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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    Breaking Into Freelancing for Magazines

    Thursday, November 7, 2013, 1:37 PM [#ConnectChat]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Our next #ConnectChat, "Breaking Into Freelancing for Magazines," will feature Linda Formichelli (@LFormichelli), a full-time freelancer who has written for more than 150 magazines and websites.

    The chat will take place Tuesday, Nov. 12, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. EST. To submit questions for Formichelli 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 Linda Formichelli
    Linda Formichelli has written for more than 150 magazines, from Pizza Today to Redbook. She runs the Renegade Writer blog (www.therenegadewriter.com) and is the co-author of “The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing Success.” Her latest e-book is “Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race...And Step Into a Career You Love.” She lives in North Carolina with her freelancer husband and homeschooled almost-5-year-old.

    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, or get timely experts and story ideas by email. Both are free! Need help getting started? Email us at profnet@profnet.com.

    Media 411: Struggling Newspapers Sell off Old Headquarters

    Thursday, October 31, 2013, 12:59 PM [Media 411]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    It seems impossible not to come across a story each week that describes the woes of the newspaper industry.

    The New York Times recently reported that, to make money, many newspapers are selling the buildings that served as their headquarters. The article mentions The Washington Post selling their headquarters in Arlington, Va., as an example. The more troubling part of that is that the building used for producing the paper could be worth more than the actual paper if it’s in a good location.

    That same article states that the “August sale of The Washington Post for $250 million to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, included more than 700,000 square feet of printing plants and warehouses and more than 60 acres of developable land, according to CoStar.”

    Many newspapers across the country have already sold their properties, including The Times Argus, Seattle Times and San Jose Mercury News.

    However, this change in the day-to-day operations could turn things around in some way. By selling enormous properties, they can move their operations into smaller venues, manage to make a profit, and not worry about ridiculous overhead costs.

    The days of showing off grand structures are over. And are huge work spaces really necessary these days? Technology and smaller staffs make it much easier to use a smaller space.

    What are your thoughts?

    To read the Times article, please click here.

    SPOTLIGHT: Grace Lavigne, Journal of Commerce

    Friday, October 18, 2013, 5:15 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    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 Grace M. Lavigne, an associate web editor at The Journal of Commerce in Newark, N.J.

    We hope you find SPOTLIGHT both enjoyable and informative.

    Grace, tell us about what you do at The Journal of Commerce.

    I am the associate web editor for JOC.com, the website of the biweekly, glossy magazine The Journal of Commerce. The publication’s online presence provides the latest news on global supply chain issues to logistics and transportation decision-makers. 

    Did you always know you wanted to be a journalist or did you consider something else?

    Throughout my childhood, I toyed with many other ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up. At times I imagined myself becoming a scientist, an art curator and a linguist.

    However my passion for writing was always present and I decided for sure that I wanted to become a journalist when I was the editor of my high school’s newspaper. That experience solidified my interest in the media industry and gave me a confidence boost.

    Where was your first job in journalism?

    I interned during college with the Washington, D.C.-based Youth Today, a national newspaper for social service workers that work with minors. I wrote up short news articles, helped find stories, posted content online and occasionally attended meetings on Capitol Hill.

    My first full-time job was with ProfNet! As associate editor and later as senior editor, I learned how to edit other writers’ work in AP Style, create and maintain columns, manage social media for a brand, cover industry events and more. My experience at PR Newswire was irreplaceable!

    What type of stories do you usually cover?

    I write about 10 short to medium-length articles about international trade and transportation news on a daily basis. JOC covers issues specifically concerning global container cargo.

    Are your stories usually assigned or do you also get to make suggestions?

    My boss and I work together to identify and prioritize stories. We maintain a general news inbox that is subscribed to a variety of media lists and receives a daily slew of press releases from PR contacts, JOC associates and sources and other JOC writers.

    I am encouraged to pitch story ideas to my managers and work on longer articles, especially multimedia stories like slideshows and infographics.

    Do your managers also go to you for ideas?

    Sometimes JOC’s executive editor will coordinate collaborative stories that include submissions from multiple writers. For example, JOC recently published a “list” story on the Top 10 best transportation movies, which was based on suggestions from several writers, including me.

    Is there a 'best part' about doing what you do?

