Maria Perez

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    • Member Type(s): Content Publisher
      Expert
      Communications Professional
      Media - Freelancer
      Media - Broadcast
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      Media - Student Journalist
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    • Title:Director, Audience Content
    • Organization:ProfNet
    • Area of Expertise:ProfNet
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    Journalist Spotlight: Timothy Gower, Freelance Writer

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 9:15 AM [Journalist Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    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 Timothy Gower, an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in more than two dozen major magazines and newspapers, including Prevention, Reader’s Digest, Esquire, Men’s Health, and the New York Times. He is also the author or co-author of a dozen books.

    Timothy, for those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about the topics you cover?

    I primarily write about health and medicine, though in the last few years I have done a fair amount of work in personal finance -- which is interesting, since I can’t balance a checkbook.

    What are PR pros doing right – and what are they getting wrong – when they reply to your queries?

    I deal with a lot of media representatives at hospitals and medical schools, and on the whole, they are wonderful -- responsive and accommodating, and usually able to put me on the phone with the doctors and scientists I need to interview within a reasonable amount of time. Every now and then, a PR person will promise more than he or she can deliver -- that is, “I’ll get someone from rheumatology for you to interview by Tuesday,” then they just disappear. If I’m counting on that interview and it doesn’t materialize, I’m in trouble. And I may not trust your promises in the future.

    Also, please don’t give me the same doctor every time I call for a comment, since I can’t quote the same person over and over, from one story to the next. (You might be surprised how often this happens.)

    This is a little thing, but sending email queries with a subject line written to give the appearance that I have already responded -- that is, it reads “re: new therapy…” or whatever -- is silly and fools no one. Journalists joke about how desperate that seems.

    Is there anything PR reps can do to set themselves apart from other respondents?

    Know what kinds of topics I cover and send appropriate pitches. I believe a lot of PR agencies use very outdated materials to determine a journalist’s area of coverage. Years ago, I did a tiny bit of food writing, but that didn’t last long. Yet I still get pitches about hot new products. I guess I checked a box on a form once saying I write about food. But that was many years ago. I know there are clearinghouses that collect and sell this information about journalists. They contact me for updates on occasion, which I’m happy to provide.

    Also, when you send out a story pitch, proofread it first. Typos and poor grammar are distracting and sap the power of your message.

    Are you open to cold calls/pitches? If so, what are your guidelines for those?

    By email, yes. By phone, no. If I wrote for a daily or weekly publication, I might be more amenable to phone pitches, but I tend to have very long deadlines, so I don’t need a steady stream of story ideas to rely on. Furthermore, most of the story topics I end up writing about are either generated in-house at the magazines I contribute to regularly, or they come from my own research.

    Do you use social media, either to connect with people or to promote your articles?

    I post links to my stories on Facebook and Twitter. And I have had modest success using both to find interviewees.

    What’s your favorite or most memorable story you’ve written?

    I guess you could say the first and last. The first major feature I wrote as a freelancer came about when I was trying to break in at the Boston Phoenix, the dearly departed alternative weekly, back in my 20s. I called Sy Sperling of the Hair Club for Men -- which advertised relentlessly on TV at the time -- and said I wanted to interview him. He said sure and gave me a wonderful 45-minute interview. I turned that into a query and the Phoenix assigned a 3000-word feature about the Hair Club phenomenon, by far longer than anything I had done to date. That story got me hired by the Phoenix. I eventually left to freelance and have written thousands of stories since.

    The last major feature I wrote was about the first penis transplant performed in the United States. Yes, that one was memorable, too, for many reasons.

    Anything else you’d like to add?

    I value and appreciate the work that PR professionals do. The only thing I’ll add is that one of the biggest challenges I face is finding “real people” to tell their stories when I write about a medical condition. I highly value media reps who can help me in that regard. Get me a patient and I’ll quote your doctor.

    Journalist Spotlight: Gregory Freeman, Freelance Writer

    Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 1:07 PM [Journalist Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    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.

    Journalist Spotlight: Myrna Haskell, Feature Writer, Columnist and Author

    Thursday, February 9, 2017, 11:35 AM [Journalist Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    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 Myrna Haskell, an author, columnist, feature writer and speaker.

    Haskell’s features have appeared in Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, American Fitness, and many other publications across the United States and internationally. She is also a columnist for several regional publications, and is the author of “LIONS and TIGERS and TEENS: Expert advice and support for the conscientious parent just like you(Unlimited Publishing, LLC).

    In addition, Haskell is co-founder and managing editor of Sanctuary, an online women’s magazine with a focus on women in the arts, women humanitarians and women’s health. She has also been a keynote speaker for nonprofit conferences supporting parents and education, discussing issues such as leadership, volunteerism and parent involvement in community schools.

    Myrna, for those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about the topics you cover?

    For my freelance work, I write columns and feature-length pieces on the following topics: children's health and development, parenting, parenting teens, special needs, education, women's issues, women's health, etc. For Sanctuary, the magazine I co-founded and am managing editor for, I cover the following topics: interviews with humanitarians and community leaders, women's health and artist profiles.

