major League Soccer and the success it has had via the support of fans who show up in droves to attend the matches. Even so, soccer is still not considered a “top” sport by many here in America who are confused by the rules or may be turned off by the academy award-winning antics of players who fall or are hit in a way that doesn’t warrant such a dramatic performance.
One of the things I cannot grasp is how soccer hasn’t caught on the same way as baseball or basketball. Isn’t soccer a huge part of childhood? Why doesn’t that love stick as kids grow? Being a ‘soccer mom’ is as fleeting as being a player but the term exists because kids play it. When does it stop being popular? It’s somewhat sad to me having grown up in a family and culture that loves the sport. It’s in the blood – it’s a passion and something that brings the family together. It’s probably the most popular sport in the rest of the world! Many times as a kid I'd be studying only to be jolted out of my chair by my Nana's screams which resulted in my bolting out of my room terrified to see why she was so hysterical. It always because her team had either made a goal or missed one.
Although I love the sport, I also understand that the drama on the field may have a deterrent effect for some. I have to admit I get a kick out of the fake grimaces and falls because it does seem some players are required to take acting classes to play.
If you haven't already seen it, I'd like to share this funny video with you which shows what life would be like if we reacted to things like soccer players:
If you haven't seen any of the matches, try giving it a shot during the finals and see why people everywhere are watching it and talking about it. You may find yourself screaming "gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooal" right along with the rest of us.
On Tuesday, July 8, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Insider Tips for Book Promotion" with Sandra Poirier Smith, president of Smith Publicity, an international book marketing company based in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Sandra discussed the differences between advertising and publicity, the importance of bloggers, specific media outlets interested in books and much more.
Please follow @ProfNet and @editorev on Twitter for more information on future chats or check back right here on ProfNet Connect for details.
Smith Publicity works with authors and publishers to create awareness about their books, author brand and/or expertise. Since 1997, Smith Publicity has promoted thousands of titles from New York Times bestsellers to first time self published authors. I work with authors to help them build strategies to make it as easy as possible for the media to cover them in some way.
What is the difference between advertising and publicity?
Advertising is controllable. Authors/publishers control where, when and how often an ad for a book is placed. Publicity is not controllable. The media decides if, when and how a book or author is covered in the news. Advertising is not as credible because consumers know it is paid for by the author or publisher. Publicity is credible because media outlets choose to make the author & book part of the news, good book publicity is priceless.
What is book publicity?
Book publicity is using the media as a conduit to create awareness about an author or title.
What type of media outlets are interested in books?
Media outlets interested in books range from newspapers, magazines, radio, television, online/blog outlets. .@NPRNews loves authors as does @HuffingtonPost. We've had authors on @TODAYshow, @nytimes and many, many national outlets. Local media is outstanding for authors beginning to build platforms: newspapers, radio, arts magazines/online outlets & TV. Smaller media markets are great ways for authors to begin to build awareness as coverage here often builds to larger media.
What is the difference in lead time (from interest to placement) with different media types?
Lead time for authors to try to secure coverage in media varies for different types of media. Lead time for radio, newspaper & online can be instantaneous. We pitch & often hear back same day for interviews opportunities. Magazines often work three to six months in advance of publication, so pitch now for Thanksgiving themed feature stories. Check editorial calendars of magazines to see the topics they will be covering & make you & your book relevant to the theme!
Do you work with authors who self publish?
Yes! We've promoted self published authors for 16 years!
What are some examples of how the media may cover an author?
Interviews, articles, feature stories, expert commentary, book reviews, excerpts, byline articles, op-ed pieces, etc. Media coverage varies by genre & expertise, often non-fiction experts have unlimited ways to make themselves part of the news. Non-fiction authors are often tapped for months or years for expert commentary especially when breaking news is on their topic.
Are there specific challenges for self-published authors in terms of getting publicity?
In years past, yes. But now not as much. If a book is solidly edited, written by a credentialed author, then the media often looks at this rather than the publishing process. For book reviews, however some outlets still only review traditionally published authors.
Are bloggers important?
Blogger are important in helping authors create awareness. Bloggers often specialize by genre and have loyal followers!
When should I start promoting my book to the media?
If you have galleys then 4 to 6 months, if not, we recommend starting media outreach around when people can buy the book
What are some tips regarding what authors should have on their website/blog?