    I love the steps involved in bringing a story together. Sometimes I have to dig around online, call someone, find a picture, sift through a report or ask an editor something to get to the final version of an article. Finishing a story is (usually) a satisfying and proud moment.

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

    Because I’m catering to an online audience, I am always more likely to cover a story if it includes a multimedia element, such as a photo or video.

    What should they always do and never do?

    It is useful when PR professionals email the JOC news inbox with a press release and post it online on their company’s website. I source articles whenever I can with a link to the original news announcement, which boosts visibility for both JOC.com and the company in terms of SEO. I also appreciate it when PR professionals send press releases with descriptive subject lines.

    I don’t like it when press releases have a lot of flowery language. That basically just makes it harder on me to pinpoint what the real news is and cut out the promotional wording when I write it up.

    What type of experts do you like working with? Do you prefer the high-level executive or is someone at a lower level acceptable? 

    I like working with experts who have backgrounds in trade, transportation, logistics and economics. Because JOC caters to high-level executives, that’s probably the type of expert I’m usually interested in interviewing, but it would depend on the subject. 

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

    I think emailing me directly and offering additional resources, such as an interview with a source or exclusive photos, is the best way to establish a working relationship.

    What is the toughest part about being a journalist?

    Time management – knowing when to keep pursuing a story and when it’s time to call it quits is not easy. I have pursued leads that gave JOC’s coverage an edge up from our competitors, but I have also pursued leads that just ended up being a waste of time. Unlike the magazine version of JOC, every story for the website has an ASAP deadline and reduced shelf life, so balancing timeliness with comprehensiveness is tough.

    Is there a career highlight that stands out so far?

    I usually cover stories from my desk, and not from the field, so it was really cool when I recently visited the Port of NY-NJ to see five cranes being unloaded from a ship from Poland. The crane company’s project manager gave me a tour of the enormous vessel and showed me how the ship is able to unload such heavy machinery. The experience really brought my work to life and gave me a taste of the logistics industry firsthand.

    How do you use social media as part of your job?

    JOC’s marketing manager and I regularly update JOC’s Twitter presence (@JOC_Updates). We send out links to news articles; provide information about JOC events, webinars, podcasts and more; and interact with our readers.

    When you're not busy on the field, what do you do in your spare time?

    I volunteer with Literacy Volunteers of Monmouth County, a nonprofit that addresses the low literacy needs of adults. Every week for two hours, I tutor a man from Mexico on how to improve his English-language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills.

    In my spare time, I enjoy reading fiction, practicing yoga, watching HBO shows and hanging out with my boyfriend and two cats.

    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: Journalists selling subscriptions?

    Thursday, October 17, 2013, 1:06 PM [General]
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    Long gone are the days of the stereotypical trench coat-wearing journalist with a fedora on his head, notepad and pen in hand, making calls to find the big story, creating his magic on a typewriter. (A what?)

    The job of a journalist has changed drastically in the 21st century where one is expected to write, shoot video, edit video, take photos and now -- gasp! -- sell subscriptions! Can it be? Oh yes, it has come down to that. Well, kind of.

    Forbes had an interesting article this week regarding how The New Republic came up with an idea to motivate their journalists via a contest. All the staff had to do was pitch the magazine to people and the staffer with the most subscriptions sold would win and iPad Mini. Sounds fun, right?

    In my humble opinion, this may actually become the norm. Journalists will also become salespeople since social media makes it a lot easier to ask people for money. No awkward and uncomfortable phone calls or knocking on doors trying to save face while begging people to buy a subscription. Unless you’re selling Thin Mints or Samoas, the door is either unlikely to open or more likely to be closed painfully onto the tip of the nose with the first, “hello.”

    Journalists are being asked to do more everyday so it really wouldn’t be too surprising if a contest like this becomes standard fare for journalists at newspapers and magazines who depend on subscriptions to stay afloat, especially smaller outlets. Bottom lines are falling below acceptable levels everywhere so anything that can help may be asked of journalists.

    Do you think this idea would work? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    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, October 11, 2013, 5:51 PM [Upcoming Events]
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    We regularly update our ProfNet Connect calendar to include upcoming events we think will be of interest to PR and media professionals. Here are a few events coming up over the next few weeks:

    Event: Region 6 Chicago Conference
    Host: National Association of Hispanic Journalists
    Date: Oct. 12
    Location: Chicago
    Summary: Latin America: Coverage & Challenges will include workshops and panels and an awards presentation.
    Complete event info here.

