I am working on:
Jun 30, 2010, 11:03 CDT
- Member Type(s): Content Publisher
Media - Freelancer
Media - Broadcast
Media - Print Journalist
Media - Student Journalist
Media - Web-only/Blogger
Media - Other
- Title:Director, Audience Content
- Area of Expertise:ProfNet
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Thursday, December 17, 2015, 1:41 PM
For this month’s featured success story, we catch up with Alexander Ruggie, PR director for 911 Restoration, a home restoration company that specializes in water damage and disaster recovery solutions.
911 Restoration was featured in a Chicago Tribune article earlier this year (Sale Away: Tenacity, Knowledge and People Skills Drive Best Reps) after Ruggie replied to a ProfNet query.
“We’ve had other publication successes, but the Chicago Tribune piece was especially important to me because I grew up in Chicago reading this paper,” said Ruggie.
Some of the other publications 911 Restoration has been featured in as a result of ProfNet queries include Chief Executive Magazine, CMSWire, Military Transition News, TheStreet.com and Middle Market Thought Leader.
With so many success under his belt, we asked Ruggie to share some insight and advice for his fellow PR professionals:
Alexander, how do you choose which ProfNet queries to respond to each day?
I choose ProfNet queries to respond to based off my expertise, or that of the people I represent for the questions being asked. This is done in concert with the potential return on time investment relative to the source of the question. Put simply, if I know a lot about what is being asked in the query, then I will respond with my expertise or that of my clients, but I do so aiming as high as possible, and this is also where the resources go in terms of time spent on each question.
What do you include in a typical response?
My responses always include a short bio of myself as an intro to what I will be talking about. I find that this is a nice segue into the topic, and it also gives some credibility to my words, so that a reporter with an inbox jammed full of responses will recognize that mine is trustworthy.
After the intro portion of my response, I dive directly into how I can help them with whatever the query topic is. I don’t waste time with conjecture and I get straight to the facts of the situation as I see them.
I also take the subject line of the reporter’s query and use it as the subject line of the email I am sending out. I find (and have talked with reporters who agree) that by doing this, it gives them the ability to easily search for the topic in their inbox. This helps when reporters are working on multiple stories at once, making it easy to find the sources they need because they don’t have to go hunting through emails. Instead, they simply put their own question back into the search field and (hopefully) my response is at the top of the list.
I also always sign off my responses with an offer to provide the information that has been sought in more detail through whatever means needed, whether that is a phone interview, answering follow-up email questions or putting them in touch with an expert in my company who can provide more information.
I also tell everyone to have a great day. As much as we may use ProfNet for business purposes, I think adding a human element to the end of the conversation makes people realize that we are all trying to help each other, and sometimes that just means being told to have a nice day.
Do you have tips for others for responding to ProfNet queries?
Start with the truth. That starts within. If you like the title of a query but open it up and find you are woefully underqualified to answer it, don’t. If you are highly overqualified and the query is slightly out of the scope of your business realm, indicate that, but answer it anyway and provide your expertise. This will not only help the reporter out in the instance, but it will potentially help you the next time that reporter does something that is within your business purview. They will remember how helpful you were and hopefully return the favor.
Don’t be afraid to aim high. As you can see, this works out quite well sometimes, because the best approach is to give your best every time you respond to a query.
Try to avoid giving trite or easily Google-able answers to a query. If it were that easy, your expertise wouldn’t be sought after. If you can Google it, so can they. So, if you respond, make sure it comes from not only a place of confidence, but also authority on the subject.
Know your audience. Don’t be afraid to be a bit silly or a bit serious depending on the query. Sometimes the query will be more playful, and that should engender a playful response. If the post is serious, then you should probably return with a serious response.
Avoid shock-and-awe subject lines. We’ve all done this from time to time when we are too excited to think it through. It’s best to put the subject of the query as the subject of your email, unless the reporter requests otherwise. Subject lines such as “Legitimate Sighting of Loch Ness Monster” may get you noticed, but it might also get your email blocked.
Thanks so much, Alexander!
If you’re a writer, reporter, producer, blogger or any other type of content creator, find out how ProfNet can help you find the sources you need, whether they’re experts or “real people.” Just go to www.profnet.com to get started or go directly to the journalist query form to submit your query.