    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?

    I usually receive quick responses -- within 1-3 days. This is great, since I am often up against a quick deadline. I've had pretty good luck. Occasionally, I might be told that there is someone, only to find out later that this person is no longer available. This is rare, though. I like to work with folks who deliver. I have an impeccable reputation with experts, and I always follow up with links to the articles. I expect the same professionalism in return, and I usually get it. ProfNet has been very valuable.

    Is there anything PR reps can do to set themselves apart from other respondents?

    Rapid response time is key. However, I can tell if someone hasn't spent enough time understanding the specifics in a query. If the match is spot-on, you know that they really thought about what you were looking for. Again, I have had really good luck here. I've found that most PR reps are very good at what they do.

    Are you open to cold calls/pitches? If so, what are your guidelines for those?

    I don't mind an email pitch. However, I've got a full plate, so I have to be selective. I have used material/sources from PR folks that send emails to me on occasion and when something fits with upcoming editorial needs. So, if I say I'll keep the information on file, I mean it. You might hear from me a month or two later when I can utilize the topic/expert.

    Do you use social media, either to connect with people or to promote your articles?

    Yes. I use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for both personal accounts (for my freelancing work) and accounts for Sanctuary. They are definitely great networking tools. We also just started an Instagram account for Sanctuary.

    What’s your favorite or most memorable story you’ve written?

    I don't have one specific favorite. Some of my Lions and Tigers and Teens column series pieces were really fun to write. I often drew from personal experience with my own teens, but I also had hundreds of other parents writing in with tips. This was a very popular column. I think that some of the articles I wrote for special-needs parents were also important. I've interviewed some phenomenal women for Sanctuary as well.

    Any other advice?

    The relationships you build with editors and industry experts are so integral to your career. Over time, you build a reputation and people share your name and your articles. When you are not on staff with a publication, this is so very important. Editors want to build trust with their contributing writers. I love both sides of the industry -- writing and editing. I think it's important to have an understanding of both an editor's perspective and a writer's perspective. After all, you are a team.

    Journalist Spotlight: Keith Loria, Freelance Journalist

    Tuesday, January 31, 2017, 12:48 PM [Journalist Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

    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 Keith Loria, an award-winning journalist who has written for major newspapers and magazines for close to 20 years, on topics as diverse as sports, business and healthcare.

    A graduate of the University of Miami, Loria started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at Rinkside, BCA Insider and Soap Opera Digest. You can view some of his recent writing at keithloria.contently.com.

    Keith, for those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about the topics you cover?

    You name it, I write about it: sports, entertainment, produce, real estate, healthcare, agriculture, makeup, biofuel, pets and even pens! My client list is as diverse as can be.

    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 such a great way to get experts and most of the PR pros are great. They are timely, provide great details in introduction emails and I always like when they include an initial quote to show what the source is thinking. When it comes to doing things wrong, some recommend a source and then come back to you and say they aren’t available (it would help if they only offered people who were), and some clearly haven’t read all the particulars and offer sources that don’t fit.

    Is there anything PR reps can do to set themselves apart from other respondents?

    Those that include bios of their clients and explain why they are an expert or a good source for the story are always better received than those who just give a name and company. Those that offer up times their person is available in the initial response also gets the ball rolling much faster.

    Are you open to cold calls/pitches? If so, what are your guidelines for those?

    Yes, as long as they aren’t coming in from the same person every day. Some of the publications I write for accept story ideas, so I let the PR people know this when I deal with them. If they want to send an email with ideas, I prefer they only do it every once in a while.

    Do you use social media, either to connect with people or to promote your articles?

    I have learned the value of using social media to find sources in the past few years, especially Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Recently I was able to use Yelp to find some sources, so you never know where you’re going to find someone who can help. I promote stories on Facebook and Twitter mostly, but not for every story as I don’t have the time to do it all.

    What’s your favorite or most memorable story you’ve written?

    The first story I ever had published was about the history of African-American characters in the funny pages, which I wrote while in graduate school at the University of Miami and was published by the Associated Press (where I was an intern at the time). I was able to interview Peanuts creator Charles Schulz for the story, and it remains my favorite interview of all time. Most of my favorite stories involve profiles I’ve done on heroes from my younger days, including William Shatner, Adam West, Aaron Spelling, Peter Frampton and Mark Messier.

    Anything else you’d like to add?

    I had a great mentor at UM’s grad program in Tsitsi Wakhisi, and thanks to her and all the great professors at the college, I am now able to work from home, can spend time coaching my kids’ teams or just playing with them since I set my own hours, and I have written about all the subjects I ever dreamed of. It’s a great career.

    Journalist Spotlight: Alaina Levine, Freelance Journalist and Author

    Monday, January 23, 2017, 10:06 AM [Journalist Spotlight]
    0 (0 Ratings)

     

    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 Alaina Levine, a freelance science journalist, career consultant, professional speaker, corporate comedian, and award-winning entrepreneur.

