Trisha and I had the opportunity to meet with journalist Mike Pacheco last week. As an avid sports fan myself, and with all of the recent energy around Charlotte professional sports teams, we thought it would be fun for us to conduct an interview, and for you to hear from someone that is (1) focused on sports and (2) in broadcast.
Mike is a TV/radio play-by-play announcer, talk show host, update anchor, studio host, reporter, executive producer, producer, consultant, event emcee and occasional TV sports anchor. Among the many projects underway, he is working with the Carolina Panthers as a member of the post-game show radio and web stream broadcasts. Recently, he began working as a sports producer for NBC News Channel. He is also involved with the Charlotte Knights Radio Broadcast and Winthrop University. And, he is writing a blog called “The Pacheco Papers.”
Q: What is your favorite role and why?
Probably for me doing radio play-by-play is what I enjoy the most because you have complete control of the canvas. Radio is theater of the mind and so most of the people that are listening won’t be at the ballpark. So, you’re trying to paint the picture, invite the people in so they feel that they are sitting next to you watching a ballgame so it’s really very descriptive. It’s probably the modern version of writing from 300-400 years ago. It’s storytelling and that’s the difference between radio and television play-by-play because television is more of an analyst’s and director’s medium.
Q: What does your preparation look like for a game?
For baseball, it’s a bit different because it’s every day. I try to read our local paper. I’m old fashioned when it comes to reading the actual newspaper and check out The Charlotte Observer every day. I was a paper boy and it’s ingrained in me. I’m big on trying to keep up on the usual suspects – MLB.com, ESPN and Sports Illustrated. With minor league baseball it’s a little bit different because a lot of the guys we deal with aren’t household names so I’ll do some more digging. MLB has MLBpressbox.com, so I check out other teams’ media guides. Sometimes you have to dig a bit more than other sports. I’ll look at other team’s parent clubs because a lot of guys’ bios are in there. So in general, it’s an hour or two of reading – looking at players I’m not as familiar with and even doing a google search. Or, if they are one or two years out of college, information will still be on their college site. Of course, social media is a big resource as well. And, talking to coaches and players – the old school way – is still important because we’re trying to get nuggets and tidbits, not just basic facts.
Q: You had some media relations and marketing roles in the past and since we’re in PR & marketing, we’re interested in your thoughts and experience in those areas. And, when you hear the team “public relations” – what does it mean to you?
Ironically, when I was in college, I was a political science major and since I was the newspaper boy and we always had the television on at home, I was up on current events, sports and politics. In college, I thought it would be a dream job to be a press secretary for a senator or congressman. So, I’ve always been interested in that relationship – working with the media and trying to craft a story whether you’re in marketing or PR. You’re trying to create a brand and disseminate that information…in a way that is fun and entertaining. My career path has been very different but I don’t think I’d be where I am now without everything I’ve done. My parents always taught me to have a back-up plan so I’ve always tried to learn as much as I can, and do as many different things as I can – especially because broadcast is so volatile. To me, both sides need each other (media and PR professionals).
Q: What is the best interview you ever conducted? Who is the most famous person you’ve ever interviewed?
One theme that has developed this year at BB&T ballpark is that you never know who is going to show up. One of our executives came up to me and said Bill Parcells is going to be here tomorrow. So I said let’s see if we can interview him. Sure enough, next day, he’s in town. I was doing an on-field pre-game show with one of our players and I told the player that Bill was going to be there. We did our interview and then he yells over to Bill and says “Bill, I want to talk football with you.” So, Bill calls him over and they talk for a bit. Then, near the end of the game, he sat with me for an inning and we mostly talked about baseball – he’s a huge baseball fan actually – as well as what he’s doing these days. I’ve always thought he was fascinating – a great communicator and coach. Actually, he is indirectly responsible for my wife and me getting together because when she and I met at a bar years ago, he was on television at the bar, and we bonded over our interest in Bill! When I told him that, he got a big smile on his face.
Q: What is the funniest moment or “out-take” that ever happened to you?
This was back when I was working in Kannapolis and with a Christian station – we had to keep it clean; I didn’t broadcast on Sundays, no beer commercials, etc. We had a catcher that in his first game set the league record for pass balls. So, it’s later in the year and we’re at home and right behind home plate I had a huge crowd mike so we could hear the pop of the glove and crack of the bat. It’s a close game, we’re tied. They have a guy on third and it was the seventh or eighth inning and he’s running back and screams an expletive very loudly. I thought I was maybe going to get a phone call. Fortunately, I didn’t.