Author website: about the book, author, book excerpt, media contact page, links to buy the book, NEWSLETTER SIGN up is key. Author blogs are important. Selling autographed books through the website can help improve profitability for authors.
How should authors use social media for book promotion?
Try to have an active social media presence. Having a Twitter, Facebook & Google+ page authors can interact w/ potential fans. Updating social media as much as possible is important to growing your following and finding your fan base.
Is promoting fiction different than non-fiction?
Promoting fiction and non-fiction books are a bit different. Fiction is often more about the "entertaining" value of a book. For fiction titles, the author's background is important, but not as important as when we are promoting a non-fiction title.
When promoting non-fiction authors, credentials are key! We need to tell the media why someone should listen to this author. In promoting non-fiction authors, we often are focusing more on the author's experience, credentials, advice than the book. With thousands of book published everyday, we (or the author) needs to differentiate why their book is unique.
For fiction, it is important to reach the fans of the genre--romance, historical fiction, sci-fi, mystery, for example. For non-fiction, it's more about reaching the target audience interested in the author's expertise, not directly book interest.
What are some ways I can promote myself (and my book) as an expert?
Compile a list of media outlets of interest to you, then research contact information. Be brief, specific and lead with why you and your book should be of interest to their audiences. Offer a book for review.Spell outlet's name/contact's name correctly and note any specific stories or features to show this is a tailored "pitch.” Remember media outlets do not care that you wrote a book. They care about how you can add value to their "news."
If I'm an author and use ProfNet for potential media leads, what tips do you have for authors on how to respond to queries?
As book publicists, we often get outstanding media placements for our authors using ProfNet leads. Tips include checking and responding to ProfNet queries as soon as possible. When responding to ProfNet leads, be as brief and specific as possible. Do not give a long book synopsis for example. Answer the query as specifically as possible. Don't go off topic! Offer to send additional information. To make it easier for the ProfNet contact to reach you, offer times you're available to talk, contact information website, etc.
How can byline articles and op-ed pieces help promote books?
Byline articles are articles experts/authors write related to their expertise or book's topic. Byline articles are "pitched" or offered typically to magazines, newspapers an online outlets for potential publication. Byline articles are 600-900 words long and cannot be too "salesy" or self promotional. If an article is picked up, the author is credited as the writer, typically with a byline including their book's title. Topics of a byline articles include how to, case study with problems/solutions, tips style articles.
Byline article example for a self published business author we promoted was picked up by @TIME was about how to start a company you could someday sell. Byline articles are outstanding for fiction and non-fiction authors.
An example of a fiction byline was about a woman who chose not to have children and the social/emotional result. Her novel centered on a main character who chose not to have children. Her article was picked up by dozens of outlets worldwide.
How does promotion of children's book differentiate from promotion of books for adults?
When promoting adult books, we are often targeting the potential buyer. When promoting children's books, we’re appealing to book buyers in their lives: parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers.
What are the promotion pitfalls often suffered/experienced by self-publishers?
Sometimes because self-published authors wear all hats, when promoting a book, he can become too emotional if passed over. When authors promote their own books, they have to be very business-like or media contacts tend to shy away. We know the book is the author's baby (it should be!), authors who brag too much or uses too many adjectives when interacting with the media can turn people away. Use excerpts from reviews form Amazon or Goodreads. Showcase, in bullet points, who your book is for, what they will get from it and why it is different. Offer review copies!
I want to write a press release about my book. What should I include (not include)?
Book press releases should include again what makes your book different! For fiction, clearly state the genre. Even though press releases are usually sent via email, still try to keep to one page. For fiction, state the genre, a little of the story line without giving too much away, add interesting author bio! Add links.
For non-fiction books be specific in your press releases what will the reader learn, why is the information different. For non-fiction books, the author bio is key! Why should someone invest their time and listen to your advice and information. Submit in the standard press release format (title, subtitle, contact information, paragraph form, author bio, etc. Always include links to website, blog, retail pages, social media, etc. in your book press releases.
Should I organize a book signing?
Local book signings can be a great way for authors to introduce their book to potential buyers. Visit chain and independent bookstores, introduce yourself as a local author and ask about book signing options. Bookstores can set up events in a few weeks, some larger stores may take several months.
