Maria Perez

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    • Title:Director, Audience Content
    • Organization:ProfNet
    • Area of Expertise:ProfNet
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    Top 10 Reasons to Use ProfNet as a PR Professional or Expert

    Monday, May 9, 2011, 10:33 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    The top 10 reasons for PR professionals and experts to use ProfNet:

    Reputation: ProfNet is the original expert network, connecting journalists with PR professionals and expert sources since 1992.

    Reliability: ProfNet’s experienced editors carefully review all journalist queries before sending them to you, meaning you can trust the queries you receive are from legitimate outlets.

    Exposure: ProfNet can help you increase visibility for your experts and organization by linking you directly with journalists.

    Proactive Engagement: Via ProfNet’s Expert Alerts feature, you can spotlight experts who are available for interviews on timely news topics. Alerts are then sent to reporters via email, distributed via PR Newswire’s national newswire, and shared on the ProfNet Connect social network.

    Media Intelligence: By seeing what journalists are working on, you can identify trends and relevant topics in the media to maximize your PR efforts.

    Targeting: You can filter queries by hundreds of categories and subcategories to get only the query topics you want.

    Timeliness: ProfNet allows you to choose how often you want to receive queries (every half hour, hour, two hours, six hours, 12 hours or once a day), so you can respond to reporters quickly – and increase the chances of getting your expert featured.

    Connections: Profile yourself and your experts on the free ProfNet Connect social network to connect with media and other industry professionals.

    Coverage: ProfNet is the only expert network offering both reactive and proactive targeting of media by combining journalist requests with Expert Alerts and roundups.

    Links: Gain additional exposure in your news releases via ProfNet Links, via which you can link your expert profiles in press releases sent over PR Newswire.

    Top 10 Queries of the Week

    Friday, May 6, 2011, 11:35 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    Osama bin Laden’s death dominated both the news and the ProfNet query feed this week, but there was still room for more light-hearted fare. Here’s a list of my favorite queries this week:

    • Ten Things Your Cobbler Wants to Tell You. “One, stop calling me a cobbler.”
    • How to Drink Alcohol and Be Healthy About it. “Jersey Shore” cast need not reply.
    • A national women’s magazine is holding an Ugly Prom Dress Photo Contest. I would submit mine, but they didn’t have cameras back then.
    • Internet Kissing Machine asked about research to develop a simulator that will allow people to “kiss” each other via the Internet. It will feature a sidebar on virtual antibiotics.
    • Twenty-five Ways Your Laziness is Costing You … which, of course, I’ll never read because I’m too lazy.
    • A national men’s magazine was looking for A Man Who’s Less Than Well-Endowed. That makes one of us.
    • Adults Who Eschew Underpants. This only works if you’re a man who’s less than well-endowed (see above).
    • Is Your House Making You Fat? Only when I open the door … to the fridge.
    • Superhero Beauty Products. Much to my dismay, this was not about how to achieve Wonder Woman’s long lashes.
    • What Makes Such a Great Comic-Book Character? Bravery … and really long lashes.

    * Publication names have been omitted to protect the innocent.

    What were some of your favorite queries this week? Are they on this list?

    Building a Platform: How to Promote Your Blog and Yourself

    Friday, May 6, 2011, 10:01 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    I had the pleasure of attending the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference held in New York over the weekend. The conference, for writers at every level of their career, featured more than 70 sessions covering a variety of topics, such as how to score a big book deal, how to break into women’s magazines, how to write white papers, and more. I was able to attend several of the sessions, and will recap them here over the next few days.


    When Jen Singer launched the MommaSaid.net community for mothers in 2003, she was promoting a new medium with old media, so she had to think creatively to build her platform and become the go-to person for media outlets looking for a quotable source.

    “I had platform envy,” she joked, referring to the impressive list of credits she would see in other writers’ bios. She knew that in order to get publishers to take a chance on the books she wanted to write, she would need to build her own platform.

    First, she signed up for ProfNet and started answering leads, becoming the go-to person for last-minute quotes. “I give good quote,” she said, “and you should be able to, too.”

    She also went against traditional wisdom and pitched Woman’s Day with an essay. While it wasn’t picked up, the editor told Singer she wrote “with flair,” which encouraged her to keep trying.

    When her first book came out in 2004, TV outlets started calling. CBS’ “The Early Show” was looking for “desperate housewives,” and Singer’s friend suggested they contact her.

    Soon after, Pull-Ups asked her to be their “potty-training partner.” They provided her with media training and sent her on a TV tour all over Canada, which was a great learning experience.

