Grace Lavigne

    • Member Type(s): Content Publisher
      Media - Print Journalist
      Media - Web-only/Blogger
      Media - Other
    • Title:Reporter
    • Organization:American Metal Market
    • Area of Expertise:Writing, Editing, Social Media

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    How to Pitch Lifestyle Editors

    Thursday, August 9, 2012, 11:13 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Publicity Club of New York (PCNY) hosted a luncheon on Wednesday, Aug. 8, featuring a panel of five lifestyle editors who discussed how they like to be pitched. Check out comments about it on Twitter via #PCNY.

    Peter Himler (@PeterHimler), president of PCNY, kicked off the dialogue by telling the crowd that these days, "publicists outnumber journalists 3 to 1." Sharpening your pitching technique is more important than ever if you're looking to land press coverage.

    Each panelist spoke for about 10 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of general Q&A, moderated by Edelman Worldwide's Lisa Kovitz (@lisakovitz):

    New York Daily News: Life & Style Editor/Producer Lindsay Goldwert

    • Goldwert looks for stories with a "women's magazine-type feel," including topics like body positivity and food, as well as "feel good" themes.
    • She notes that article pitches must be as current as possible and relevant to "right now." She needs subject-matter experts who can talk right away.
    • Stories on celebrities with health problems (and relevant experts) are especially pitch-worthy, e.g., when Paula Deen announced she had diabetes.
    • Pictures are great and the most important part of a pitch!
    • No time for desksides.
    • Contact: @lindsaygoldwert or

    WNYW-TV "Good Day New York": Executive Producer Jason Hartelius

    • Hartelius receives hundreds of emails daily -- sometimes even a thousand or more. Be concise, don't overpitch (i.e., don't send the same email every day) and don't use bait-and-switch tactics.
    • Pitches can be as simple as: "Hey, I got this idea -- what do you think?" Put relevant information at the top; don't be longwinded.
    • Subject lines should be catchy. If you write "Attention Jason Hartelius: [Topic]" he will very likely read it.
    • Stories must be local. And no promotional material -- the segment should be about the story, not selling. "Know the show!"
    • There is one slot per day for a fun or remote piece. Recent examples include local firemen washing circus elephants and an anchor taking a ride in a monster truck.
    • The show generally has no interest in featuring a guest who has recently appeared or will soon appear on a competitor's show (no "same day" bookings). The only exception might be if it's an extremely famous celebrity.
    • Contact: @jasonhartelius or or

    The Huffington Post: Women's Editor Margaret Wheeler Johnson

    • HuffPost Women typically features news items and original reporting, essays from "ordinary" women, body image, women's health and compelling stories.
    • Do not pitch off-topic ideas about dieting and nutrition, parenting and fashion and style. Wheeler Johnson is not interested in any stories that include the words "your man."
    • If you're a woman, ask yourself: "Would you want to read this story?"
    • No product pitches.
    • Images are great! Nice images can be turned into a slideshow. This is a great option for book publicists in particular.
    • To know what types of topics to pitch, read the front page! And watch out for cross-posting (e.g., sometimes fashion stories are reposted from HuffPost Style).
    • She looks for fresh perspectives from subject-matter experts.
    • Experts must have links to back up their statements. Quotes from health experts in particular will be checked.
    • Wheeler Johnson doesn't usually leave the office to cover events, since Huffington Post has a national audience.
    • She doesn't understand the concept of a deskside; the pitch should be engaging and well-crafted enough that a deskside isn't necessary. If she's looking for a fresh quote, she'll call you on the phone.
    • Typos in article submissions are a big no-no; the editorial department is busy enough already.
    • Contact: @mwjohnso or

