Posts Tagged 'Journalism'

Chatting with blogger-turned-PR pro, Donna Ho

By Katelyn Cross (@Kcross_) and Puneet Sandhu (@puneet86)

Everybody knows Donna Ho (@donnatho) as one of SHIFT NYC’s kick-ass Account Coordinators. But what most people don’t know is that before joining the world of PR, Donna was a fashion blogger. Yep, that’s right. She ventured into the big, exotic world of fashion writing before making a switch to “the dark side.”

As PR people, we’re always looking for feedback from our media contacts, and looking to find better ways to work with them. Now that we had a (former) media person in our midst, we decided to take advantage of her experience in journalism and blogging. We asked Donna a couple of quick questions about switching over, and her thoughts on what we could do better as PR professionals. Check out her answers in the video below, and share your own two cents in the comments!

SHIFT and Media Bistro: The Conversation Continues

Media Bistro is the go-to source for jobs and recruiting for media professionals in journalism, on-line content, book publishing, TV, radio, PR, graphic design, photography, and advertising.

Media Bistro also throws kick-ass networking events.

August’s Media Bistro “Cocktails in Boston” event at Middlesex Lounge in Central Square (Cambridge, MA) was no different. It was filled with all sorts of media industry pros — PR veterans (young and old), social media junkies, novelists, freelance writers, journalists, photojournalists, creative designers, etc. The best way to summarize this event is to provide a quick rundown of just a few of the relationships I established there…

Melissa Pocek, “The Ring Leader” (@MelissaPocek) — Melissa Pocek hosted the event. Event attendees were clearly a dynamic mix of long-time Media Bistro members, first-time attendees and, of course, “friends of Melissa.” Melissa is a regular contributor to Boston media. Her journalism has covered national issues, local events, and professional profiles. For those unfamiliar with Melissa’s work, she’s a freelance writer focusing on topics ranging from health/wellness and fashion/lifestyle to budget/cheap living and food/wine. Learn more about Melissa by visiting her website — Melissa Pocek: A Collection of Writings.

Matthew Sandel, “The Novelist” — I had to throw this guy in here. He’s one of those mysterious novelists you’d only find at a Media Bistro event. He has been working on a comic novel for 5+ years and readily admits to suffering from what we all can relate to — frequent writer’s block. Cool take away from this conversation came when we were discussing climate change, renewables, etc. and Matthew informed me that President Reagan decided to remove the solar panels that President Carter had installed. Looking up the incident today, apparently Regan’s “people” thought that solar was a forward-thinking joke. Surprised I haven’t read more about this given the renewed focus on solar in recent years (or perhaps the documentation is out there and I’m just the jerk who didn’t take notice until now). For a full history lesson on the matter, check out The Forgotten History Blog. One last note on Matthew: he didn’t have a business card and promised to email me — at which point he made me promise I’d email him back (apparently he had his networking heart broken in the past). I’m happy to report we have since exchanges emails and plan to grab coffee next month. Matthew, if you’re listening, I hope this experience has restored your faith in Boston’s networking subculture that I so love… 🙂

Manya Chylinski, “The Freelancer” — Manya is the president and founder of Alley424 Communications. She is an experienced corporate communications writer focusing on a variety of topics including high tech, higher education and financial services, among others. If your clients are looking to hire a freelancer, Manya is a great option. For more information on her work, including her portfolio, visit On a side note, Manya and I are a photogenic pair as you can see in the picture accompanying this blog post (courtesy of @lauraimkamp, who we’ll get to later on).

Manya “The Freelancer” with Zach "The Conversation"

Georgy Cohen, “The Other Freelancer” — (@radiofreegeorgy) – A Somerville resident like myself, Georgy is an accomplished freelancer. She also serves as the manager of web content and strategy at Tufts University. Georgy is also the founder of Meet Content, a startup focused on helping higher education institutions create and sustain web content that engages and retains audiences. Check out Georgy’s personal website.

“The Emerson Grads” — Toward the end of the event, I met a charming group of Emerson College graduates who all have been working with great success in the journalism field since graduating in 2010. Finding myself caught up in this college reunion of sorts was my good fortune as these young women invited me in to their engaging conversation about digital media, the evolving online media landscape and the growing backlash against the overwhelmingly transparent nature of social sharing. The latter is not intended to suggest transparency is a bad thing, but more an acknowledgment that there is an increasing need for closed, privately-controlled online social communities. Here’s a quick rundown of my new Emerson alum friends:

  • @lauraimkamp – This girl does it all: photographer, writer, freelance multimedia journalist. In fact, she was the official photographer for this week’s event. The photo accompanying this blog post is courtesy of Laura. For a better understanding of all that this girl brings to the table, check out her personal website.
  • @kalannigan – Like myself, Katie is a true Somerville die-hard. She formerly wrote for the Somerville Patch and is currently an editorial secretary at’s Frontline. Check out her blog.
  • @MeenaGanesan – Another jack-of-all-trades in the media world, Meena is a weekend web producer at WHDH-TV.
  • @Nicolette_O – An impressive multimedia journalist, Nicolette is an insurance reporter at The Standard in Boston, which is New England’s leading weekly insurance publication.
  • @kailanikm – Kailani, an all-purpose journalist, was hired by the Boston Globe to help anchor the new editorial staff at Check out her personal website.

