Posts Tagged 'media relations'

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)

Phone Calls—So 10 Years Ago?

By Megan Lane

Boston, 1999:

As a PR intern at the New England Aquarium, I spent my days faxing press releases to the Aquarium’s media list.  Amid busy signals, failed transmissions and paper jams, the news finally gets out.

I follow up with phone calls and try to create relationships with that voice connection.  Some coverage appears (in print) in local papers.

My friends and I have a phone tree of sorts, and use it to figure out plans for that evening.

On the way home, I fire up my Walkman and listen to the day’s news on terrestrial radio.

Out on the town that night, there’s no danger of embarrassing, drunken communications because I don’t have a cell phone or ready access to an email account.  With no digital camera, we have to wait for prints to come back from the photo shop, rather than immediately upload them.

Sound like the dark ages?  In reality, it wasn’t that long ago. Technologically speaking, it seems like a lifetime, and the way we conduct our personal lives—as well as our business lives as PR folks—has changed significantly.

Boston, 2009:

As an account manager at SHIFT Communications, I now spend my days pitching tailored stories to reporters with whom I’ve developed relationships.  A thought can move from an idea to an interview to the Internet in a matter of hours, sometimes less.  I’m not even sure where the fax machine is in our office.

My friends and I keep in touch on Facebook, and that’s where the majority of our plans are made.

Throughout the day, I get my news from Twitter, and Sirius satellite radio.

Out on the town, I have to forcibly disconnect from my BlackBerry to keep from reading emails, texts and breaking news because everything’s at my fingertips.  You can’t be social if you’re obsessed with your phone.

So what’s the common thread here?  Technology is completely different than it was 10 years ago, as is the way we consume media and execute our jobs as savvy, creative, informed PR pros.  But the one thing that PR hinges upon—indeed, the one thing that business hinges upon—is relationships.  And this is where I like to party like it’s 1999, get on the phone and really make a connection with the person on the other end.  Emails, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all great tools for opening the door and getting a reporter’s attention, but it’s face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact that cements a relationship, and an opportunity.  It’s easy to overlook this basic tool in this age of instant high tech.

We’re beyond the days of “smile and dial” at least when it comes to banging out a blanket pitch to an untargeted media list (well, we are, at least).  But research, rehearsal, smiling and then dialing is the right way not only to pick up interest in your current story, but to find out what makes reporters tick as individuals.  Know your reporter’s work.  Have your pitch down cold.  Be friendly and confident.  And if you get hung up on, try again next time.  It really does pay

So when you’re pitching, as tempting as it is to point and click, try this instead: Think. Breathe. Smile. Dial. Succeed. It still works.