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.
Grace Lavigne is a senior editor of ProfNet. So Grace, tell us -- what do you do?
ProfNet is a service that connects journalists with expert sources.
Editing requests from journalists looking for sources is my main responsibility. I proofread, format and code these queries by topic for immediate distribution to ProfNet members. I also compile roundups of experts on trending news stories, respond to user questions and comments, and attend and blog about relevant industry events.
A chunk of my time is spent writing and researching two weekly columns: "Dear Gracie," which features advice experts on PR and media issues; and "Grammar Hammer," which makes the rules of American English easy and fun to learn.
Additionally, I rotate with two other ProfNet editors hosting the biweekly #ConnectChat, which is a discussion on Twitter featuring an expert guest on anything from media and PR to social networking and branding.
How did you end up at PR Newswire?
I started applying for media jobs right after I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, in the fall of 2009 with a degree in Linguistics. During my job search, I found a listing for an "assistant editor" position with PR Newswire, and thought the description was right up my alley -- so I applied!
What does a typical workday look like for you?
ProfNet opens at 8 a.m. EDT, so I'm at my desk by then with coffee in hand. I always edit the "morning queries" first (those are the queries that were submitted by journalists overnight when ProfNet is closed). After those queries are taken care of, I focus on other activities like compiling Experts Alerts (which are basically the reverse of regular ProfNet queries -- experts pitching to reporters), writing "Dear Gracie" and "Grammar Hammer," updating content on ProfNet Connect (like the homepage), answering calls and more. I edit queries as we receive them throughout the day too.
How large is your team?
ProfNet comprises four people including myself, but we rely on PR Newswire's product advocates, PRNJ employees and others for support.
What has changed since you started working at PR Newswire?
When I first started working at Harborside in Jersey City, PR Newswire employees were located on the non-window side of the building. About a year after I was hired, PR Newswire moved to the window side (score!) with a newly furnished office (double score!).
Additionally, for the first six months that I worked for ProfNet, ProfNet Connect was in the works and hadn't launched yet, so I didn't have any blogging responsibilities at that point.
How has social media changed your job or department?
Social media has been an incredible avenue for ProfNet to communicate with users directly and quickly. For example, if journalists need sources by the end of the business day (which we consider "urgent"), we can tweet the journalist's request out to @ProfNet's 18,000 followers.
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in particular have been great ways to promote content from ProfNet Connect, including blog posts, featured experts, job openings and more.
What is the most important lesson you've learned on the job?
To always ask questions! This lesson has served me well throughout my entire life, but has been particularly valuable to me here at ProfNet. By asking questions, especially about issues that are not "need to know," I've learned about the back stories, back systems and back roads that make me a more efficient and aware worker. You can never know too much!
What motivates you to do your best?
Knowing that journalists, PR professionals and experts rely on ProfNet to do their jobs and be successful keeps me focused. When we get positive feedback from ProfNet users, it's a great feeling that keeps me going!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I hope I'll still be editing and writing, and somehow involved in media.
What do you do when you're not working?
I love reading (currently on "For Whom the Bell Tolls"), going to the gym and yoga class, lounging at the beach, watching horror movies, complaining about politics (lol), volunteering and relaxing with friends!
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 emai