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 Gregory Freeman, who focuses on writing for the healthcare industry and writing narrative nonfiction books. Freeman earned his degree from the University of Georgia before working for The Associated Press. He was also executive editor at a publisher in Atlanta before transitioning to freelance writing.
Greg, for those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about the topics you cover?
I’m a freelance writer focusing mostly on healthcare administration. Some topics I commonly cover are risk management, malpractice, patient safety, peer review, quality improvement, and health insurance plans. I also am the author of seven books, all narrative nonfiction.
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?
This is selfish but it’s true: the best thing you can do is to make my job easier. Send the information I need to determine if your source meets my needs, be responsive, and do most of the legwork for setting up phone interviews and obtaining documents.
As for getting it wrong, that’s usually sending me responses that are very thinly veiled pitches for a company or product. I write mostly for subscription-only, no-advertising publications that cost hundreds of dollars a year, so I can’t do puff pieces and promotional stories for a product or company. But if you give me content I can use, like how one of your clients achieved something measurable or advice on a topic from your CEO, I probably can work in a discreet mention of the company or product. It won’t be anything overtly promotional, but I’ll still get your name in front of a very targeted audience. If you as the PR pro understand this, please make sure your client does too -- before I start interviewing him and get only promotional talk.
Is there anything PR reps can do to set themselves apart from other respondents?
Be quick to respond, understand the query before responding, and try to minimize email back-and-forth as much as possible.
Are you open to cold calls/pitches? If so, what are your guidelines for those?
I don’t mind receiving as many pitches by email as you want to send, but please don’t call with a pitch.
Do you use social media, either to connect with people or to promote your articles?
No. The publishers do, but I don’t.
What’s your favorite or most memorable story you’ve written?
That’s hard to say, but I’ve done some investigative pieces I was proud of and which won awards. One was about shady people casing hospitals and asking questions about security, apparently looking for weak spots to hit with or during a terrorist attack.