Q&A: What do journalists want?

Good press, we all know its value. It drives revenue, increases awareness, establishes credibility, creates new opportunities, distinguishes a company from its peers. It’s what companies come to us for.

To offer insight on the inner workings of journalism today we enlisted a journalist we know and respect to share “5 Things to Know About Working With Journalists.”

Laura DunnLaura Dunn is an experienced communications and digital practitioner. Laura has been featured in publications including The Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, The Daily Beast, Politico and the Western Mail. Laura also writes for Fortune and BuzzFeed. She is the founder of Political Style, a global fashion, politics and lifestyle blog. With over 8 years of experience working in the private, public and nonprofit sectors, Laura is passionate about the transformative power of digital media and how new technology and techniques can help businesses and individuals to clearly communicate with their stakeholders. Laura has worked in institutions including the US House of Representatives, The National Assembly for Wales and the UK Parliament, and with clients based across the UK, USA and Asia Pacific.

Laura was named as one of Wales Online’s 35 Under 35 entrepreneurs to watch in 2015, and one of 16 individuals to watch in 2016. Laura was a double finalist in the inaugural Wales Entrepreneur Awards.

 

  1. Do you feel that journalism has changed since you started your career? If you could do it all over again, would you still pursue journalism?

Since I studied for my degree in Journalism at Cardiff University, the landscape has totally changed. We are now obviously digitally focused, with the dominance of social media, blogs and video completely transforming the way we communicate. I originally wanted to be a newspaper journalist, but early work experience placements set off the alarm bells and I could see the way in which the industry was headed. That’s why I headed straight into blogging and haven’t looked back.

I would definitely study journalism again, and the course I took has helped me in my professional path. If you have a passion for writing and telling a story, these interests can be applied to any field.

 

  1. What are the biggest challenges of digital journalism?

The biggest challenge of digital journalism is keeping up to speed with the next ‘big thing’ and being the first to report or try something out. In blogging this means being active on the most popular social media platforms, and not being afraid to try out new ways of telling stories and communicating with followers.

Finding fresh things to write about is always a challenge, but it is part of what makes digital journalism a fun path to follow.

 

  1. What are your pet peeves when being contacted by people pitching you to write about them or their clients? Do you have any advice for people who want to pitch you?

I really dislike being sent pitches that are not relevant to the areas in which I write about as well as being signed up for mailing lists and updates of which I have no interest. Another bug bear is when incomplete information is sent back to me – and this particularly happens when receiving pitches for my independent contributions to Huff Post! Similarly, follow up after follow up becomes absolutely frustrating and will turn me off from working with someone in the future.

My advice for pitchers would be to read all the information you are sent, respect a deadline/time frame that is given (it’s given for a reason!) and follow up sparingly and don’t become a pest.

 

  1.  What makes a pitch pique your interest?

I look for interesting stories or angles that appeal to my interests and what my followers like to read. A well written pitch doesn’t have to be long or over the top, it needs to be relevant and show personalization for my interests and body of work.

The best pitches are those which contain all the information you need, with the pitcher showing that they’ve done their research on your past posts, structure and your interests.

 

  1. What’s your advice to people who want to pursue journalism?

For those looking to become a journalist I say start early. Create a portfolio as soon as possible, and ensure it is digital. You don’t need to be a whizz at creating a website, use free sites such as WordPress which provide portfolio style templates and can help you present your work professionally. Look to contribute to websites that are relevant to your areas of interest, and also create a blog where you can develop your own style of writing and creative media.

Look for internships or work placements at local publications, hyperlocal sites or anywhere that will let you get out and interview people. Don’t be afraid to dream big and apply for big name placements or even start your own newspaper or magazine. Creativity is key.

It’s also important that you read as much as you can- newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs, thought leadership to understand the different style and broaden your mind to the many possibilities journalism can offer.

 

*Fun question: Do you have a favorite journalist whose work inspires you?

My favourite journalists are Katie Couric, Christiane Amanpour, Lyse Douchet – all for their tenacity and grit to tell a story. In the online space, Arianna Huffington is so inspirational and I’m excited to see where her new business adventure, Thrive Global ends up!

Crisis communications in the time of Tiger Woods

 

By Tracy Olmstead Williams
Olmstead Williams Communucations

For the past two weeks, almost every meeting, holiday party, conference call or chance encounter has started the same for me: “You’re in crisis communications, what should Tiger Woods do?” Any answer I give is already two weeks too late. Tiger Woods broke the cardinal rule of crisis communications — report your own bad news. Why? Because if you don’t, others will be more than happy to do so, often get it wrong, keep it going longer and provide no glimpse of the true emotions of the transgressor. If Tiger had told everything, as painful as that might have been, it would have cut the legs out from under the follow-up stories. Tiger’s postings on his Web site this weekend, although finally coming clean, didn’t give us any emotional connection to him. It’s a step, but it would be far more powerful to see and hear it from him directly.

Richard Nixon wrote the book on crisis management, proving forever that “stonewalling,” his own word, failed even the all-powerful president of the United States. Bill Clinton, a Rhodes Scholar, didn’t read that book. Many otherwise extremely successful public figures didn’t either. Gary Hart. John Edwards. Eliot Spitzer. Kobe Bryant. Mark Sanford. Each and every one followed up their indiscretion by fumbling their crisis communications. It’s human instinct to want to deny and cover up.
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