And if you have a ProfNet success story to share, let us know and you might see your smiling face on the Times Square sign!
Thursday, December 17, 2015, 10:37 AM
Are you looking for a new career in communications for 2016?
We recently hosted a Twitter Q&A on career trends and tips, featuring Ferrol Lipton, founder and president of FlipIntros, an executive recruiting and consulting firm. Lipton shared her insight on traits employers are looking for, résumé tips, what to do – and, more importantly, not do – during interviews, and much more.
Here are some of the highlights:
What hiring trends are you seeing for the PR market in 2016?
There’s a strong need for business development and talented writers for content development, especially for PR firms. Digital experience is also big, with smaller companies expanding their PR teams and hiring their first integrated marketer.
What are some of the main traits employers look for in future talent?
Strong writing, solid pitching skills, strategic thinking and a solid work ethic. Companies are looking for a roll-up-your-sleeves type of person, someone who can get things done with a smile and is a major team player. They want someone with a positive personality that wants to learn, a self-starter, focused, and a potential leader and long-term hire.
What’s your best advice for anyone looking for a new job opportunity in the PR industry?
Network! Too many dynamic PR professionals forget to tell others who know how talented they are that they’re looking! Use tools like LinkedIn, attend strategic events where your future bosses may be, find recruiters you really trust. And always trust your gut while interviewing -- a major salary increase doesn't always equal a great long-term culture fit.
What are PR/marketing job seekers overlooking when looking for new job opportunities?
Many great publicists don’t build up their own social media brand and lose touch with great contacts from their network. For example, your LinkedIn profile should always be updated, and use Twitter to network with influencers and build new relationships.
What are some tips for recent college grads trying to land their first PR job with barely any experience?
- Get creative and set up informational interviews.
- Be open to jobs where you’ll have a true mentor and learn a ton. Get prepared to do plenty of grunt work to learn.
- Be open to an executive assistant or reception role to get a foot in the door.
- Create a social media brand on LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Use connections like Greek life and college alumni to network.
- Be very open-minded to a PR internship that can be invaluable to your career and lead to a full-time job. Many PR firms take interns.
Let’s talk about résumés and cover letters. Which stand out for you and clients?
Those that show you really did your research and convey why you should be brought in to interview. Too many people just cut and paste the info. Hiring managers can tell that in two seconds.
What are the biggest do’s and don’ts when it comes to résumés?
Make sure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes, and make sure all tenses and fonts are accurate. Tailor the résumé to a job opening with specific relevant examples (e.g., PR clients) and create custom cover letters. And always bring copies to interviews.
Are there any specific fonts or types of paper that are more attractive to use than others?
Go with classic fonts -- nothing too over-the-top. Use conservative-colored paper as well -- off white. Ivory works too.
What are some not-so-obvious jobs skills that job seekers in the communications industry should have?
Public speaking, Photoshop, SEO practices. Communications jobs are so integrated today. You want to highlight any special skills. Do you speak another language? Include that. Stand out!
Ok, so you’ve landed your dream job interview. What are some do’s and don’ts for the interview itself?
- Research the company and the role, and be able to articulate your experience related to that role.
- Research, in detail, who you’re meeting with. You may have a friend in common, or maybe you went to the same college.
- Know anyone who works or worked at the company? Speak with them about the corporate culture, etc.
- Think of questions that show you’re passionate about the job.
- If one of your responsibilities will be to pitch, bring clips.
- Dress like you want the job -- no wrinkled shirts under a great suit, no messy hair.
- Don’t show up an hour early. Show up on time.
- Never say negative things about past employers.
- Don’t bring up salary right away.
- Sleep and eat well before!
Bottom line: Never make an interviewer feel you just want a job. Show how passionate you are about that job and why they must hire you!
Monday, December 14, 2015, 10:50 AM
Is your New Year’s resolution to either reach the next level in your career or even to find a new one? If so, then you won’t want to miss our final Twitter chat of the year, scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 15, from 3 to 4 p.m. EST.
Ferrol Lipton, founder and president of FlipIntros LLC, an executive recruiting and consulting firm, will share her insight on the types of communications roles that are most in demand, traits employers are looking for, advice for job seekers and new grads on how to land their dream job, and more.