    Event: David Burkus on the Myths of Creativity
    Host: PRSA Westchester/Fairfield
    Date: Oct. 16
    Location: Rye, NY
    Summary: "For anyone who struggles with creativity, or who makes excuses for delaying the work of innovation David Burkus, author of the book Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Ideas (Wiley) will help you overcome your obstacles to finding new ideas."
    Complete event info here.

    Event: Author 101 University
    Host: Author 101 University
    Date: Oct. 24-27
    Location: Las Vegas
    Summary: "Expand your brand, your earnings and your reputation as the authority in your field. After 3 days at Author101 University you'll leave with the precise tools to propel yourself into the top 3% of any industry."
    Complete event info here.

    Event: La Jolla Writer's Conference    
    Host: La Jolla Writer's Conference
    Date: Nov. 1-3
    Location: San Diego
    Summary: "Whether you are an aspiring author who has yet to put pen to paper, someone intent on writing a book to augment your business, a writer on the cusp of submitting to agents, or someone who wants to know more about the different and ever-evolving methods of publication, the La Jolla Writer’s Conference is the place for you."
    Complete event info here.

    Event: ScienceWriters2013
    Host: National Association of Science Writers presents, "ScienceWriters2013," Nov. 1-5 in Gaine
    Date: Nov. 1-5
    Location: Gainesville, FL
    Summary: "A mix of professional development workshops, briefings on the latest scientific research, extensive networking opportunities, and field trips, it is a meeting for science writers, by science writers, with content to appeal to both the newest writers and seasoned professionals."
    Complete event info here.

    Event: JournCamp
    Host: Society of Professional Journalists
    Date: Nov. 2
    Location: Minneapolis
    Summary: "In this daylong workshop, you'll get practical, skills-based professional development that will help you be a better journalist."
    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: Plagiarism and Attribution

    Thursday, October 10, 2013, 4:14 PM [General]
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    Two stories came out this week about journalism interns behaving badly at their respective publications.

    I had to do a face palm and slow shake of the head because I couldn’t understand how in a day and age where everything and anything can be discovered, people continue to play dumb and believe that others are just as naïve.

    There is no excuse for plagiarism or improper attribution. The role of a journalist is one that should not be taken lightly. Do your own research! Write your own words! Why is it necessary for anyone to pass off the work of others as their own?

    The first case is from the Toronto Star where an intern plagiarized a story -- wait, it gets really good here -- from the Toronto Star!

    2348972jgkgjiovbekv klfgver904. That was my head hitting the keyboard. I give up.

    I read the article on Poynter this morning and was surprised this can still happen.

    I know I’m being sarcastic, but I don’t like the idea of being taken for a fool. I’m at the mercy of media outlets and have to trust that what I’m reading and paying for is legitimate.

    The offender admitted to plagiarism when confronted and went as far as writing about it on his own blog. He admitted his error and will now wear the scarlet ‘P’ on his chest for a long time.

    The other offender comes from the Deseret News where an intern did not provide the proper attribution. The work was vetted according to the article in iMediaEthics, but “somehow slipped through.” It was iMediaEthics who caught the similarities between the intern’s stories and the originalsand the final tally shows there were 40 reports that were caught with problems.

    Now perhaps he didn’t have the intention to mislead anyone if you read and believe what the intern said, but is the journalist the only one at fault or is the training to blame? Are newsrooms moving too fast for those with little experience? Are mentors and mentoring programs even around anymore?

    I’m willing to give these two journalists in training the benefit of the doubt, but our future journalists need to get it together.

    What’s your take?

    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: Journalists Affected by Government Shutdown

    Thursday, October 3, 2013, 2:12 PM [Media 411]
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    The government shutdown has interrupted the lives of millions of Americans including the lives of those responsible for providing us with necessary information.

    When journalists started to visit the websites of the U.S. Census Bureau, they were welcomed with a message indicating that said site wasn’t running. Many reporters depend on these sites for data to include in their reports but now aren’t able to do so.