Today I want to highlight the success of one of our clients, Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop. Otherwise known as “Craft,” it’s a new all-in-one trio unique to Charlotte—a dedicated craft growler & bottle shop, beer garden and specialty grocery scheduled to open later this summer in South End. We were able to utilize the messaging we did with Craft to earn this great write-up in Charlotte Magazine.
The first thing we did when we began to work with Craft was understand their key differentiators and created the appropriate messaging to support their story. How did we do this? We identified their goals, audience and competitive landscape and created a “message map.” The map outlined what key messages to focus on and provided supporting facts and information to those messages. We also prepared them with several questions they could expect in media interviews or customer inquiries.
The messaging worked so well that when Craft owner Dan Davis spoke with the reporter he absolutely knocked it out of the park! He said the reporter’s eyes lit up every time he plugged in one of the talking points and at the end of the interview the reporter loved the concept and said, “You wouldn’t believe how many people I talk to who really don’t have anything that makes them different from anybody else.” Dan then proceeded to thank us and said the messaging really helped him to focus and get the “passion” across, not just the facts. Kudos to Dan for executing!
It was great to help Craft from inception, but chances are your business has been in existence for years. Are you relaying your message effectively? Are your co-workers? Your message needs to be clear, concise and consistent. Only then can you communicate effectively.
Are you a member of any professional marketing organizations in Charlotte? Do you want to be? I’m a board member of the Charlotte Marketing Association (CAMA) and I thought you may be interested in getting involved too. It’s great for networking, career advancement and educating yourself on the latest trends and tactics in marketing.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can register for our event on July 23 at 6PM at Kickstand to discuss our available volunteer opportunities. Want to become a member now? Join here.
Erik Spanberg covers government, sports business, hospitality and airlines at the Charlotte Business Journal (CBJ). He was kind enough to enjoy a quick cup of coffee with Trisha and me to tell us about his adventures in journalism. Learn more about Erik from our Q&A below.
Q: What is your favorite beat to cover and why?
Probably sports business and government because they have the most strife and chaos. While very different, they are similar in that they are still both about winning and losing. And, most people like sports and/or politics, so that makes it interesting to cover.
Q: What is your source of story ideas?
I come up with ideas, our editors and other staff writers provide ideas, and sometimes public relations people like yourself. Plus, you oftentimes just look at what’s going on; if you had a soccer story you were thinking about, now would be a good time to write it.
Q: What is the best interview you ever conducted? Who is the most famous person you’ve ever interviewed?
A couple of months ago I was co-hosting on Bo Thompson’s morning show on WBT and we had the impressionist comedian Frank Caliendo in the studio. He may not be the most famous but he was certainly the most entertaining interview I’ve ever done. And as for famous people, I think I would say the late Paul Newman, who spoke to me and a small group of reporters when the Petty NASCAR family built the Victory Junction camp for sick and disabled children. Sadly, he did not share his salad dressing recipe with me.
Q: How do you feel that the political landscape in Charlotte has evolved?
Politics in Charlotte is much more popular and active since I first moved to Charlotte 20 years ago. Recently, we’ve held the DNC here, we have one former mayor who is governor, and another former mayor who is part of President Obama’s cabinet.
Q: From a reporter’s perspective, how do you feel the Bobcats to Hornets change will impact your writing?
Bob Johnson and the Bobcats became a mess of a franchise. He said some dumb things, in other cases, some people around town didn’t provide as much support as Bob thought they would and the whole thing just fell apart. The team was mostly lousy, they lost tens of millions of dollars every year, and nobody liked the name or the logo. Now the Hornets name is coming back at the same time the team is getting better on the court and Michael Jordan seems to be finding his footing as an owner. People have an interest and hope in the NBA in Charlotte again and for me, as a reporter, it’s good to have something to write other than Groundhog Day versions of lose-lose-lose.
Q: How do you feel like you the CBJ has evolved?
The digital tide has certainly changed the way we work. The CBJ used to just be a weekly publication that came out on Fridays. Now, it’s a constant conversation with social media playing a big part in that. It makes us more relevant because we’re covering things every step of the way — not just once a week. Now we can take it every step of the way and that makes a big difference. And we’re doing more with TV, with radio and so on.
Q: How can communications professionals stand out and catch your attention?
I always tell people to think about ALL sections of the paper; there is an entrepreneur profile; someone could author a column or essay offering his/her point of view or opinion; if a company has someone that could serve as an expert, that is always useful — the key is to think about all different avenues. Also, photos are great as we sometimes include those in the back of the paper. Additionally, as you know, media is fragile. Sometimes it’s just all about the day that you catch us. On a slower day, for example, there may be more opportunity.