    In the beginning, she did television, print and radio interviews for Pull-Ups. Now she finds herself answering potty-training questions on Facebook and Twitter, and even hosting Twitter parties.

    “You have to learn how to do it,” she said. “This is where it’s headed.”

    In 2007, an editor from HCI Books wanted Singer to create a book based on MommaSaid.net. Later that year, she discovered she had stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and had to finish parts of the book in a hospital oncology floor.

    “I knew the promotions [of the book] would be up to me,” said Singer, who continued working on promoting and building her platform.

    She was an early Twitter adopter, and had been following @todaysmom on Twitter for several months. She saw they were looking for a mother who had been bullied online. “The next day, I’m dusting off the coffee table for the ‘Today’ show,” she said.

    Singer offered tips for bloggers looking to promote themselves and their blogs:

    • Learn social media. “As much as you might hate it, it’s something you need to do.”
    • Learn to speak in sound bites.
    • Focus on the writing. “Save journalism. It’s a great time to be a writer.”
    • “Co-ompetition”: “Be in cahoots with your competition. Recommend their books. Comment on their sites. Retweet their tweets.” Then, when you launch a book, blog, etc., you have a group of people who will help you promote it.

    “One-way things don’t work for bloggers,” she added. “Ask questions, share stories, share feedback.

    [To view my previous recaps from the conference, see Breaking into Finance Markets, Writing for Women’s Magazines and Beating Blog Burnout.]

    Breaking into Business and Finance Markets

    Thursday, May 5, 2011, 11:48 AM [General]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    I had the pleasure of attending the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference held in New York over the weekend. The conference, for writers at every level of their career, featured more than 70 sessions covering a variety of topics, such as how to score a big book deal, how to break into women’s magazines, how to write white papers, and more. I was able to attend several of the sessions, and will recap them here over the next few days.

     

    You don’t need an MBA to write about finance and business, but you do need the right approach. In this session, “Breaking in: Business & Finance Markets,” editors from three major financial news outlets shared insight into what they cover, what they’re looking for, and how to get – and keep – their attention.

    Marcia Layton Turner, an accomplished freelance writer and best-selling author, moderated the panel, which featured:

    Following are highlights from the panelists:

    Ellen Cannon, QuinStreet

    QuinStreet, Inc., owns websites covering financial services, education, medical, home services, B2B and other topics, and is a publicity traded company (Nasdaq: QNST).

    Cannon oversees the financial services sites, including CardRatings.com, MoneyRates.com, HSH.com, Insure.com, Insurance.com and CarInsurance.com.

    For 12 years, QuinStreet had primarily been keyword-driven, but has changed to reported articles to compete with top journalism providers on the Web, said Cannon. It has also partnered with top sites such as MSN.com and Huffington Post, offering even more opportunities for freelancers.

    Cannon said her challenge has been to find journalists to write interesting, informative, entertaining stories. “It’s easy to write savings stories,” she said, “but we’re looking or much more actionable, nitty-gritty stories, so it’s really important to understand the topic.”

    Cannon suggested some good places to learn about financial information, including the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism,  which helps writers find personal finance angles in any beat, and Poynter Institute, which offers online courses, especially for multimedia journalism.

    The latter is especially helpful to Cannon, who said she uses a lot of slideshows. “We’re always looking for stories like that,” she said.

    Not all QuinStreet sites have managing editors, so writers can send pitches to her and she’ll find a place for it.

    Laura Lorber, Entrepreneur.com

    Entrepreneur readers consist of four primary groups:

    • Small-business owners who have been in business for several years. These readers are seeking innovative strategies to grow their business but are also interested in new business ideas and opportunities, as well as current issues that affect their companies.
    • People who are either dreaming of starting their own business or have a business that’s less than 2 years old. These individuals don’t necessarily have a lot of money, so they’re looking for shoestring startup ideas and low-cost ways to start and run their businesses. They need how-to advice, articles that keep them on top of business trends and motivational articles to get (and stay) psyched up.
    • Home-based business owners. These readers need information unique to the home-based entrepreneur. Like the entrepreneurs described above, they’re seeking information that will help them run their businesses better.
    • People interested in purchasing a franchise or business opportunity. They want accurate, reliable, unbiased information from a source they can trust. They want to learn what they need to know before plunking down any cash – as well as where to find the cash to plunk down.

