In our Journalist Spotlight Q&A series, PR Newswire for Journalists and ProfNet users share their insight and advice on how PR professionals and experts can improve communications and increase their chances of being featured in their publications.
In this edition, we catch up with Amanda Baltazar, a freelance writer for a variety of trade publications.
Amanda writes about nearly everything -- except perhaps politics. A few of her trade and industry specialties include restaurants, food, beverages, retail, and health. She also writes essays for consumer publications. You can view more about her on her website: www.chaterink.com.
Amanda, for those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about the topics you cover?
I write almost exclusively for B2B magazines, focusing on food/beverages/restaurants/bars and retail.
You’ve used ProfNet for a long time, so I’m sure you've gotten a lot of replies to your queries over the years. What are PR pros doing right – and what are they getting wrong?
There’s not really a formula for this, but when PRs write to ask who I’m writing for, I don’t have the time to write back if I’ve been inundated with responses, so that may lose them a placement for that article.
Some PRs take too long in their initial email to get to the information I need, with paragraphs of irrelevant detail before actually answering my pitch; and some don’t provide enough information for me to figure out if the pitch is relevant.
On the plus side, some PRs seem to read my mind and send the perfect amount of detail, and are to the point. They even include links in case I need to research more before contacting them back.
Another winner is when PRs say they can put me in touch with their client within X number of days (or whatever) so I’m confident they’ll actually come through, and some go above and beyond, offering up their client who also knows a certain other person that they could probably get on the phone, too.
Is there anything PRs can do to set themselves apart from other respondents?
Follow-ups help. Sometimes I go through my responses and contact the five (or however many) PRs for sources, but at some point one or more may fall through. If someone happens to follow up at around that time, I may just contact that PR rather than rake through the whole list again. The offer of artwork can often seal a deal, too.
Are you open to cold calls/pitches? If so, what are your guidelines for those?
No, I’m not a fan of these because I am never short of material for story ideas.
Do you use social media, either to connect with people or to promote your articles?
No, but I have a personal list of sources I sometimes contact for stories.
What’s your favorite or most memorable story you’ve written?
I don’t have a favorite but I do have favorite sources, who I have developed a relationship with over years. Or other sources that I have just met and we have an amazing conversation. As someone who works from home, those connections go a long way towards making this job memorable.
Anything else you’d like to add about how sources can best work with you?
Every now and then a source is a dud and it’s usually not because he or she doesn’t know their topic. They just can’t explain it. I had this happen recently and I was pretty sure the guy had some fascinating things to tell me about his kitchen but I just couldn’t get the details out of him and ended up not including him in the story. I asked the PR for someone else from the restaurant, but unfortunately he was unable to make it happen. The key is for PRs to make sure their source is personable and can speak eloquently about the topic.