For self-published authors, offer to stock the shelves with signed books. Think outside the box for book signing events! Health book can be done at yoga studio...romance at a local lingerie store. Invite your friends, colleagues, neighbors, relatives, mail man. Let the venue know you have local people you are inviting. At a bookstore, have a friend be a greeter directing people to you and your signing. Consider giving a talk related to the book!
Do you have tips on a robust Amazon listing?
Make sure the listing has a book cover, look inside, detailed author bio and robust book description. Amazon offers an author page option where on the listing you can click on the author's name for more information. Use this! Include website, blog, media runs, other books etc. in the author section.
Once a book is available for sale, readers can post reviews about the book. Encourage family, friends and fan to post reviews. If this is a second book, contact past reviews to preview a free copy of your book in exchange for a fair review! Make sure your Amazon listing has your book tagged for the right genre. Some self-published authors shared that they changed these tags to come up in different search results.
For example romance, historical fiction, paranormal fiction, mystery can apply to the same book. Don't lose out on audiences!
Our next #ConnectChat, "Insider Tips for Book Promotion" will feature Sandra Poirier Smith, (@SmithPublicity), the president of Smith Publicity, an international book marketing company based out of Cherry Hill, NJ.
Sandra will discuss how authors can get publicity for their books and provide visibility to their work and expertise. She'll also discuss how advertising differs from publicity and much more to help get you the publicity you seek.
The chat will take place Tuesday, July 8 from 3 to 4:30 p.m, EDT. To submit questions for Sandra in advance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Sandra Poirier Smith
Sandra is the president of Smith Publicity, Inc., an international book marketing company dedicated to helping authors create awareness about their books and expertise through media coverage. Smith Publicity has promoted thousands of authors/publishers since 1997—from New York Times best sellers to first time, self-published books.
At Smith Publicity, Sandra consults with publishers and authors of every genre developing tailored strategic plans to help build author brands to attract attention for their work. Sandy has worked with hundreds of authors and publishers ranging from New York Times bestseller Jeff Foxworthy, Curvebender Publishing, publishers of the sold out book Places I Remember by Henry Grossman (author)/Sir Paul McCartney (introduction), The Writer’s Coffee Shop, original publishers of Fifty Shades of Grey, Harvard Business Review Press to Boardwalk Empire by Johnson, the book upon which the HBO Series was based.
She also works closely with Smith Publicity’s creative and diverse team of book publicists to research story ideas, angles and tie-ins to breaking news to create media attention for their authors. This media exposure has helped Smith Publicity clients secure lucrative business opportunities, new book deals, writing/blogging/column invitations, op-ed and byline article placements, regular appearances as the expert on national television programs, expert commentary quotes, film option interest, speaking engagements, and of course, increased book sales.
Sandra previously worked as Manager of Marketing Services for Thomson & Thomson, of the Thomson Reuters Corporation, where she planned and implemented over 400 marketing, PR, and image development programs. Sandra also worked for Advanced Computer Graphics in Boston, MA, servicing clients such as Reebok, the National Association of Desktop Publishers as Associate Editor, and for Ocean Spray Cranberries of Plymouth, MA. She has extensive experience in graphic design and website content development.
Sandra earned a Bachelor of Science in Art, and a Master of Business Administration from Northeastern University in Boston.
Smartphones are everywhere and almost everyone seems to have one. If you’re a journalist then you almost certainly have one, but if you don’t, run out, get one and start taking advantage os some pretty cool apps that can help you with your reporting.
The apps available to journalists are quite plentiful, so I’ve put together a list of articles that name the top apps journalists should be using. There are several out there you should automatically download, but read on to see which ones would work best for your particular journalistic needs.
For years I've been an advocate of kids and young children (and adults) learning how to speak and write well. I read to my daughter as much as possible and hope that she will develop a love for reading and writing like me. When kids are little they absorb information and new experiences like sponges. They're curious and want to learn as much as they can and see a cause and effect. It's remarkable to see them show you what they've learned. They learn all the time, not necessarily just in a classroom experience.
The English language is beautiful when spoken and written correctly. Anything less is an insult to the language we call our native tongue. Unfortunately, it gets butchered all the time in social media and even on television. Chills run up and down my spine and my blood boils when I see someone who has written 'its' instead of 'it's' or has said I'd like an 'expresso' instead of an 'espresso.' I could go on and on with examples but you get the point.