Last week our very own Trisha McGuire was able to catch up with Charlotte and Where® Charlotte magazine journalist, Virginia Brown. Check out this post from Trisha…
Like me, Virginia is a rarity – a Charlotte native. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Virginia worked at a law firm for a while but decided she wanted something different. She took the leap to change careers and pursue the field of journalism. Bags packed, she moved to the windy city where she not only gained a great education at Northwestern University, but also got to experience the COLD winters of Chicago. Fun! Upon graduation, she quickly moved back to Charlotte to work….and thaw out.
At Charlotte magazine, Virginia is an associate editor covering a broad range of topics, including travel, history and nature. But, she primarily focuses on travel, whether that be day trips, family trips, or Caribbean coverage because of Charlotte-Douglas being such a great airport hub and her work as a travel editor for Charlotte Wedding (for honeymoons). She also handles many of of of the magazine’s feature packages, such as the recent Burger feature and an upcoming “50 Things Every Charlottean Should Do.” Additionally, she writes for Charlotte magazine’s sister publication, Home+Garden.
At Where® Charlotte magazine, Virginia covers anything from dining and shopping to museums and attractions. The magazine is really designed for travelers coming to the Queen City to give them the local, non-tourist perspective (e.g. she might mention 22 gallery in NODA as an out-of-the-way fun spot for a drink). The magazine, which is global in scope, typically hires editors from the city, not someone trying to learn the city, so that the editor can truly provide insider knowledge. She still covers the main attractions though. For example, she might cover the Justin Timberlake concert but then talk about five things around that concert that are fun facts or tips, and maybe mention the best place to park. She also edits Where’s annual Guest Book & Map.
When asked about her travel editorial roles at the two magazines, Virginia said “It’s the difference between showing off the city versus getting away from the city for a break.” She described that Charlotte magazine of course targets Charlotteans who know the city fairly well, whereas Where® magazine is for individuals from all over the country. “I’ve found that some of my twitter followers for Where® live here but want to give ideas to their friends and family who are visiting, so they can show off the city.”
Virginia was kind enough to let me play role reversal, serving as the journalist and ask her some questions. She also generously allowed me to paraphrase her responses!
Q: What is your source of story ideas?
For the Where® audience, I find myself constantly discovering and re-discovering areas around the city and then tweet to Where® followers. Oftentimes, it hits me when I’m not working; I may be at a café with a friend. For the Where® audience, I try to think about transportation – places that have easy access, taxis around, or hotel hubs like Ballantyne & Southpark. I also think about business travelers coming in weekly, from Monday through Thursday. I try to come up with a cool happy hour spot that they haven’t seen yet. Some of my followers tweet about what they want. Other times, someone may just give me an idea.
Q: Do you ever receive pitches from PR/communications pros and if so, which stand out?
I do. I get lots of them for Charlotte magazine, but not so much for Where®. The ones that stand out are the ones that are the most targeted and you can tell the person did their research. They maybe reference a story that we did last month or last year. We can always use ideas. If they are evergreen stories, we might be able to fit them in an issue where, at the last minute, a story falls through and we need to replace it. In Charlotte magazine, we have a front of book section called “Buzz” that showcases people doing really cool things or local businesses.
Q: What is the favorite story you have written?
I wrote a story called “Rooted” in August 2013 about the city’s trees. I wrote about how important it was to have an urban tree canopy and what it means for the vibe of the city. I thought about, what if they all went away? I’m an outdoors-y person and I grew up here, so the story was important to me. Charlotte is actually in the top 10 of urban forests. Some places, we have 200 year old trees in the middle of large urban areas, largely thanks to codes and laws to protect the trees. I heard from lots of people after the story was published, and received lots of letters. It always makes it seem more worthwhile when you hear that a story you wrote affected people. That story took me about three weeks to a month to complete; that includes the reporting, writing and revising. It’s going to be in a book called “27 views of Charlotte,” put out by Eno Publishers this fall.
Q: What is your favorite neighborhood?
That’s a hard question. Sometimes I’ll want to go to a wine bar in Southpark, sometimes a dive bar in NODA. That’s the nice thing about Charlotte; it caters to differences. So, depending on my mood, I have a lot to choose from. I don’t spend much time in the suburbs but when I do go, I find little pockets that are neat. Most recently, I was visiting a friend in Huntersville and I found it so pretty. Charlotte is nice because it’s so diverse in what it offers.
Q: What is your lead time for your magazines?
For Where® magazine, it’s about a three-week minimum lead time, and it is a bi-monthly magazine. For Charlotte magazine, it’s about two months. For example, for the August issue, our closing date is July 3 but we started writing in early June. But, for evergreen stories, we can sometimes fit them in last minute.