    WPLJ-FM "The Big Show With Scott & Todd": Producer Joe Pardavila

    • Radio in general has a large reach for suburbanites, particularly in the New York area, which has lots of commuters (i.e., "bridge and tunnel").
    • This morning radio show targets women ages 25-54 in the New York area in particular. The crowd includes college-educated women, soccer-mom types and even teeny boppers (since they're in the car with Mom). This audience might not want to listen to Justin Bieber, but they certainly know who he is.
    • Press releases and pitches don't need to be longer than one paragraph. If Padavila isn't interested in the idea, extra paragraphs won't help.
    • Have fun with a pitch. Pardavila is not interested in anything morose, depressing, technical or "high brow." Simple stories are best!
    • People say: "I want to wake up and laugh." Keep that in mind.
    • Contact: @joepardavila or

    BuzzFeed Shift: Editor Amy Odell

    • BuzzFeed wants every single article they post to go viral. Most traffic on the site comes from Facebook. Think about what people want to click on.
    • Common topics cover style, beauty, health, fitness, food, grooming, powerful women, career, celebrities, relationships, hipsters. Anything funny!
    • Fashion pitches in particular must be funny or relatable; high-fashion pieces are not appropriate.
    • Odell says press releases are basically never funny, and she hardly ever finds story ideas from them. She might open a press release if the idea sounds really bizarre.
    • What does Odell want from PR pros? Exclusive access to experts or celebrities.
    • She can't use content if it's posted on other sites -- original material is a must.
    • She prefers to use stories immediately; there's not much lead time, unless it's an interview a celebrity that has to be planned in advance, for example.
    • Odell typically doesn't cover events, but she might send reporters to an interesting event so they can live tweet from it (to draw in new followers). But it most likely will never become an article.
    • No desksides.
    • Contact: @amyodell or


    ProfNet, a service of PR Newswire, has helped journalists and experts connect since 1992. Writers can search the ProfNet Connect database of more than 50,000 profiles; send a ProfNet query by email to thousands of subscribers around the globe; or get timely experts and story ideas by email.

    image via Flickr user Jordanhill School D&T Dept

    7 Business Lessons From Your Cat

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 11:18 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    After Maria Perez wrote 7 Business Lessons From Your Dog, I decided we cat lovers needed a response post! Cats rule, dogs drool.

    Anyone who has ever had a cat can tell you they've learned a lot from their furry friend: an appreciation for the simple luxuries in life, the coziness of a warm spot in the sun, the beauty of the never-ending nap, the value of unconditional companionship. But our kitties can teach us a few lessons that translate into the business world too.

    1. Wait for Genuine Relationships to Develop

    My kitties, Fidel and Dolly, who are brother and sister, were abandoned by their previous owner at the SPCA just before Christmas, when they were about 1 year old. I adopted the munchkins on Valentine's Day (awwww) in 2011. When I first brought them home, they were terrified. For months after that, Fidel and Dolly would run away if anyone made eye contact or moved too suddenly. Petting them wasn't even a consideration, as they would never let you get close enough to try. This was, of course, frustrating -- I wanted them to be content and comfortable kitties!

    It took about a year of consistent kindness for them to get fully accustomed to me, and the payoff for my patience has been huge! Now the kitties love to be pet (they even demand pets sometimes by bumping me with their heads) and snuggle up next to me while I'm sleeping.

    Trust is an essential component of a successful business relationship. And knowing that a business is dependable -- that they won't abandon you -- is the result of positive interactions over time. Building business relationships might take longer than you expect, but authentic and worthwhile relationships won't happen overnight.

    2. Inspire Loyalty

    Although my cats are very friendly with anyone and everyone (they never turn down a nice hand or a warm lap), they are also well aware of who feeds them, changes their litter box and picks ticks out of their fur. I get more love from them than anyone else does! They always come to me first for snuggles.

    Customers will be loyal to your business if you treat them well and offer quality products and/or services. If you genuinely care about the people supporting your business, they'll come back often, buy more and even bring in other customers. Retention is essential for business success, so take care of your patrons!

