Advice from the Media

Advice from the Media | Kathy Lu

Name: Kathy Lu Title: Assistant Managing Editor/Features Media Outlet: Kansas City Star Twitter Handle: @kathyluwho 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. Emails. Meetings. Editing. Story discussions. Putting out fires. Responding to readers. Not necessarily in that order. 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? It's hard to think of the best one, but we pay more attention when it has anything to do with Kansas City. Just recently, we've done stories based on pitches about Kansas City ranking high in certain studies and about people living and working in Kansas City doing cool things. 3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? There are several, and they always run through my head: "Read your stories aloud" (you can catch things better that way); "End sentences on a word that leaves a strong feeling"; "Read everything" (to get story ideas); "Kill your babies" (sometimes, the piece is better off without that turn of phrase or section you really love). 4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? Know your audience. Blanket, generic pitches are often trashed. But if it has something specific to do with the place or person you're sending it to, you have a better shot at it being noticed.
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Advice from the Media | Elisabeth Eaves

Name: Elisabeth Eaves Title: Author, editor, and freelance writer. Formerly a Robert Bartley fellow on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, a staff writer and editor at Forbes, and opinions editor at the Daily, the world's first iPad newspaper. Media Outlet: Many. Recently: the New...

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Advice from the Media | Eric Peters

Name: Eric Peters Title: Vulture of the Western World/Car/Bikes/Politics Columnist Media Outlet: Easy Rider/American Airlines/American Spectator/San Diego Metro/National Motorists Association Personal Blog: www.ericpetersautos.com 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. Up early, lots of coffee. Get a jump on the world. Take a breather around 1; do...

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Advice from the Media | Mark Hemingway

Name: Mark Hemingway Title: Senior Writer Media Outlet: The Weekly Standard Twitter Handle: @heminator 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. Lots and lots of reading, punctuated by flurries of writing and an occasional interview. 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? I won't elaborate on the details,...

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Advice from the Media | Toby Harnden

Name: Toby Harnden Title: Washington Bureau Chief Media Outlet: The Sunday Times (UK) Twitter Handle: @tobyharnden Personal Blog: www.tobyharnden.com 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. No day typical. Longest recent day when Boston bomber caught. Out reporting on grnd all week. Started writing 10pm. Filed 5,100 words by 9am 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? I am instinctively suspicious of PR pitches so best ones are probably approaches I never knew were pitches. I've been invited to go fishing using hand grenades with the French Foreign Legion. That's quite attractive. 3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? Always go there. It's obvious but so many reporters these days use email as a crutch or don't go to an event because it will be on TV or they'll get a transcript. Early on in my career, in Northern Ireland, whenever there was a bombing or shooting I'd go, whatever the time of day or night. It was always worth it - I'd get a different angle or I'd meet a potential contact. It astonished me how many reporters were lazy. Along the same lines - always make the call. You never know whether or not the person will speak to you. But if you don't try, then you can be sure they won't.
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Advice from the Media | Robert Pollock

Name: Robert L. Pollock Title: Former Op-ed Editor, Editorial Board Member Media Outlet: The Wall Street Journal 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. I was op-ed editor of the WSJ from 2007-2012, and at the paper from 1995-2013. A typical workday began at home in the early morning and ended at the office around the time the first edition of the paper went to bed at 7PM. That includes Sundays, by the way. I was managing two pages of signed opinion with roughly six pieces per day. We got hundreds of submissions a week and commissioned many ourselves. 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? The best pitch is not a pitch but a finished piece. Honestly an editor can’t tell much from a pitch, especially a phone pitch. If you don’t have a finished product pitch it by email rather than phone so the editor can see the written quality of your thoughts. 3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? Simplify. Don’t use big words where small ones will do. Beware of bad or mixed metaphors. It’s easy to forget how many common terms are actually metaphors. If an idea can’t be summed up in one sentence it probably isn’t right for an op-ed. 4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? Use email to pitch. Make sure the product has a well stated thesis in the lead graph, and make sure the product is clean. It’s surprising how many PR professionals send sloppy stuff. 5) What's your craziest or most interesting newsroom story? 9/11. The WSJ was across the street from the WTC. Putting out the paper that day and for months afterward was an amazing display of ingenuity and teamwork from my colleagues.
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Advice from the Media | Dale Buss