    Levine is a career columnist for Physics Today and the American Physical Society’s APS News, and a regular contributor to ScienceCareers.org. Her first book, “Networking for Nerds” (Wiley, July 2015) was named one of the Top 5 Books of 2015 by Physics Today magazine.

    A prolific speaker and writer on career development and professional advancement, Levine has delivered more than 700 speeches for clients in the U.S., Europe, Mexico, and Canada, and has written more than 350 articles in international publications such as Science, Nature, Scientific American, National Geographic News Watch and others.

    Alaina, for those not familiar with your work, can you tell us a little about the topics you cover?

    I am a huge nerd and I write about nerds, their impact, and their careers. Specifically, I am a science journalist and a STEM careers writer, so I cover issues pertaining to STEM research and innovations, and career development for scientists, engineers, and tech gods and goddesses. I write profiles of scientists and engineers, as I love to share the hidden and unusual careers that STEM-educated pros are able to craft for themselves. Moreover, I write career advice columns for a number of different publications. My clients include Science, Nature, Physics Today, Physics World (UK), APS News (of the American Physical Society), and Mechanical Engineering Magazine. I have previously written for Scientific American, National Geographic News Watch, Smithsonian, IEEE Spectrum, COSMOS (Australia), and many other pubs.

    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?

    I so appreciate PR pros. I would not be able to do my job effectively and find the coolest stories and sources if it were not for proactive, talented PR Pros. And I truly value these relationships, which I see as long-lasting, win-win alliances. So the PR pros who are the most savvy are the ones who want to build a long-term partnership with me. ProfNet is especially helpful for this purpose. There have been many times when I submit a query on ProfNet, and a PR pro reaches out to me with a source, and we make magic. And because we worked so well together, we then start exploring other story ideas that could be pitched to other publications. The alliance lasts years and results in multiple articles and placements about their clients.

    So what are PR pros doing right? They are understanding my needs, they are aiming for a long-term, mutually beneficial alliance, they are looking for new avenues for collaboration, and they are staying in touch.  

    What PR pros could do better: Please, after we first make contact, don't bombard me with press releases about topics I am not interested in. Don't put me on your media list unless I ask to be put there. When I query for X on ProfNet, don't reply with the following statement "I don't have any sources for X, but I have an even better story for you about Y." Also, I have no problem with PR pros who need to sit in on interviews; however, please let me know in advance that you need to do this, and if I am doing a phone interview, please let me know you are in the room (I have had a few phone interviews where I found out later in the call that the PR staff were sitting in and they didn't say anything about this).

    Is there anything PR reps can do to set themselves apart from other respondents?

    Respond promptly. Give me a few sentences as to why your client would be a good source. I only need a little bit of info, not a dissertation. If you want to build a partnership with me, let me know who your clients are and what you (and them) are working on now. You can even suggest what publications this might be a good fit for.

    And stay in touch! Email me every now and then, even if you don't have a story idea, I welcome you reaching out to me to say "Hey, Alaina, what are you working on now? Is there anything I can help you with?" We all know that timing is everything, and you never know -- I might need a source that day, or I might be planning an article and by reaching out, you just gave me an idea of an angle I can pursue with you and your client. I have met many PR pros through ProfNet who touch base with me about once a quarter and, in doing so, they stay in the forefront of my mind. As such, I often work with those same PR pros again and again, and look forward to them emailing me, because I know they are interested in helping me and will always have something valuable to share.

    Are you open to cold calls/pitches? If so, what are your guidelines for those?

    Absolutely! I prefer cold emails. I love bullet points, so give me the highlights of your story idea or unusual source. I am also very open to exploratory conversations with PR pros, where I can share what I am looking for in stories and the pubs for which I write, and you can suggest different stories, angles, and ideas. 

    Do you use social media, either to connect with people or to promote your articles?

    I use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to find sources, connect with PR pros, and promote my articles. I try to use tags to ensure that PR pros see the articles in which their clients are included, as well as hashtags to get the attention of PR pros in certain industries. I appreciate when people share, cross-post, and forward my announcements. PR pros who tweet me or tag me in a LinkedIn or Facebook post certainly get my attention!

    What’s your favorite or most memorable story you’ve written?

    I recently wrote an article for ScienceCareers.org, the careers arm of Science Magazine, entitled "Networking with Dr. God." The piece was a humorous look at how to network with and approach the leaders and stars of your field and industry, which I lovingly call "Dr. God." I interviewed several Dr. Gods and early career professionals to get their opinions about how to go about introducing yourself and why Dr. God wants to network with people who are just starting their careers. The best sources with the best quotes came directly from a relationship I had already nurtured with a PR pro and his team, both at his agency and their client. 

    Anything else you’d like to add?

    ProfNet is an unbelievable invaluable resource for me. I hope more PR pros will continue to take full advantage of it!


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