    3. Don't Seem Desperate

    Ancient Egyptians believed cats were gods -- and it's easy to see why. Unlike dogs, who adore their owners unquestioningly and subserviently, cats clearly believe that you are the pet/servant and they are the owner/monarch. But this is actually why cats are so great: they're independent and clever! As every cat owner knows, just because you want to pet your kitty at a certain moment, does not mean that they too are in the mood to cuddle. But this standoffishness only makes you want to pet them more. That's because smart kitties use reverse psychology to get what they want in the end. Because by the time they've let you pet them, you think they are doing you a favor!

    When trying to attract customers to your business, desperation is a major turnoff. Don't be too overbearing with messages like "Visit our website!" or "Buy now!" Those phrases seem too obvious and unoriginal -- of course a customer can visit your website or buy now (hopefully). Posting constant messages on social networks also seems desperate and will merely annoy customers and end up pushing them away.  

    4. Channel Your Killer Instinct

    To us, cats seem like cute and cuddly fur balls who mew adorably for catnip. But to the squirrels and birds in my neighborhood, watching one of my cats slink out of the house with narrowed eyes and twitching tail is probably like us watching the grim reaper sharpen his scythe. Outside of the house, my loveable kitties are bird slayers, squirrel assassins and chipmunk murderers, who leave little adorably gruesome "presents" for me on the front porch.

    I'm not saying you should murder your customers (that would be really, really bad for business), but there's something to be learned from how a cat pinpoints their prey, stalks it, and goes in for the kill without hesitation. Determine your business goals, and then go after them with force and focus.

    5. Check in With Those Who Feed You

    Cat's independent and curious natures mean that sometimes when you let them outside they'll disappear for a little while to do their own thing (squirrels beware!). After a few hours, it might seem like they don't love you as much as you thought and they're never coming back -- but then they always show up eventually. That's because cats know where home is; they know where food, shelter and love can be found -- with you!

    Know who your customers are and who's keeping your business afloat, and then check in with them periodically. Every business wants new customers, but don't forget about the old ones! It will differentiate you from your competition and confirm their decision to buy from you, so be proactive.

    6. Stand Out From the Crowd

    Cats are unique individuals. I've never met two cats that seemed similar; their characters vary as much as people's personalities. My male cat, Fidel, is timid, affectionate and undemanding. My female cat, Dolly, on the other hand, is daring, mischievous and playful. When I'm looking for a warm companion to nap with, I seek out Fidel. When I'm looking for a pal to kill a spider, I seek out Dolly.

    Make sure your business is somehow unique from its competition, whether that's great customer service, a one-of-a-kind product or stellar deals. Whatever you do, make your mark and articulate those exclusive capabilities concretely to your customers.

    7. Don't Get Distracted

    My cats love when I switch on the laser pointer and let them chase the red dot around the house. They could probably do it for hours (although it's bad for their eyesight to let them do it any longer than five minutes). But the red dot isn't real!

    Don't let the small stuff distract you when it comes to your business goals. The red dot is just an illusion of something worthwhile! It's hard to decide what to next sometimes, or when to decide to do nothing at all. It's easy to spread your business efforts too thin and lose sight of what's most important. So whether your goal is customer service, quality products, company impact or something else, make a decision about what matters and then don't waste your time on dead-ends.

    ProfNet, a service of PR Newswire, has helped journalists and experts connect since 1992. Writers can search the ProfNet Connect database of more than 50,000 profiles; send a ProfNet query by email to thousands of subscribers around the globe; or get timely experts and story ideas by email.

    Inside PR Newswire: Sara Campbell, Senior Audience Researcher

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012, 1:46 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Welcome to Inside PR Newswire, a series that provides a special look into the people that make up PR Newswire. We'll share their stories about what they do, how they arrived at PR Newswire, and a little about themselves as individuals when they're not at work.

    If you're wondering why we're profiling folks from PR Newswire, it's because ProfNet and ProfNet Connect are part of PR Newswire, and we'd like for you to know more about the organization and the people behind it. There's definitely more to us than just sending out press releases!

    We hope you enjoy this inside look into PR Newswire.


    Sara Campbell is a senior audience researcher at PR Newswire. So Sara, tell us -- what do you do?