Participating in the chat is easy -- just follow the #ConnectChat hashtag. We’ll start the chat off with a few questions for Ferrol, but you can jump in at any time with your own questions. Just make sure to use the #ConnectChat hashtag at the end of your tweet.
Ferrol Lipton is the founder and president of FlipIntros LLC, a recruitment leader in the communications arena. FlipIntros partners with companies to help them hire efficient talent in the communications, digital, public relations and marketing world. Lipton’s search firm is based in NYC and works mostly on searches throughout the United States. Before creating FlipIntros, Lipton held corporate business development and sales management roles for 13 years. She realized her calling as a passionate business matchmaker after beginning her sales career at PR Newswire. She also plans and implements strategic networking events where she actively serves as the connector. She tweets about current job searches, job search tips and networking events at @Flipintros.
When not introducing talent to her clients, Lipton is busy spinning, attending Broadway shows, visiting museums, traveling, and exploring new restaurants, especially ones with amazing desserts. She has been known to connect dynamic people she has randomly encountered on her daily adventures.
Monday, December 7, 2015, 12:47 PM
Becoming a panelist on TV is not easy, but there are strategies you can use to increase your chances of reaching the right producers – and to showcase your skills and be featured again.
Here are eight quick tips for getting on TV, courtesy of Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel, founder of Reel Media Group:
1) “Don’t suck!” Having a good on-camera presence doesn’t come naturally to everyone and you have one shot, says Tsoflias Siegel. Practice your skills and learn as much as you can about what producers are looking for.
2) Set up a Google Alerts using keywords that will show up in stories you can speak to. For example, if you’re a pain specialist, set up an alert with words like “pain,” “medicine,” and “chronic.” This way, you’ll get an alert when relevant stories pop up in Google News and you can pitch yourself in a timely fashion.
3) Have knowledge to talk about timely, topical stories. Make sure you stay on top of the news and what is going on in your industry.
4) Embrace the power of social media. Most, if not all, producers are on social media. If you haven’t yet embraced the most popular platforms, now is the time to start.
5) Know the balance of fact and opinion, and utilize both on-air.
6) Make friends with TV folks. Attend industry networking events. Connections go a long way.
7) Learn how to speak in powerful soundbites, and know when to pause for follow-up questions.
8) Give producers the problem and a solution.
Tsoflias Siegel will join other panelists -- including producers from CBS, political pundits, media bookers, and more -- at a workshop being hosted by the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 8, on “How to Pitch and Perform on Network News.” The panel of industry influencers will share do’s and don’ts on pitching story ideas, performing on TV, and how to reach them. After the panel discussion, participants will answer mock interview questions and will shoot a two-minute demo tape.
ProfNet users are being offered a registration discount of $75. Just use “ProfNet” as your coupon code when registering. Full event info here: tinyurl.com/ng67755
Whether you are an expert who wants to be featured as a guest, or a TV producer (or other media professional) looking for guests, ProfNet can help you. Find out more at www.profnet.com or send a request for experts here: Send a query.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 10:35 AM
A couple of months ago, we received a notification on Facebook that ProfNet user Tara Kachaturoff had posted on our wall:
“Thanks for helping me connect with amazing entrepreneurs for my TV show, Michigan Entrepreneur TV! I really appreciate your service!”
We always love hearing from ProfNet users, but especially on Facebook and Twitter, so we decided to talk with Tara and find out more.
Tara is the creator, producer, and host of “Michigan Entrepreneur,” a weekly television talk show featuring businesses from startup to stellar. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the program, which has featured hundreds of entrepreneurs throughout Michigan. Building on a successful career in finance in the tech sector, Tara provides business coaching and consulting services to entrepreneurs and executives.
Tara started using ProfNet a couple of years ago. Since that time, she has connected with Steve Lowisz, founder/CEO, Qualigence; Gary Cone, founding partner, Global Productivity Solutions; Sue Voyles, founder, Logos Communications; Ronia Kruse, CEO, OpTech, LLC; Vladimir Gendelman, founder, Company Folders; Bob Marsh, CEO, LevelEleven; and Dr. Perry Daneshgari, founder, president and CEO, MCA, Inc.. All of those connections were made via ProfNet queries.