    All census.gov hosted websites are closed including:


    There are alternatives, however, that provide limited information for journalists who need data:

    EDGAR: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s search tools are still working.  SEC announced its plan of operations (PDF) before the shutdown.  “During the period in which there is a lapse in appropriations, the Committee will periodically reassess the agency’s functions that need to be maintained, and may amend its designation of those excepted from furlough to increase, decrease, or change those so designated”.

    HUD: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development site is still up, but there is a warning about no data will be updated.

    PACER: Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is up and running.  If that changes, RecaptheLaw.org  is an incomplete, user sourced (thus should be treated with caution) alternative.

    IRS: While the Internal Revenue Service site is working, operations are limited. And the IRS is quick to remind us all that “the underlying tax law remains in effect and taxpayers should continue to meet their tax obligations.”

    USA.gov: This overarching federal government site will lead you to an update on the status of government services.

    The full list of alternatives can be seen here in an article written and posted by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.

    (The information for this post was taken directly from the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism.)

    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: Content Connections

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013, 1:16 PM [#ConnectChat]
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    On Tuesday, Oct. 1, we hosted our latest #ConnectChat, "Content Connections" with Alexandra Owens (@ASJAhq), the executive director of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

    Alexandra talked about ASJA's upcoming conference in Chicago, new opportunities for freelancers in corporate work, breaking into that niche 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.

    Welcome & thank you for joining today’s #ConnectChat with @ASJAhq! This is Evelyn Tipacti, taking over @ProfNet for the duration of the #ConnectChat. Our guest today is Alexandra Owens, the executive director of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). Hi, Alexandra! Thanks for being our guest on today's #connectchat! Great to have you back with us!

    Hi Evelyn, and thanks for having me!

    For those who may not be familiar with the ASJA, what are the goals of the organization?

    #ASJA is the professional association of independent nonfiction writers. In other words, ASJA is the professional association of freelancers. Since 1948 we've been focused on helping freelance writers prosper by keeping up with changing times, contract, fees, info, and helping them create the network so valuable to any independent professional.

    Alexandra, there's a specific focus for the conference in Chicago which is titled "Content Connections." Can you please tell us what that focus is?

    This is a new event for us. We're very excited about it! This event, in Chicago next month, is focused on new opportunities for freelances in corporate work. Digital content doesn't write itself. Writers have a critical role to play in the changing industry. Traditional media is changing, finding new sources of revenue, which often involve custom content. Custom content is just as important to get right as other kinds of nonfiction, so professional writers are key to success. Freelance writers who come to the event can meet corporate and other editors who need their skills. It's open to the public, and writers at every level are welcome!

    The link to the "Content Connections" conference in Chicago is: www.asja.org/concon/ 

    How did the idea come about for this particular conference?

    ASJA's been talking for a while about having conferences outside of NYC, to complement our annual event. Many of our members have been working in custom content for years, but there is a new focus on it on the editorial side. Our Chicago chapter, headed by @jycleaver, stepped up to organize and host this event on a very hot topic! We're thrilled.

    That's very exciting, Alexandra! How does this one differ from the conference in NYC earlier this year?

    "ConCon" is a more intimate, more focused event, exploring only the business of custom content. The ASJA Annual Conference in NYC is broad, including book authorship and many other forms of nonfiction writing. In Chicago, writers will be able to spend time in conversation with content buyers, editors, and other writers in this arena to really get an inside look at the new ways journalists can use their skills in corporate work.

    The title of the conference is certainly catchy!

    It's one day of sessions, plus an optional half-day of morning workshops on Friday, so it's less time-consuming.

    If someone is on the fence about going, why should they attend? What are the benefits?

    The question I get most is "How can I get into custom content work?" This event answers that question. So if that's of interest to a freelance writer, there's no reason to be on the fence. These days, working writers need to find new doors to open, and coming to events like this is a great way to find them.  Even beginning freelances will find information about building a business that will help them start out on the right foot.

    There are some on this chat who may not know that companies have sites that cater to consumers without being the same as sponsored content. Can you please explain the difference?

    In a word, no. :) There are so many ways companies use content. There is no one easy answer to that question. That's one of the areas we'll be exploring in Chicago. But you can go to any major corporate website these days and likely find original written content designed for consumers. The idea is to bring readers to the site, create or build on the relationship between the company and clients/customers -- to engage the reader, and by association benefit the company. There are many different ways this happens. Outside of the traditional constraints of print advertising, companies are putting more resources into material that will reach their current and likely customers in positive ways. Not just written, too--video and other forms are just as important. Writers need to be creative, flexible, and very resourceful to meet those needs.