    As a senior audience researcher, I am responsible for updating media contacts for the New York metro region. I have also taken the lead training several employees during their transition from Targeting Services to the Audience Research team. Our Global Media Database has over 500,000 global media contacts.


    How did you end up at PR Newswire?

    In 2008, I met PR Newswire's account manager Kelly Fuller at the PRSA Northeast District Conference in Rochester, N.Y., while I was working at a PR agency. In January 2009, I wanted to move down to the New York area to continue my career growth, and I reached out to Kelly for help. She told me about the Audience Researcher position at PR Newswire and I applied. I got the job offer and moved down to Hoboken one week later so I could commute to PR Newswire's Jersey City office. Kelly even helped me move, and we continue to be great friends to this day.


    What does a typical workday look like for you?

    I am constantly juggling different tasks. I'm responsible for updating any and all media changes in the New York metro region, and then I tweet these updates on our Twitter page (@PRNmedia).

    My position also includes handling client projects and requests. Our team is currently helping clients transition to PR Newswire's new Agility platform, which allows our clients to target, monitor and engage with traditional and social media from one platform.

    Additionally, I write for the Audience Research group's monthly newsletter for clients, MEDIAware; and I occasionally assist our MultiVu Media Relations team with writing national alerts for satellite and radio media tours.  


    How large is your team?

    The Audience Research team has 16 researchers based in the U.S., with an additional 12 researchers based in Mexico. We also have a team of researchers abroad. The U.S. and Mexico teams are led by Director of Data Services Jeff Veasey.


    What has changed since you started working at PR Newswire? What's stayed the same?

    One of the biggest changes I continue to see is how journalists and PR professionals are using social media to engage with one another more. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites are continuing to grow. Journalists and PR professionals are using these platforms to communicate, share stories and pitch ideas. As a media researcher, I try to collect as much data from these social networks to help our clients better connect with the media. We also use social media to strengthen our relationships with clients and journalists directly.

    The one thing that continues to stay the same is the way our Media Research team collaborates to complete tasks and ensure that we are providing the best service to clients.


    What's the most fun part?

    The most fun part of my job is the colleagues that I work with. We have great team chemistry and it is a pleasure to work with all of them. We work cohesively to complete projects and update our data, ensuring that our clients are receiving the most accurate information. Our team has seasoned audience researchers with many years of experience at PR Newswire; they continue to inspire and motivate me to grow professionally. 


    What do you do when you are not working?

    When I am not working, I am most likely dancing! I have been a dancer since age 3 and it is a true passion of mine. I just finished two years as an NFL cheerleader -- it was the most incredible experience! I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to dance on Sundays on the sidelines and do charity events in the community. I hope to be able to continue to perform or take dance classes.

    I also enjoy traveling. My sister and I traveled to London and Paris last April. The picture above is me in front of Victoria Palace at Piccadilly Circus in London, before seeing the musical "Billy Elliot." I hope to continue to travel the world and see new places.


    Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    In 10 years, I hope I'll have continued to grow my career in the communications/media industry. I also hope I'll be sharing my love of dance by either teaching or coaching.


    ProfNet, a service of PR Newswire, has helped journalists and experts connect since 1992. Writers can search the ProfNet Connect database of more than 50,000 profiles; send a ProfNet query by email to thousands of subscribers around the globe; or get timely experts and story ideas by email.

    Inside PR Newswire: Evelyn Tipacti

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 2:47 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Welcome to Inside PR Newswire, a series that provides a special look into the people that make up PR Newswire. We'll share their stories about what they do, how they arrived at PR Newswire, and a little about themselves as individuals when they're not at work.

    If you're wondering why we're profiling folks from PR Newswire, it's because ProfNet and ProfNet Connect are part of PR Newswire, and we'd like for you to know more about the organization and the people behind it. There's definitely more to us than just sending out press releases!

    We hope you enjoy this inside look into PR Newswire.

    Evelyn Tipacti is the community editor for ProfNet. So Evelyn, tell us -- what do you do?