We sat down with Tara to find out more about how she uses ProfNet and what advice she has for other users:
How do you choose which ProfNet experts to work with when you submit a query?
The first thing I look for is the format of the information they submit. I provide an easy (and required) template for responses so the PR representative (or the expert) can copy it into the body of an email, add their client information, and hit send. It’s fast, easy, and efficient. Due to time limitations on my end, I only review information submitted in the required format.
Second, I delete inquiries that are irrelevant. For example, although the program focuses exclusively on Michigan-based entrepreneurs and companies, I still receive inquiries to interview guests who are located in other states or who don’t meet any of the other required criteria.
Finally, I review for interest. Would I be interested in interviewing this entrepreneur? Is this business new or unique? Would others find their story or product fascinating? If there’s a fit, I send the PR representative or expert a short application to complete. I use this information for show prep.
The application, which takes less than 10 minutes to complete, eliminates a number of potential guests because some representatives don’t want to spend the time to fill it out. Their clients would be quite disappointed if they ever found out they were invited to a 30-minute TV interview and missed out because of their PR firm! No one should ever bypass an opportunity for their client to practice their “on-air” presence!
Once I receive the final application, we determine a date and time for taping and the guest is booked. It’s easy to complete all of this -- from beginning to end -- with just a couple of emails.
What do you look for in responses?
I look for:
- Innovation: something out of the ordinary. I’m looking for guests who have unique businesses or an interesting twist to an ordinary business. I especially love interviewing inventors and founders of technology companies.
- A great story. I review responses to see if there’s an interesting personal story that inspired the entrepreneur. If I find it interesting, I think others will, too!
- From startup to stellar. I enjoy interviewing entrepreneurs at all stages of the business lifecycle -- like my tagline says -- Michigan Entrepreneur: Businesses from startup to stellar! I enjoy interviewing new entrepreneurs who are barely off the ground as much as seasoned veterans who are making millions!
- Variety. I interview men and women, best friends, families -- there’s always an interesting story to discover. I find it particularly interesting to learn about how business partners first met or how a business became a family legacy. I’ve even interviewed one young entrepreneur who appeared on a popular network television program featuring entrepreneurs.
- Generations. I’ve interviewed entrepreneurs aged 16 to 94. Young business owners are inspiring the next generation of Michigan entrepreneurs. You’re never too young or too old to start a business!
- Responsiveness. I’ve worked with some amazing PR representatives over the years. I can tell they truly love what they do and that they care about the success of their clients.
Do you have any tips for PR pros and experts for responding to ProfNet queries?
Here are some quick and easy tips for pros and experts:
Tip #1: Read the query thoroughly prior to responding. Read it again and note any special requirements. Make sure your client is a fit – otherwise, don’t respond. Your time is valuable, so focus your efforts on opportunities that align with the needs of the media outlet.
Tip #2: Submit information in the required format. The best way to get your client booked is to submit the information requested -- nothing more and nothing less. Make it easy for the media outlet to review your information. The harder you make it, the less likely they’ll respond.
Tip #3: Be responsive. When you see a great opportunity or when you receive a reply from a media outlet that they’re interested, get back to them right away! The early bird often gets the opportunity!
Tip #4: Be prepared. Make sure you have all the information you need to respond on behalf of your clients. The more prepared you are, the faster you can respond.
Tip #5: Be organized when handling PR queries. If you’re disorganized, you can miss important opportunities. Create a simple spreadsheet to track all the details so you can easily reference them and follow up.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’ve enjoyed working with ProfNet over the last few years to source top guests. ProfNet makes it easy for me to connect with experts or those representing experts. I like your simple system, which takes me a minute or two to post what I need. And, you send it out within 24 hours. Your staff has been friendly and helpful since the very first time I used the service. I highly recommend ProfNet for any media outlet that wants to connect with top experts!
Thanks so much, Tara!
If you’re a writer, reporter, producer, blogger or any other type of content creator, find out how ProfNet can help you find the sources you need, whether they’re experts or “real people.”
Just go to www.profnet.com to get started or go directly to the journalist query form to submit your query.
And if you have a ProfNet success story to share, let us know and you might see your smiling face on the Times Square sign!
Thursday, November 5, 2015, 10:58 AM
Want to see your picture in Times Square?