    Alexandra, what are the benefits to a company when hiring a professional writer?

    We've seen what happens when there are no barriers to entry in freelance writing. When those who need writers seek the cheapest writer possible, it's obvious to the reader. Professional writers bring professional skills to the table, and corporations not in the media business need those skills. Often, the person in a company charged with getting "content" onto the website is not an experienced editor. He or she might be in marketing, or come from the business side. When hiring a writer, then, advanced skills become critical. Pro writers learn new skills and keep up with technology, and by definition freelances are flexible and quick studies.  Hiring a professional first can save a lot of heartache and get the job done right the first time. And if the work isn't effective, what's the point?

    How does a writer connect with a company and how does one know where to look for this type of work?

    Again, that's what this event is going to cover. There's no one way. Often it's a personal connection and sometimes it's sending out LOIs. As the industry evolves and work pops up in new places, there are always new answers. I've heard stories of people being engaged by local businesses, or by sitting next to someone on an airplane.

    Vice versa, how does a company connect with a writer?

    That's an easier question to answer, if the company is ready to look for professionals. Often they don't understand what is involved. Pro writers have work ethics that corporate buyers might not be used to. But we're here to bridge the gap. Part of the conference is designed specifically to introduce writers to corporate people and vice-versa. On Thursday afternoon a special event called Client Connections will pair up writers with people in need of specific skills.

    Do you think some writers are concerned about writing for organizations that aren't the standard media outlet?

    Some writers may be, but others are happy with their name on a check rather than a byline. It depends on your professional goals. However, there is a new world of content that isn't journalism but also isn't the old advertorial type. Wonderful stories are being told on corporate platforms, and writers need not be skittish. But they do need to know their own comfort level with respect to how they want to work. I say, keep an open mind! Storytelling is at the heart of all effective communication, no matter who is paying the bill. Pro writers know that.

    About Client Connections: Writers and content buyers ("clients") sign up in advance, paying a small additional fee to join in. About three weeks before the event a survey will go out seeking detail from both sides, and matches will be made. If no appropriate matches can be made, the fee will be refunded. But I don't think there's much risk of that. :) I expect to hear success stories of wonderful matches and connections made. It just takes one great meeting, sometimes!

    Alexandra, why are company/consumer sites so important to writers?

    To be blunt, old media is going away. Freelance writers who have depended on a few steady magazine editors for work must expand. Magazines don't pay $2 a word anymore, with the very rare exception, and contracts are more limiting than they used to be. For a writer's career to stay viable, new sources of work have to keep being found. And finding clients with high standards is important. There are lots of ways to sell writing, but not all of them really work. So corporations who have learned (and there are more every day) about the value of good writing can be your best client. Corporations and other businesses need quality writing; and quality writers need them too. So it's win-win. Writing for corporations has challenges, sure, but many of the old-media frustrations don't apply.

    Anything else writers can get from attending ConCon?

    Writers will meet dozens of other writers working in the content market, and those connections can make all the difference. I often hear that it's the conversations in the elevator or on line for lunch that make a conference valuable. Especially true for a subject area about which there is so much unknown on both sides. So come and talk, learn, and connect with us!

    Can you also please tell us about the sponsorship opportunities available?

    The ASJA Educational Foundation is running this event, and sponsors enjoy wide engagement at this and our other events. Being onsite at #ASJAConCon will be valuable for sponsors who want to broaden their exposure to professional writers. But physical presence isn't required. We love to design special packages of conference or media benefits for sponsors. So anyone interested in sponsorship, contact me! I'm at director@asja.org. It's also not too early to discuss sponsorship for #ASJA2014, so I'd love to hear from interested parties.

    Is the pay different from, better than regular freelancing?

    I'm glad you asked! This is one of the times where keeping an open mind is important. Traditional media (and long-time writers) tend to think of freelance pay as so much per word. That model doesn't apply here. It's very important to look at pay from different perspectives, to consider how much time/effort is involved in a project -- how much research, how many interviews, etc. The length of the published piece should be irrelevant these days. Generally speaking, the pay is better compared to traditional models -- at least, until traditional media companies catch up. (Personally, I believe old-school journalism will make a comeback and find its financial feet again.) But in the meantime, corporate writing can be a very lucrative way for freelance writers to move ahead.  

