Each month we have been reaching out to journalists and media professionals to chat with them about their experiences in the industry. For this month’s ‘Questions for Journalists’ we chatted with Shelley Arnusch, a writer and associate editor with Avenue Magazine in Calgary, and author of the children’s book Too Many Teddies. Shelley’s work has also appeared in several skiing and adventure publications including a new commemorative book celebrating the 50th anniversary of Whistler Blackcomb.
Writer & Associate Editor, Avenue Magazine
What is your guilty media pleasure?
There’s a restaurant and food-industry blog in the Gawker empire called “Kitchenette” and every Monday they publish real emails from servers and other people in the industry about nightmare customers, horrible restaurant bosses and just all-round bizarre behaviour. It’s a weekly dose of “restaurant confidential” and I read it religiously. Along the same theme, there’s also a recurring confessional feature on Gawker’s Gizmodo site where IT professionals spout off about their worst job experiences that’s equally enthralling to me, even though I’m likely to be one of those people whose problems can be solved by turning it off and on again.
What story that you’ve written are you most proud of?
Ironically, it’s not the story that won me a National Magazine Award (that was a fun, service piece, a good read but not exactly my best work). There are two features that I’ve written for Avenue Magazine that stand out for different reasons. I was really happy with my story on the rise and fall of Electric Avenue, since I feel like it did a really good job of capturing a time and a feeling in the city. Everyone (of a certain age) has an Electric Avenue story and I think I was able to successfully tap into that sentiment people have of equal parts nostalgia for the good times and head-shaking wonder at the stupidity that went down. Every now and then, that piece gets a blip of social media action, so you can tell people are still talking about it.
On the flipside, I also really love the story I did on fine-art photographer Dianne Bos, whose Bowness studio was destroyed in the 2013 flood, along with much of her archives and camera equipment. Writing about tragic events is never easy, but I felt that the story did a good job of paying tribute to her artistic process and showing how creativity isn’t something you can just wash away.
What advice would you give to PR professionals about working with journalists?
The first thing is to make it easy to get in touch with the client! That seems like such a simple thing, but these days, journalists have a lot of irons in the fire, doing print content, web writing, often taking their own photos and shooting their own video. If you can easily access the client it greatly increases the chances of your story getting picked up. On the same note, make sure your releases are really concise. You’ll lose editors if you put out an epic release. And make hi-res photo imagery easily available (without having to go through you if possible). This is especially true if you’re working for clients in the arts. Often, magazines will run an arts calendar-style feature and there’s usually a space for an image. If you provide a good-quality image with the release (or a link to download), there’s a good chance that spot will be yours.
Thank you, Shelley!
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