We’re looking for some great ProfNet success stories.
Each month, we spotlight a ProfNet user – whether on the PR or media side – who has made great connections using ProfNet. Will you be our next feature?
If you have been quoted or have found great experts to quote, we want to know about it. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with “ProfNet Success Story” in the subject line, and you could be featured next!
The icing on the cake? If you’re featured as a Success Story, your picture will be posted on the Reuters billboard in Times Square!
Here are some past features to give you an idea of what they look like: ProfNet Success Stories.
Ready to make it happen? Just email us all the details – make sure to include links! – of all the impressive connections you’ve made via ProfNet.
Monday, October 26, 2015, 11:00 AM
For this month’s ProfNet Success Story, we caught up with freelance writer Leah Ingram, who tells us that ProfNet is her “go-to source for stories that need lots of information,” such as her freebie roundups on Parade.com.
In fact, here are just a few of her Parade.com stories that featured information/experts sourced through ProfNet:
11 National Coffee Day Deals
Get the Most Money for Your Old iPhone
What Shoppers Need to Know About New EMV Credit Cards
Is the Tooth Fairy Feeling the Recession?
We sat down with Leah to find out more about how she uses ProfNet, and advice for PR pros and experts for getting the most of our queries:
Leah, how do you choose which ProfNet experts to work with when you send a query?
When I post a ProfNet query, I try to be as specific as possible about my story's parameters. I also try to provide the details of what I need for my story and what I do not need. When a ProfNet expert replies to my query -- in time for my deadline, naturally -- and has read my query and responds as such, I star that email (I literally click the star in Gmail) and make it one of the ones I'll definitely consider for my story.
What do you look for in responses?
I love responses that answer any questions I've asked in my query and maybe offer up a tip or two to support the pitch. Links to more information are always welcome as well. Since I post regularly on Parade.com, if I've submitted a query for an upcoming Parade.com story and the expert has taken the time to read some of my past stories and references them, I appreciate that extra level of effort. When an expert makes my job as a writer easier, well, that's just the proverbial icing on the cake.
Any pet peeves or turnoffs when it comes to query responses?
Unfortunately, I'll probably have more answers to this question than the others. So some of my pet peeves include:
- Replies that come after my deadline;
- Suggestions that I change my story or that a better angle would be [insert angle here];
- When I'm on a tight deadline and someone sends a reply that says, "So and so is a great expert. Do you want to interview him?" but they haven't provided any background information. How am I supposed to know that the person is great? Show, don't tell.
- When I’m on a tight deadline and someone replies with an expert, and when I ask to set up an interview, they respond, "Well, she's not available right now." Then why respond at all?
- Massaging the truth about how good a fit an expert is. I recently had someone respond to a query with information about an expert who seemed perfect for my story. However, once the interview started and I asked a few questions, it quickly became clear that this expert did not possess the expertise I needed for my story at all. He might have had an opinion about the topic, but he was in no way an expert. Now I was in this awkward position of wondering if I should cut the person off mid-interview or politely cut it short. Please don't put a writer in that position just to get a "hit" for your client.
- They get my name wrong (Laura or Leigh -- yup, it's happened), or they say they are replying to my HARO query (I don’t use HARO) or they offer a guest for my show (I write for print and online primarily). That lack of attention to detail raises a red flag.
- Making my job harder. For example, pitching me something tips-oriented and, when I ask for more information, suggesting I read their book. Um, that's what a tip sheet is for. Even I, as a book author, always have a tip sheet ready to go when promoting my money-saving advice.
- Calling me when I haven't said I wanted calls or, worse, calling or sending me a follow-up email less than one hour after replying to my query. When you send out a ProfNet query, it is easy to get inundated, so going through all the emails in less than an hour is often impossible.
Do you have any other tips for PR pros and experts for responding to ProfNet queries?
See above on what not to do. That said, may I make a suggestion for experts, companies or brands that post press releases on PR Newswire? I'll visit the site often to find information for my stories or to get story ideas. When I can't find what I need, then I turn to ProfNet.
But back to the press releases – please include contact information for your media relations people, especially an email. I see so many press releases without this basic information. I shouldn't have to turn to Google or LinkedIn to try to track down someone.
Thanks, Leah. That is very helpful!