    I understand ASJA membership eligibility rules have changed. Can you elaborate?

    Sure! To keep up with these changing markets we've tweaked our eligibility guidelines a little. Now, articles or pieces written for corporate news organs can qualify, whereas we used to exclude "corporate" work entirely. I encourage anyone who has considered membership in the past to check again. Oh, and for October and November we're having an application fee sale! So if you've been waiting to apply, now is the time. ASJA's application fee is 50% off until the end of November.

    Alexandra, thanks so much for being our guest on today's #ConnectChat!

    Thank you, Evelyn! This was fun and I look forward to the next time.

    We hope everyone here will attend ConCon in Chicago! Here again is the link: www.asja.org/concon/

    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: The Blurred Lines of Sponsored Content

    Thursday, September 26, 2013, 2:46 PM [Media 411]
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    The traditional advertising model is slowly withering away and publishers are looking for fresh, exciting new ways to keep the advertising dollars rolling in. In an era saturated with social media, where the typed word can have a make-or-break effect on a business, it’s vital for publishers to find a way to keep themselves afloat and hopefully, profitable.

    Sponsored content is becoming the latest must-have by advertisers who want to ensure consumer eyes are seeing their product. The problem most consumers have with sponsored content, however, is its ability to blend in too easily with the “real” editorial content of a publication. It creates a blurred line that makes it difficult for some consumers to distinguish the content from the advertising. The ads are made to have the same look and feel as the publication, with images that also make it seem like an article instead of an ad. Adding confusion to the mix is trying to distinguish whether a staff writer wrote a piece or if it came from a sponsor. It has many scratching their heads, for sure.

    One can’t blame advertisers for trying to get placement. It's part of their responsibility to also remain profitable by making sure consumers know about them.  Nonetheless, have publications gone too far? Are they losing credibility?

    As a consumer, I would feel comfortable with it as long as there is a clear mention that what I’m reading is an ad and whether it was written by a staffer or the sponsor. That would certainly make a difference, and I would question the publication’s integrity if I knew that one of their writers was writing an ad in addition to their own legitimate articles. I don’t think a journalist should also be a copywriter for the publication they represent. But again, that’s just my opinion. 

    Here are two articles that touch on this topic:

    News Organizations Face Tricky Trade-Off With 'Sponsored Content' (AdAge)

    FTC Will Study 'Sponsored Content' Online Ads (U.S. News & World Report)

    What do you think? Are you willing to accept sponsored content or is it a deception to those who purchase a publication (regardless of it being printed or online)? 

    Upcoming #ConnectChat: Content Connections

    Thursday, September 26, 2013, 9:12 AM [#ConnectChat]
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    Our next #ConnectChat, "Content Connections with the ASJA," will feature Alexandra Owens (@ASJAhq), executive director of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA).

    Owens will discuss why companies should hire professional writers for content, the ASJA's upcoming Chicago conference, the sponsorship opportunities available, the importance of the conference for writers, and much, much, more.

    The chat will take place Tuesday, Oct. 1, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. EDT. To submit questions for Owens 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 will 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 Alexandra Owens

    Alexandra Cantor Owens is executive director of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and the ASJA Educational Foundation. She has been with ASJA since 1985 and loves working with freelance writers day in and day out. She has seen ASJA grow from a New York-centric group of magazine writers to today's national organization of almost 1,500 professional writers of nonfiction for all media. The birth of the ASJA Educational Foundation in 2010 further extended ASJA's reach and allows freelancers at all stages of their careers to learn from the experts.

    Having started just two years out of college, Owens has devoted almost her entire working life to ASJA. In 2000, she stepped down as executive director to work closer to home and family while her children were small, but continued as the director of ASJA's Writer Referral Service.

    Back at ASJA full-time since 2007, technology now allows her to split her time between ASJA's Times Square headquarters and her home in Morris County, N.J. A native Manhattanite, Owens received a B.A. from William Smith College in Geneva, N.Y.; she loves the center-of-the-world view from her fourth-floor office, but appreciates the calm of the suburbs, as well.

    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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