    Before pitching a story to Entrepreneur, be sure to read a variety of the articles on the site so you can tailor your pitches to meet content needs. Lorber said she rejects many of the queries she receives because the subject matter in no way matches what she’s looking for.

    She added that Entrepreneur doesn’t typically write profiles of specific business owners unless their story warrants it, so there needs to be a compelling reason to write about an entrepreneur. For example, it can’t just be that he/she is achieving record-breaking sales. Readers want to know why they’re achieving record-breaking sales.

    “Everything has to have a takeaway,” she added. “It has to be something [readers] can put to work immediately in their business.”

    Hot topics of interest:

    • Technology: how tech can help small-business owners/entrepreneurs run their business better.
    • Franchising: “It’s a peculiar niche,” said Lorber, “but one we want to cover more.”
    • Money: finding financing, cash flow, getting paid on time.
    • Finding customers.

    Lorber also detailed some of what she looks for in pitches:

    • Does she know the writer? “It’s really important to me to know and trust the writer,” she said. “My advice: Do a lot of networking and try to get to know editors in person. And don’t be afraid to drop names of people who can vouch for you.”
    • Have an online clip file. It can be on WordPress, Twitter. “It doesn’t have to be fancy,” said Lorber.
    • Be to the point. “If you don’t get me in the pitch, the article won’t work for me,” she said.

    All queries for online articles should be sent only via email to pitches@entrepreneur.com. All magazine queries should be emailed to queries@entrepreneur.com. Allow a minimum of six weeks for a response; no phone calls.

    Brendan Sheehan, NACD

    NACD recently named Sheehan to the new role of editorial director. The former executive editor at Corporate Secretary magazine will oversee production and editorial content for NACD’s bimonthly magazine, NACD Directorship, and the NACD news website, Directorship.com.

    Sheehan said the magazine’s audience consists of CEOs, corporate directors and chairmen, and covers what goes into running and overseeing a corporation. Because it’s such a specific niche, his biggest challenge is finding writers who really understand that audience.

    Sheehan offered the following tips for pitching:

    • Include why the story is important. “The ‘So what?’ factor is missing in so many pitches I get,” said Sheehan.
    • Look at the website. “Don’t pitch what’s already on there,” he said. “Instead, give an alternate idea or slant on the topic.”
    • Don’t be afraid of taking a risk and being a little “out there.” Example: With businesses becoming more global, how do they protect their CEOs when traveling abroad? “It doesn’t have to be a straight business story,” he added.
    • Don’t send three-page pitch letters. He gets 25-30 pitch letters per week.
    • Don’t write the story in your pitch; give him bullet points.
    • Show him you’ve researched what you’re writing about.
    • Don’t say you have great attention to detail and meet deadlines. “You shouldn’t be in this business if you don’t.”

    Q&A

    Q: What kind of background do you want to see from freelancers when pitching?

    Lorber: “Mine is very much a generalist publication, so it helps to know what you’re writing about. But you don’t necessarily need to have worked at Bloomberg to pitch me.”

    Cannon: “Good writers, good reporters that are accurate, creative and can write stories in a way that will interest the audience. I judge it by the creativity of the writing and the accuracy. (We don’t have the staff to be meticulously fact-checking.) It helps to be creative with a topic we read about over and over.”

    Sheehan: “It does help if you can say you’ve written for The Economist, but you can say you’ve written for Home and Garden. It shows me you can write, you can take editorial direction. Also, passion is important. Pitch to magazines you like to read, because that’s what you like reading.”

    Q: What are your freelance rates?

    Sheehan: “Rates vary from 85 cents to $1 a word, depending on the length of the article and other factors. Also, we’re moving to a model of per-story fee. I find per-word fee doesn’t really work for online.”

    Cannon: “We range from 10 cents a word to 50 cents a word. I know those are low rates, but we can make up for it in volume.”

    Lorber: “We pay on a per-story basis: $400 for articles of 600-700 words; $50-$200 for blog posts.”

    Q: Does Directorship.com do tech stories?

    Sheehan: “Technology is very important to our audience, especially from a risk management perspective -- how it impacts a company’s finances, whether the company can be sued, etc. We don’t do much on social media (no Twitter, etc.).”

    Q: How do you feel about pitches with multiple ideas?

    Lorber: “I generally prefer one idea per email, but it doesn’t bother me if I get more.”

    Cannon: “Since I’m in the volume business, I’m interested in multiple pitches at the same time.”

    Sheehan: “I prefer one, and I also like to have a time frame on how long it would take you [to get the article done] and who you would interview – not necessarily names, but types of people.”