More about Leah:
Leah is the author of 14 books, including two on frugal living: “Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier on Less” (Adams Media, 2010) and “Toss, Keep, Sell: The Suddenly Frugal Guide to Getting Organized and Making Money from Your Stuff” (Adams Media, 2010). Her book “Suddenly Frugal” was recently released as an audiobook.
Leah is also the founder of the popular frugal-living blog called Suddenly Frugal and writes on money-saving topics every week for Parade.com. She has appeared dozens of times, to share her frugal-living tips, on NBC 10 in Philadelphia, as well as "Saving with 6ABC" segments on 6ABC, also in Philadelphia. In addition, she's been a guest expert on “The CBS Evening News,” “Good Morning America,” "Wake Up with Al," ABC News Now and “Good Day New York,” among other programs.
Leah has also partnered with many national brands to bring her unique-blend of money-saving advice to life through speaking engagements on TV, as well as at colleges, libraries, business associations, financial institutions, and other organizations.
Thursday, October 8, 2015, 9:56 AM
Have you always dreamed of seeing your face in the bright lights of Times Square? Here’s your chance!
Just tweet out a message referring ProfNet to writers any time between now and Oct. 31. Then, on Nov. 1, we'll pick one person to be featured on the Reuters Times Square billboard.
A suggested tweet, if I may be so bold (but feel free to be creative!):
Tweet: Writers: In a pinch? @ProfNet can help you connect with experts quickly. Check it out. It’s easy and free: ctt.ec/dmYj5+ #profnet
It’s that simple! Have a question? Drop us a line at email@example.com
Friday, October 2, 2015, 8:53 AM
On Sept. 24, more than 100 people gathered for New York Women in Communications’ 2015 WiCi Awards ceremony, held at the iconic Condé Nast offices at 1 World Trade Center in New York City, to celebrate the extraordinary talent of six rising stars in communications.
The WiCi Awards recognizes emerging leaders for making a difference and significant contributions in the changing landscape of communications. This year’s WiCi honorees included:
- Penny Abeywardena, commissioner, Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, City of New York
- Jessica Bennett, editor, contributor, The New York Times; columnist, Time.com; contributing editor, Lean In
- Katrina Craigwell, director, global content and programming, GE
- Carrie Hammer, CEO, Carrie Hammer
- Jolie Hunt, principal, Hunt & Gather, Inc.
- Genevieve Roth, senior director of special projects, Glamour
The event, hosted by previous Matrix Award honoree Dyllan McGee, founder/creator of MAKERS, left many full of inspiration, with each of the honorees sharing personal stories, valuable career advice and what key traits contributed most to their success.
Here are some key pieces of advice shared from each of the six exceptional women being honored:
- “Being generous will set you apart from others. It doesn’t matter how much or little you have, try to be generous with what you have. I think generosity and honesty contribute most to success.” – Jolie Hunt
- “Good and on deadline is better than late and perfect, every time.” – Genevieve Roth
- “Be a force for good and bring others along with you.” – Penny Abeywardena
- “Passion, persistence and resilience contribute most to success. Those who are successful know that when you get 99 ‘no’s, the 100th could be a ‘yes’. – Carrie Hammer
- “Don’t be afraid to fail. If it doesn’t work, try something else.” -- Jessica Bennett
- Have a strong support system, both professional and personal. They will be there for you when times get rough.” – Katrina Craigwell
For additional takeaways from the program and this amazing group of women, follow the hashtag #WiCi15 on Twitter.
Thursday, October 1, 2015, 9:48 AM
One of the hardest parts of becoming a freelance writer is getting your first assignment. How do you find the right magazine for your story idea? And once you do, how do you get the magazine to give you an assignment?
We recently hosted a Twitter Q&A with freelance writer Lisa Iannucci (@virgintraveler), who shared tips on writing for both consumer and trade magazines, including how to find assignments, how to create better relationships with your editors, and more.
Lisa has written many articles for consumer and trade publications. On the consumer side, she has written for Weight Watchers, Muscle & Fitness, Parenting, Shape, ePregnancy, SkyGuide Go (American Express), American Health, USA Weekend, Parenting, New York Magazine and more. She has also written for the trade market as a regular contributor to New England Condominium, The Cooperator, Business Travel News, DDIFO (a Dunkin’ Donuts trade journal); Sports Travel and more.
