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 Harry Bruinius, a staff writer and editor for the Christian Science Monitor.
Originally from Chi-town and now based in Manhattan, Bruinius has been writing for the Monitor since 1999 and covers politics and other regional news.
His first book, “Better For All the World: The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America’s Quest for Racial Purity,” is a narrative history of the eugenics movement in the United States, tracing the lives of the victims of forced sterilization and the men and women who pioneered history’s first program of genetic engineering. The book was a finalist for the 2002 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award, placed on Booklist “Editor’s Choice 2006” and named one of New York Public Library’s “25 Books to Remember from 2006.”
Bruinius also moonlights as an adjunct professor of journalism at Hunter College in NYC, where he also teaches religion. His courses include Journalism as Literature, Religion and Film, and The Problem of Evil.
For those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about the topics you cover?
I am a political reporter, and I focus primarily on religion, law enforcement and, most recently, immigration. We are a national publication, so our focus is broad. We also tend to focus on analytical stories rather than breaking news, so I take a look at various modes of thought within with various political issues, trying to foster greater understanding between people of varying cultural and political backgrounds.
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?
It's always helpful when a PR pro includes a brief, quotable blurb from their clients in response to one of my queries. And I appreciate even more a longer, detailed response, which makes me more likely to either contact that person or even quote from the responses they take the time write and send to me. A conversation is always preferred, of course, but sometimes deadline pressures make emailed responses enormously helpful.
Clear links to bio pages, summaries of qualifications, as well as detailed areas of expertise and past research are also critically helpful in sorting out which experts are most relevant to a given story. I keep a detailed email filing system, organized by topics and subtopics, which include all high-quality responses I get from PR professionals, and I refer to these files whenever I begin a new story.
Are you open to cold calls/pitches? If so, what are your guidelines for those?
Generally, no. I get a lot of press releases in my inbox already, and getting more of these would not be helpful per se. But, you never know when or if a particular pitch could lead to a great story.
Do you use social media, either to connect with people or to promote your articles?
I do, on both Facebook and Twitter.
What’s your favorite or most memorable story you’ve written?