We have been reaching out to journalists and media professionals to chat with them about their experiences in the industry. For our latest ‘Questions for Journalists’ we had the opportunity to interview Chris Puglia, a journalist with 20 years experience in the industry. He has worked for newspapers in various roles from reporter to senior editor in Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. He is currently the editor of the Cochrane Eagle.
Editor, The Cochrane Eagle
In your experience, what is the best way to pitch to a small publication – directly to you, the editor, or to a different staff member?
It is best to go directly to the editor. We are the ones who ultimately decide the content and who will be writing the story. If you are going to pitch to a community publication, make sure it is relevant. That means ensuring the story has not just local interest but people who are involved locally, local sources and local impact.
What do PR people do that you dislike? Why?
If I respond saying we are not interested in the story, don’t send me multiple followups. You are not going to change my mind and it puts me off considering things in the future. Don’t ask to see the story in advance. Any newspaper worth its salt will never agree to this request and it will make it more unlikely we will work with you.
What will you never write about? Why?
Anything that advertises a product, service or a business unless it is unique and it is only in our coverage area. If you want to promote winter tires, energy efficient windows, Pizza Hut, or the latest in lawn care (etc) buy an ad. There might be opportunities for those types of stories in our special ad sections, but they are only available to advertisers. We will likely never write about anything that is general interest unless it directly involves our coverage area. Finding one optometrist in town to comment on why a study on eye strain is important does not count (this has happened), we will not write about this either, it’s not news.
To summarize, this newspaper is only interested in stories of news value. We don’t provide space for free to subject matter that should be advertised. The worst mistakes a PR person can make is telling newspapers how they should do their jobs and sending generic press releases with no local hook.
Thanks for chatting with us, Chris!
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