She is also the founder of The Virgin Traveler (thevirgintraveler.com), a travel blog for those who always wanted to travel and are finally getting the chance, and co-host of "Sports Palooza Radio" (blogtalkradio.com/sportspalooza). A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, she has written, contributed to, and ghostwritten 14 other books.
Lisa, what’s the most important thing someone should know about writing for consumer publications?
Come up with a fresh idea. So much has been done before. What new twist can you give it -- new research, new anecdotes? Say you want to write about diets. What new research is there? Is there a new weight-loss procedure?
Shameless plug: And you can use ProfNet to find that information! prn.to/1VlClZS
I'll second that shameless plug. I use ProfNet all the time to network and find sources and something new for my articles.
What makes writing for trade publications different than writing for consumer publications?
To write for consumers, you have a broader audience, but to write for trades it's a specific niche that deals with one topic. Example of consumer magazines, Woman's Day, Time, Sports Illustrated. Examples of trades are Creative Screenwriting or Birdwatching magazine.
Do you have to be an expert on that niche in order to write for trade pubs?
Not necessarily. I don't own a Dunkin' Donuts franchise, but I write for one of their trades. It depends on the magazine. If it's very technical or medical, then you should come to the table with some knowledge of the subject matter. Also, some magazines require a specific background to write for them, while others don't. Read the articles and see who the writers are.
Which do you prefer, consumer or trade pubs?
Honestly, I love my trades. I'll write for both, but with trades, the editorial process is easier/faster. Less hands. Many consumer magazines have "committees" of editors. One article can take months (even more than a year) to go from idea to print. On the flip side, some consumer magazines pay very well if you break in. But for me, trades are steadier work/pay. When I started, I saw my name in consumer magazine lights. When one story took a year to see in print, I rethought that.
If you’re just starting out and have no connections, what’s the best way to go about getting an assignment?
Find out the editor/contact and write to them telling them you are looking for freelance work. You can also start with pitching a magazine an idea and why you should write it. Learn how to write a query letter (there are books). If you want to write for a medical journal and you're a nurse, say it. If you want to write for a bird magazine and it's your hobby, say that.
The best advice on landing an assignment is "write about what you know." Start there and then find magazines where you can do that.
How does someone go about finding a trade pub to pitch? How do they know which magazines even exist?
Writer's Market is a great place to start, but you can ask associations what their trade magazines are; they'll know. Also, I've Googled "real estate trade pubs," for example, so you can search it with the industry you are looking for. To find out if they exist, do the old fashioned thing -- call. Some are just websites now, but you can still write for them.
Once you’ve identified a publication, how do you find out the correct person to pitch?
Years ago, it used to be easy -- you'd call and get a contact name/number. Now, many magazines use generic editorial emails. Look at their masthead or on their website and start there. Find the editor's name/email. If they have a phone number, call.
You want to see who the editors are and then target the right one. For example, if you're pitching a fitness story, you want a health editor, not the main ediotor. If they just have one editor, you'll just pitch him/her, so it depends. Keep in mind that one editor may handle multiple magazines, so impress them and they may use you again for other assignments.
What should your very first pitch contain? Do you have to have the article already written out?
No, don't write it yet. A query letter should intrigue them about the idea. Make the first paragraph riveting so they want more. Then tell them why you as the writer. Do you have experience? Contacts? Sell it!
Writing is more marketing than you think. If they like it, they'll contact you for more info or an assignment. They will tell you details, etc., so don't write it yet.
What’s the difference in pay between consumer pubs and trade pubs? Does one pay better than the other?
Yes and no. You might make more money with consumer magazines per article, depending on the magazine, but if it takes months to finish the article, go through edits and get paid, well? If you're writing a lot, fine, but for me, trades often pay faster with less edits, so since this is my business, I make more with trades. Other writers might say differently. It depends on your own career as you go. At one time, I made more with consumer magazines. Now it's different for me.
Thanks, Lisa, for the great insight. I’m sure this will be very helpful to those just starting out or considering a career as a freelance magazine writer. And remember, whether you’re just starting out or are a veteran writer, ProfNet can help you find the experts you need: prn.to/1VlClZS