Name: Dale Buss Title: Independent Journalist Media Outlet: Forbes, Chief Executive, Brandchannel.com, Wall Street Journal, Townhall Magazine and many more Twitter Handle: @DaleDBuss 1. Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. Pore through news. Handle increasing 24/7 blogging responsibilities. Then turn to find time for longer-term projects e.g. mag stories, books. 2. What's the best pitch you've ever received? I can't single out one of the best, but I can talk about a cavalcade of awful ones, which had one or more of these characteristics: 1) Totally clueless about what I do, specifically and/or about how freelancers or even journalists work; 2) Presumption that journalists want to or are able to work on precisely what the pitch-er happens to be proposing that day; 3) Responding to a query by offering an executive for an interview only to come back later and say he/she's not available. In short, the most effective PR folks forge a relationship with me which ends up paying off both ways. 3. The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? "More, better, faster, Buss!" -- Doug Sease, WSJ bureau chief in Detroit, 1981-1983; and another: "Boomer [his nickname for me], I want you to go out and capture the mood of the people!" -- Paul "Biff" Dysart, editor, Reedsburg (Wis.) Times Press and renowned community-newspaper editor in Iowa (R.I.P.) 4. If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? In addition to (2) above, I would urge them to learn that (most, traditional) journalists and bloggers don't wake up every day wondering how we can best promote an agency's agenda or client. Instead, we're totally focused on how to make ourselves and our clients look smart. That's how it has to be, of course. And if they can find ways to understand and, yes, exploit that truth, we're going to have a mutually beneficial relationship. 5. What's your craziest or most interesting newsroom story? I'll never forget sitting in the newsroom of the Milwaukee Journal (now the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) in 1990, at a meeting where top editors were considering our "people of the decade" section, and hearing one of my colleagues assert, in all seriousness, that Ronald Reagan didn't deserve to be on the list. Of the many, many instances I've encountered of newsroom bias and agenda-setting before and since, this was the most instructive to me. I never quite looked at "newsroom objectivity" the same again.
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Advice from the Media | Chelsea Glenn Fuller

Name: Chelsea Glenn Fuller Title: Reporter/Copy Editor Media Outlet: The Dominion Post Twitter Handle: Fulloffaith22 Personal Blog: Journalist Extraordinaire 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. Reporting days: Receive daily assignments, go do the interviews, come back and write. Editing days: Edit news copy, design, layout and proof pages. 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? I would have to say the best pitch/scoop I've received thus far was from an elderly lady who bombarded my office with calls that my superiors brushed off. When I finally talked to her, she informed me that she lived in a large apartment complex for low income seniors. Many residents at the complex received free lunch from a local state funded senior center. For most of the residents the lunch was their only hot meal of the day, and the number of lunches served was cut significantly without any explanation from the center or the apartment complex. That one scoop turned into seven top strip front page stories that exposed the agency's mishandling of the meal program. Words of wisdom: Don't ever totally disregard a pitch/scoop without listening to it first because you never know where your next big story will come from. 3) What are the greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? My first editor told me that I should never assume that my readers already know what I am writing about... even the simplest things that appear self-explanatory. She always reminded me that it is not just my job, but my responsibility to be thorough and to produce accurate content that people can trust. After making a classic junior reporter mistake (I failed to double check the spelling of a source's name), she told me that taking extra time to double check sources, spelling and grammar are simple things that can separate good reporters from great reporters. There hasn't been a single day in my career that I haven't remembered those words. 4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? Don't underestimate the value of creating strong ties with reporters. Many PR professionals just send blanket releases to media outlets for the sake of convenience. But you would be surprised at the difference sending a personalized release can make. Good, relationships with reporters can be the difference between getting coverage for your client and having your release sent to the bottom of the stack.
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Advice from the Media | Rebecca Gale

Name: Rebecca Gale Title: Opinion Editor and author of Hill Navigator, Roll Call’s advice column Media Outlet: CQ Roll Call Twitter Handle: @beckgale Personal Blog: www.beckgale.com 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. Read op-eds. Edit. File. Dispense Hill Advice. 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? A former colleague pitched me about some inappropriate action in his office. I can’t repeat it, but suffice to say I passed it on to the right people. 3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? I was told to stop using so many dialogue tags in fiction writing. "Said" should be used more often than "asked," "spoke up" or "added" or any other of those shenanigans. 4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? Be nice. I’m amazed how many rude emails I receive when people are pitching op-eds. And follow up. Spam filters and excessive email traffic cause more delays than necessary. 5) What's your craziest or most interesting newsroom story? Writing Roll Call’s advice column has been interesting -- I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quality of questions we’ve received. I hope it continues to be a resource for Capitol Hill staff. 6) What sets your page apart from the competition? I think Roll Call does a great job of knowing its audience. We write for the Capitol Hill community -- including Members and staff -- and it makes a big difference in reporting news that is relevant to your audience.
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Advice from the Media | Kevin Bushweller

Name: Kevin Bushweller Title: Executive Editor Media Outlet: Education Week Digital Directions (Publisher is Editorial Projects in Education Inc.) Twitter Handle: @kbushweller Web site: www.digitaldirections.org 1) Describe your typical workday in 140 characters or less. There is no typical day, seriously. One day, I might be giving a keynote speech at a national conference. And the next day I might be scrambling to get a magazine issue out the door. 2) What's the best pitch you've ever received? Let me re-frame the question: Who are the best pitch artists? They are the PR folks who think like journalists. They see how their products or services fit within a bigger picture story or trend. 3) The greatest words of wisdom an editor ever gave you? “You are only as good as your next story.” Generating original ideas is key to survival. 4) If there was one thing you could tell every PR practitioner, what would it be? If you sound like everyone else, you will not get my attention. 5) What's your craziest or most interesting newsroom story? I arrived in New York City on Sept. 10, 2001, to work on a story about the psychological impact on a high school teacher who was violently assaulted by a student. I drove to school with the teacher the next morning, arriving in Manhattan on a beautiful day not knowing what was happening above us in the air. I spent the day at the school, working on a breaking story for Education Week’s web site about what it was like to be in a school near the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. I also used the day to observe how the teacher I was visiting handled the stress. The story about the teacher appeared in Teacher Magazine and Education Week several weeks later and eventually won a national writing award from the Education Writers Association.
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