Let that last bullet serve as a reminder to everyone that this fall the Boston Globe will be divided into two parts, the free and the subscriber-focused In fact, for a better understanding of the reasoning behind the split, check out the recent Nieman Journalism Lab blog post — “Boston Globe creates a Twitter board for the newsroom.”

Last, I would like to give a shout out to a couple long-time industry friends I ran into at the event — social media branding guru @JeffCutler and my former Schwartz Communications colleague @ctanowitz. If you’re not familiar with Jeff, check out his website: Also, check out all the cool things Chuck is working on at his PR and social media shop — Fresh Ground.

So many more friends (new and old) to call out, but I’ll save that for my next networking event recap. Thanks for allowing me to steal the Slice stage for a bit. Have a wonderful day!

All the best,

Zach “The Conversation” Servideo (@ZachServideo)

Pressing the Press: Meet Andrea Salisbury, GateHouse News Media New England

By Matt Trocchio (@Trochman)

Although communication strategies for clients continue to evolve with the growth of social media and online publications, there is one area of news that continues to remain constant for audiences: the local news.  Are you treating these outlets like the key targets they are or as secondary thoughts?  Despite the fact that many consumers still turn to their daily papers and broadcast news for their updates, we in PR sometimes forget the power they wield.

The problem with this is that people sometimes don’t respect these outlets in their outreach efforts and the result can be sloppy pitches or poor relationship building.  As part of our ongoing “Pressing the Press” series we speak with GateHouse News Media New England’s Andrea Salisbury who is the Editor of the Dedham Transcript and the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.  Andrea shares with us her journey to focus on local New England news and how PR professionals can best work with her and other local outlets to give their clients some “home town love.”

How did you get started in journalism? 

That is a loaded question. The easy answer is I fell into journalism. My freshman year of college a professor encouraged me to “get published,” so I signed up for the newspaper and basically never left. After I abandoned the idea I would become a movie critic, I learned the true power of the press and how the written word informs and can change a community. After college I attended graduate school and, again, stumbled into a job on the copy desk of a daily newspaper designing sports pages. Five years later, my company decided I would make a good newspaper editor and gave me two papers to manage.

What drew you to the local news scene?

Community news is, in my opinion, where newspapers thrive. Everyone wants to read about their kid’s Little League game, school play or what’s happening in town government. Local news reporters hold town officials accountable and help to inform the public as to what is going on in their own backyard. As I said before, I fell into the local news scene, but I’ve fallen in love with it. I am there writing stories about breast cancer survivors, and crying along with them as they share intimate details. The local paper is there when the town celebrates the vote to build a new school. These moments that define a town are what attracts me to local news.

As editor of The Dedham Transcript, what are your main responsibilities?

Newspapers are a changing industry. In the two years that I’ve been the editor of the Dedham Transcript my role has shifted. I assign and edit stories for print and online, manage the daily Wicked Local website, design and proof the weekly print edition, take pictures, edit video and write stories. As a side note, I do this for two papers. I recently became the editor of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

How does it work to be a part of GateHouse News Media New England? Do you operate as a separate entity, or do you share information and act as one large outlet?

A little bit of both. GateHouse News Media is huge, there are hundreds of papers across the country, in my newsroom alone there are over 15 weekly papers printed. Editors tend to work within geographical regions when planning stories or assigning reporters to events. Basically, I work right next to editors of surrounding towns.

Can you tell me about one of your favorite stories that you had an opportunity to work on?         

This is an easy one, the Goosebusters. My assistant editor couldn’t get a photographer to accompany him on this story, so I got to tag along as the shooter for the day. Somehow he tracked down this family that had a very strange occupation, they were professional Goosebusters. Basically, the husband and wife team, along with their three border collies went from public parks to private businesses chasing away Canada geese. They have contracts with towns (including the Boston Common) and businesses to make the area uncomfortable for the geese. Twice a day this guy drives around with his dogs looking for geese. So, on this assignment, the family (including their two children), the dogs, my assistant editor and myself piled into the minivan and drove around looking for geese. It took 5 hours. But in the end, we had a fantastic local story, a fun video and hundreds of photos. This was perhaps one of the best days I’ve had “working.”

What do you look for in a good pitch from PR?

A good PR pitch is a local PR pitch. I get a call with a local family, a locally owned business, a local student and I am game for covering that story. On the other hand, if I get a call about a chain business doing something in my town with people from four towns away, I never pursue the story.

What are your main “pet peeves” when working with PR people?

I hate it when a PR person doesn’t know the newspaper they are calling. I get calls pitching a “local” story only to find out by local, they mean happening within a 30 mile radius. The best PR people do their homework, they know the town they are contacting and its deadlines. Calls on deadline days are almost never returned. The last pet peeve, press releases written in all caps, press releases not in Associated Press Style and press release photos that are too small for print, are just extra work on our end.

Anything else that you’d like PR peeps to know?

Keep it local. Newspaper editors are hungry for stories, we want to fill the paper, so make it easy for us. When you call a paper, make sure you know the community and make sure you have contact information right there.

SHIFT on Twitter