    Q: Are there any other resources you can recommend?

    Cannon: “Besides the Reynolds Center and Poynter, I also recommend the Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW) courses.”

    Lorber: “It’s really important to read the Wall Street Journal every day, and the front page and business section of the New York Times. Two other sites, especially for technology stories, are Mashable and TechCrunch, because they do cover articles about tech angles for small businesses. Also, use Twitter to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s going on online. We like our writers to socialize their stories, so if you’re not on Twitter, get on Twitter.”

    Sheehan: “Go to the SEC website once a week. Search for Richard Ferlauto – he runs a division that relates directly to directors. Also, look into going to trade conferences – they usually let journalists go for free.”

    Q: How do you feel about freelancers writing for competing websites?

    Sheehan: “I don’t mind it, and don’t really have a choice, given how few writers know our market. But just let me know when you pitch.”

    Cannon: “I don’t have a problem as long as they’re not pitching me the same stories.”

    Lorber: “I don’t have a problem with it unless the writer is easily identifiable as writing for that site.”

    Q: Is Entrepreneur.com open to column pitches?

    Lorber: “Yes, we are. We’re always looking at our column roster. People come and go. Send a pitch fleshing out what it would be about, as well as an introductory column and 2-3 ideas for the column.”

    Q: How would you like to be pitched?

    All three panelists agreed they prefer email pitches:

    Lorber: llorber@entrepreneur.com

    Sheehan: bsheehan@nacdonline.org

    Cannon: ecannon@quinstreet.com

     

    [For more from ASJA 2011, read my Beating Blog Burnout and Writing for Women's Magazines recaps.]

    Writing for Women's Magazines

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011, 2:30 PM [General]
    4.1 (2 Ratings)

    I had the pleasure of attending the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference held in New York over the weekend. The conference, for writers at every level of their career, featured more than 70 sessions covering a variety of topics, such as how to score a big book deal, how to break into women’s magazines, how to write white papers, and more. I was able to attend several of the sessions, and will recap them here over the next few days.


    Women’s magazines are some of the most sought-after clips in the industry, but how do you get your foot in the door and score a byline from a top-tier magazine?

    This session, “Breaking in: Women’s Markets,” looked at what two major women’s magazines look for in article pitches – and what to do once the pitch is accepted.

    The panel was moderated by Gina Roberts-Grey, a freelance writer who has written scores of articles for women’s print and online magazines, including Glamour, Better Homes & Gardens, Woman’s Day, Redbook, Self, Essence, LifeScript.com and many others. Rounding out the panel were Lynya Floyd, senior editor, Essence; and Celia Shatzman, associate editor, Family Circle.

    Following are highlights from the panel:

     

    Q: What are each of your markets currently looking for, and what’s the best way for someone to break in?

    Floyd: We’re obviously looking for something that comes through the lens of an African-American woman, specifically women’s health. Start with smaller pieces – the “Fit and Fab” column, a fitness column, nutrition pieces – and work your way up to bigger things. Whatever new spin you can put to those stories is fantastic. Why is this important to African-American women, and how do you spin it so it’s different? You can spin a story three or four different ways. If it doesn’t work for one magazine, you can tweak it and pitch it to another.

    Shatzman: We cover a broad variety of features aimed at moms of teens and tweens. Toddler-related news is not of interest. Start out with a one-page column and work your way up from there. The best columns for a new writer are the “Good Works” and “Pets” columns. What sets anyone apart is something really new.

     

    Q: What percentage of articles is contributed by freelance writers?

    Floyd: The vast majority (85-90 percent) are freelance pieces. Stories with celebrities or real people are usually done in-house.

    Shatzman: At Family Circle, the beauty, fashion and home articles, as well as columns, are done in-house. For the rest, about 75 percent is from freelancers.

     

    Q: Do references impact who you go with?

    Shatzman: They go a very long way. I’ll definitely take a few extra minutes to read the pitch.

    Floyd: I couldn’t agree more. There’s so  little time in the day. If someone puts a reference in the subject line, or in the first few sentences, it helps. And use a subject line that’s headline-worthy, and flesh out the story. Also, persistence does work for me. I will remember your name when I’m assigning stories. “Wow, she has some well fleshed-out ideas and really wants to get in the magazine.”

     

    Q: Do you prefer pitches of letters of intent (LOIs)?

    Shatzman: It depends on the letter. Include a couple of paragraphs – introduce yourself, what you’ve written for, what your interest is.