    My main job as community editor is to facilitate connections between reporters and experts and help this site run smoothly. I field questions from journalists looking for experts for quotes, as well as questions from PR professionals or subject-matter experts looking to expand their reach and influence via publicity. I also manage content on ProfNet Connect, which includes writing and posting blogs, updating forums and monitoring user activity. Another part of the job includes networking with media professionals to increase site engagement.

    How did you end up at PR Newswire?

    Before (and also during) PR Newswire, I was a broadcast journalist working behind the scenes and behind the mic. I did radio in New York City and the tri-state area as a traffic, entertainment and news reporter for some well-known stations including 1010 WINS, Suave 93.1 (Spanish), Z100 and many others. I did a lot of freelance radio work, as well as voice-over work, and enjoyed it tremendously. Television is where I spent most of my broadcast career as a writer/producer for various networks including MSNBC and Court TV. I began my career at Univision WXTV 41 right out of college where I also met my husband.

    The industry was starting to change dramatically and even in the early part of the 21st century I could tell that enormous changes were going to take place. I needed to expand my skillset and when I heard about PR Newswire, I knew that it would be a great place for me to learn about other ways of working with the media instead of "just" being a member of the media. I was the editor of PR Newswire for Journalists before moving over to the media relations department and finally landing here with the ProfNet team.

    What does a typical workday look like for you?

    My days aren't as clear cut because I do so many different things: outreach, writing, booking. I frequently interact with our members on ProfNet Connect by commenting on their blog posts, and some days I write blog posts for our readers. I'm always looking for content that would interest our audience, whether it's video for the homepage or blog posts on other sites that would work well for us. I try to put my skills a journalist to use as much as I can and the fact that I get to write and interview people is a wonderful thing. I'm constantly searching for journalists to interview for our Spotlight feature and also search for guests for our #ConnectChat. Social media is a huge part of my job, too, since I tweet often (@editorev) about topics that are of interest to the media and the journalistic community. I share the information across many social media platforms including LinkedIn and Facebook, not just Twitter.

    How large is your team?

    I work with a team of five people, including myself, and the small number makes it so much easier to share ideas and work well as a team. Although we have different responsibilities, our goals are the same in making sure the department is successful and that we accomplish what we've set out to do for the year.

    What has changed since you started working at PR Newswire? What's stayed the same?

    Well, the business is no longer only about sending news releases. The company has expanded tremendously and has become known for the wealth of knowledge the staff has with regards to media, technology, public relations and social media. What has stayed the same is the great people who work here and actually form the company. It's what makes my days so enjoyable and what keeps me wanting to get up in the morning to do what I do. Nothing is worse than having to go somewhere you don't like and I don't have that problem here.

    How has social media changed your job or department?

    I couldn't do my job without social media! Tweeting is such a big part of what I do and has changed the entire media landscape. I wish Twitter had been around when I was a full-time journalist! Social media is vital to our success because of the incredible number of people on social networking sites. We are able to interact quickly and easily with our users and see what they want and what they don't like. Email was a great way to do that a long time ago, but social media is THE way to communicate now. Everyone in the group has access to our Facebook page so we promote blog posts and other items on there and we're always tweeting!

    What's the hardest part of your job?

     Finding people to interview and people to participate as guests in our #ConnectChat Twitter chats. If you're a journalist reading this, please contact me! I'd love to tell your story! If you have an idea for #ConnectChat and want to be our guest, by all means, please contact me about that, too!

    What's the most fun part?

    I love that I get to work with journalists, many of whom I've known for years and many of whom I can call close friends. The broadcast media industry is very small, and it gets smaller each day, so someone who was a journalist years ago may now be a communications director somewhere and somehow I'll find them online and we'll reconnect. Media, especially broadcast media, is in my blood. I love that I get to still interact with media people I admire and respect.

    Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

    I hope to still have a role within media, maybe even going back to working on the air. I would also love to work in the communications department at a university. Who knows? There are so many possibilities, but I am happiest working within the media industry in some form.

    What's something people would never guess about you?