If kids are the future, then let's teach them. It is fundamental to their future that they speak and write well. Way too often I see people with a college degree who can barely write. How did they graduate? Perhaps I'm too harsh, but sincerely, how did they ever complete an acceptable thesis to get their diploma? I digress...
When I was a child I knew I wanted a career in media, whether as a writer, reporter, or anything else that would allow me be creative and express myself with words or via a visual medium. My family was always supportive and my grandparents who raised me, always pushed for me to learn and do the best I could and to reach for the stars, so when I see companies who also want to help support a child's dream, I'm thrilled. If your child has expressed interest in becoming a journalist, here's an opportunity you may want to consider:
The Scholastic News Kids Press Corps, a nationwide team of Kid Reporters ages 10-14, is now accepting applications for the 2014-2015 school year. Students with a strong interest in journalism and writing can learn more about the program and the criteria for applying at www.scholastic.com/news. Applications must be postmarked by September 26, 2014.
For more than 13 years, the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps has covered, "news for kids, by kids," reporting on current events, breaking news, and entertainment stories from reporters' hometowns and on the national stage.
"The Scholastic News Kids Press Corps has a long history of smart and talented young reporters, some of whom have gone on to careers as professional journalists," said Suzanne McCabe, editor of the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps. "As we look toward the midterm elections and other big news stories this year, I am excited to start working with the next group of Kid Reporters."
In 2012, the Kid Reporters provided extensive coverage of the presidential election, which appeared on the award-winning Scholastic 2012 Election website, and the devastation and recovery efforts in the Northeast caused by Hurricane Sandy. Members of the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps have had the opportunity to interview politicians, entertainers, authors, scientists, sports stars, and newsmakers, including President Barack Obama, singer/songwriter Taylor Swift, Norman Bridwell, creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog(R), astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks. They've also gathered "Tips from the Pros" from such journalists as Brian Williams, anchor of NBC Nightly News, and Soledad O'Brien, special correspondent to Al Jazeera America's America Tonight, reporter for HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and founder of Starfish Media Group.
The dawn of television news in the 1940’s brought the ability of national and international stories to enter our homes front and center with images and sound. Since then there have been several events that forever will stay in our minds and will be synonymous with the era of television news.
Here’s my top ten list. I know there are some missing, so what events would you add?
1) The assassination of JFK (1963) “Do you remember where you were when John F. Kennedy was shot?” A question which has been asked over and over again to those who lived that fateful day.
2) The Civil Rights Movement (1960s) The struggle for equal rights and the violence of this decade was shown and Americans could see the ugly reality of what was taking place. Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination was also
3) The Challenger Explosion (1986) The country’s most famous teacher, Christa McAuliffe was set to become the first teacher in space when tragedy struck 73 seconds into the Challenger’s flight and exploded before ever reaching space.
4) OJ Simpson Murder Trial (1994) The Ford Bronco was never the same after this. Who could forget the famous chase which seemed to be seen by everyone on earth? And don’t forget the famous line spoken by the late Johnnie Cochran, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
5) The Monica Lewinsky Scandal (1998) Yes, I had to include this. Political figures love to be involved in scandals and this one took the cake in the 90’s. Sex scandals were much publicized after this one and President Bill Clinton somehow escaped without too much injury.
6) Columbine (1999) School shootings were about to increase after this horror took place. A school shooting in Paducah, Kentucky two years earlier was also in the news but the number of those who died and were injured surpassed anything this country had ever seen. 12 students lost their lives.
7) The 2000 Presidential Election. Can you say ‘hanging chads?’ The presidential election of 2000 showed the election process is severely flawed. It left most of us shaking our heads in disbelief that in the Y2K, this could still happen.
8) September 11, 2001.
9) Barack Obama Becomes the Nation’s First Black President. (2009). History was made as he was inaugurated in January, 2009.
10) Sandy Hook (2012) The horror of this day cannot be imagined for us who were not directly affected. Coverage was unbearable and seemed to be too much as the media did not leave the small town of Newtown, Connecticut for a long time. I cannot even type what took place but if you don’t know by now, please search online, if necessary.
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.’
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.