    Floyd: For me, LOIs don’t make a huge impact. What I’m more interested in is your ideas and if you’re the right person to write the story, and I can usually get that from the query letter. Add personal experiences – anything to let me know what makes you the right person to write the story.

     

    Q: Can you tell us what you consider a good, fleshed-out pitch?

    Shatzman: Write the beginning of the pitch like the beginning of the article. Make it catchy. Two to three paragraphs is enough. Include possible interview subjects, studies, what makes it timely. Explain why you’re the right person to write the story. If it’s your first time pitching me, include what other things you’ve written in this area.

    Floyd: One page will suffice, but remember we’re pitching to other people, too, so include as much information as possible. You want to make sure I have  the answer to any questions I’m going to get from my editor. Make me look good.

     

    Q: What are some mistakes writers make when trying to establish a relationship with a new editor?

    Shatzman: My biggest pet peeve: Your email needs to be professional, especially with the way you address someone. Err on the side of formality.

    Floyd: When someone misspells my name, or when someone pitches me for an area/column I don’t handle. Also, an overly generic pitch -- it really has to be specific to our magazine. If you have a website with your clips, definitely include that in your pitch. Also, I am not a phone person. I do 90 percent of what I need to do by email.

     

    Q: Regarding follow-ups, what’s a good time frame, and how often?

    Shatzman: I welcome follow-ups. It sometimes takes months to assign an article because I have to pitch to my editor, who has to pitch to her editor, etc. If an editor says, “I’ll tell you in a month,” wait for the month before following up. I also don’t like phone calls; email only.

    Floyd: We have a two-month turnaround for pitches. Please don’t follow up the next day. I know it’s hard, but it’s a process and it does take time. I don’t mind if you include a deadline. After that, you can move on if you haven’t heard from me.

    Shatzman: When you do follow up, make sure you include your original pitch. We get so many pitches, we can’t keep track.

     

    Q: If you do reject a pitch, should the writer pitch another article right away or wait?

    Floyd: Span out your pitches. It shouldn’t be something you can crank out in a day. To me, that means you haven’t really tailored it to my magazine. You can pitch again, but wait a few weeks and flesh it out.

    Shatzman: Take the time to tailor it to the magazine. And remember, I don’t always have the time to tailor a response to everyone. I might just write back with, “No, thanks.” Don’t take it personally. I just don’t always have the time to give specific feedback.

     

    Q: Do you mind if writers ask for feedback on a pitch that’s rejected?

    Shatzman: It depends on the stage the pitch has gotten to. If it has gotten to a higher stage – I pitched it to my editor, who pitched it to her editor – I might spend a few extra minutes to tell you why it didn’t work.

    Floyd: If you want feedback, you have to be open to feedback that might not be nice to hear.

     

    Q: Do you have to be a woman to write for women’s magazines?

    Floyd: You don’t have to be a woman and you don’t have to be African-American to write for Essence.

    Shatzman: If you have a great idea, we don’t care who it comes from.

     

    Q: Do you like it when writers suggest extra elements for a story, such as video, sidebars, etc.?

    Shatzman: Any time you add extra elements, it shows you’ve done your research.

    Floyd: It helps.

     

    Q: Once a writer has the assignment, what are some mistakes that make you think, “Never again”?

    Shatzman: Being late is not a good thing. If you’re going to be late, always ask for an extension vs. going MIA. Also, turning in a completely different story than was originally pitched. If something changes, keep in constant contact with the editor.

    Floyd: 1) Turning in a story late. There has to be a serious reason. If you know it’s going to be late, tell me ASAP. If you hand it in early, we’ll totally assign to you again because then we’ll know you’re a writer we can go to in a pinch. 2) When we ask for revisions, read the suggestions and make changes. Ultimately, 15 other people will have an idea about the story. Go with the flow. Be flexible. Don’t fight us on it.

     

    Q: Are revisions commonplace?

    Shatzman: There are always revisions. Always expect them. Editors change their minds. Sometimes it’s just a handful of questions.

    Floyd: It runs the gamut, but unless you’re Maya Angelou, there will probably be some revisions.

     

    Q: In what format do you want clips?

    Floyd: Please do not send me attachments. Links are at the top of the list.

    Shatzman: It’s also good to include two clips from the same magazine. It shows the editor there went back to you.

     

    Q: How do you want to be pitched?

    Shatzman: Email: celia.shatzman@meredith.com

    Floyd: Email: lfloyd@essence.com

     

    [To read my first installment of recaps from ASJA 2011, "Beating Blog Burnout," click here.]


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