    I'm a singer and have to say I'm pretty darn good. My dream was/is to perform on Broadway. Hey! Maybe that's what I'll be doing in 10 years!

    ProfNet, a service of PR Newswire, has helped journalists and experts connect since 1992. Writers can search the ProfNet Connect database of more than 50,000 profiles; send a ProfNet query by email to thousands of subscribers around the globe; or get timely experts and story ideas by email.

    How to Start a Literary Magazine

    Monday, March 26, 2012, 3:09 PM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    On third and final day of College Media Association's Spring College Media Convention (Tuesday, March 20), Jamie Schwartz and Steph Opitz hosted an hour-long informational session called "Literary Magazines 101: Seven Vital Lessons You Must Learn to Work in Publishing." Attendees of the conference were mainly student journalists and their advisers.

    Schwartz is the managing director of Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), the only U.S. organization that guides independent publishers of fiction, poetry and prose through the business of publishing. She is in charge of the New York Technical Assistance (NYTAP) Program for literary publishers.

    Opitz is the membership director of CLMP. She organizes several literary publishers conferences and also edits the CLMP Literary Press and Magazine Directory.

    Schwartz and Opitz reviewed some basic principles necessary to publish a successful literary magazine, from how to market a literary magazine's mission to building a devoted subscriber base.

    Magazine Mission: The mission for a literary magazine isn't driven by the bottom line. Instead, the mission should seek to answer the question "why?" The answer should reveal the niche audience. The more specific the mission, the better for fundraising purposes.

    Magazine Format

    • Will the magazine be in print, online or both? Try visiting a bookstore like Barnes & Noble to get an idea of how other, similar magazines are being presented.
    • These days, every magazine should be online or have an online counterpart. However, consider how much information can/should be given away for free, keeping in mind costs of the print version.

    For-Profit vs. Nonprofit

    • Will the magazine be for-profit or nonprofit? Talk to a lawyer to make the decision. The most important difference between for-profits and nonprofits is tax status.
    • There are legal services available like Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts for counseling. Also, consider applying for fiscal sponsorship via an organization like Fractured Atlas.
    • Nonprofits need a board of directors. The board should have no less than three people, but around 10-15 people is ideal.

    Building the Subscriber List

    • Building a subscriber base is the most important job when producing literary magazines.
    • Create lists of subscribers and signup sheets. Sometimes magazines will team up if they have similar audiences and trade subscription lists for marketing purposes.
    • Renewal at birth is an important tactic to build subscriber lists. When a person signs up to receive the magazine, they are immediately offered a discount for signing up for another year (or another preset amount of time). Similar options can be offered via social media.
    • When offering discounts, remember: offer the best deal first, and decrease the discount over time. Discounts twice a year is ideal.
    • Take notes on commercial magazines to see how they offer discounts and subscription renewals. The New Yorker is a great example.


    • Grants and government funding are scarce these days, although organizations like the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Lannan Foundation still provide awards, fellowships and grants to literary writers and magazines.
    • Most literary magazines rely on direct, individual fundraising.
    • Magazines do not usually make significant money from magazine distribution -- that's more for marketing -- so distribution should not be the main focus. Magazines mostly make money through subscription renewals.
    • Turning subscribers into donors is a very effective tactic to raise money. Don't just ask subscribers for money -- instead, invite them to help/join the mission by asking them to "support XYC cause."
    • Offer prizes or recognition to donors. Prizes can be costly, however, so recognition -- like shoutouts on the magazine website or via social media -- can be more valuable.
    • For high donors, send them a handwritten note or offer them a position on the board of directors to keep them involved.
    • Remember that "not spending money is the same as making money."
    • For fundraising events, try to get donated space/venue and food/beverages; find corporate sponsors and sell seats for revenue.


    ProfNet, a service of PR Newswire, has helped journalists and experts connect since 1992. Writers can search the ProfNet Connect database of more than 50,000 profiles; send a ProfNet query by email to thousands of subscribers around the globe; or get timely experts and story ideas by email.

    Image via Flickr user xoErica

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