Blog


Q&A w/ Queen City Weekend

Posted by on 4:18 pm in Blog | 0 comments

  I recently had coffee with WBTV’s local content producer, Maggie Solomon, to discuss her brainchild, Queen City Weekend.   Q: Queen City Weekend is refreshingly different. How did it come about?  A: I was a television reporter in Panama City, Fla., and realized that I really valued storytelling as opposed to breaking news. I happened to run across this opportunity, applied, and the next thing you know I got the job and was heading to Charlotte! Q: For those who don’t know, tell us a little about what Queen City Weekend really is.   A: All our stories are very video-driven. We value telling the story from the Queen City’s perspective, not the reporters’. You’ll notice everything we do is more documentary style. Our goal is for you to be able to go and find something you can do on any given weekend, whether you’re new to Charlotte or have been here for several years. It’s unique. It has been quite a ride and I’ve had a blast building it. Q: What’s one of your favorite stories you’ve covered so far?   A: Southern Grace Distillery in Mount Pleasant. The facility itself is actually an old prison! I enjoy finding unique things within driving distance of Charlotte, not just within the city limits. Q: Is Queen City Weekend just about the weekend?  A: Every day is someone’s weekend, but we do post a rundown of what’s going on each weekend. We have a calendar of events for folks to post to as well. Q: Are your stories sponsored or do they go through “editorial?”   A: We have a good mix. It really depends on the story and how much exposure our clients are looking for. Your readers are welcome to ping me for a media kit if they’d like. There are some additional options like WBTV’s Morning Break, depending on how the story is structured. Q: Do you have any advice for PR or marketing folks that would like to work with you?  A: Don’t be afraid to pitch me! What’s the worst that can happen, right? We love how-tos and upcoming events and attractions. You can connect with Maggie and Queen City Weekend through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or email Maggie directly at msolomon@wbtv.com. Don’t forget to use our hashtag...

read more

Q&A w/ CLT Blogger Laura Leigh Elliott

Posted by on 5:36 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Laura Leigh Elliott, the smiling face behind life and style blog, Louella Reese, let us in on how she is able to do what she loves full-time, the dos and don’ts of working with bloggers, and what she sees for the future. Check out our conversation below. How did you get started as a blogger and when did it turn full-time? Out of college I was as pharmaceutical representative; I was reading the same script in every office, wearing a uniform and my creative side was dying. During some down time, I came across a blogger on Pinterest and a few hours later, after reading ALL of her posts, I decided to give it a try. I didn’t have a plan or any kind of consistency when I started, but the more I blogged, the more I fell in love with it. That was four years ago and about a year ago I was able to make it my full-time job. Once I began making the same money blogging part-time that I was in my other full-time job, I felt comfortable making the jump and knew I could succeed even more if I was doing it full-time. Also, the flexible schedule allows me to spend more time with my husband and do the things I truly enjoy. What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome? The hardest part for me was reaching out to companies, pitching myself and not being afraid to ask for money. I had to look at it as a business, not just a passion project, get out of my own head and grow my confidence. I have come a very long way since the beginning and enjoy helping others find that voice inside themselves too.   Another hard aspect is letting whoever you are working with know just how much work goes into a blog post about their product. Sometimes I might have to get supplemental items for the shoot, schedule a photographer or work a clothing item in with my current wardrobe, which can take additional time and effort. Many times, companies don’t think about compensating you for this time, so you have to explain what all is involved. Where do you see blogging world going in the future? I think it is around for the long haul. However, I do think that bloggers are evolving into influencers and are focusing in on one or two outlets, instead of having a blog and every form of social media. Long-form blogging is time consuming to write and sometimes for readers to keep up with, so more influencers are using social media as their main outlet. I also see more brands, marketers and PR firms going to influencers instead of celebrities. Not only will they get more bang for their buck, but they will also see influencers as better able to relate to the people they want to touch, compared to celebrities. There are so many brands and companies out there that this will only continue to grow. What entices you to work with a brand, company, PR firm, etc.? There are a few factors that come into play when I am choosing what to say “yes” to. I get a good vibe right off the bat if I feel like whoever I am working...

read more

Q&A w/ WCNC’s Lifestyle Reporter

Posted by on 7:31 pm in Blog | 0 comments

I recently sat down with one of our favorite early morning lifestyle reporters, Hannah Welker at WCNC. She is a hoot! Take a gander below. This may give you just the information you need to work with Hannah, landing yourself on Charlotte’s NBC affiliate. Q: Hi, Hannah! Tell us about your role at WCNC. A: I’ve been with WCNC for two years in June. Oh my gosh it has gone so fast. Let me tell you a little secret – I think I have the best job at the station because I get to do all the fun stories and show off the positive activities and events going on in Charlotte. I am the feature/lifestyle reporter so it’s a great way to see the city and meet some amazing people, and then turn around and show my segments to our viewers. I love to share my experiences and let people wake up with something positive. Q: How do you book your shows? How is the decision made as to what you’re covering each morning? A: It’s a collaborative effort. It’s on me to seek things out and book the shows but I also have an amazing assignment editor and executive producer who are sending things my way as well. You’d be surprised how hard it is to get people out of bed at 5 in the morning! Q: How is the digital world changing what you do? A: We constantly have meetings about how important social media is. Your presence online is just as important, if not more important than what you’re doing on TV. How many times are you watching your TV while on your phone, while also looking at your tablet? It’s a lot of competition so we’ve got to be on those other screens as well. It’s only going to get more digital. Look at late night talk shows – not everyone stays up to watch Jimmy Fallon but so many others catch him on social. I need to do the same because not everyone is up with me at 6 in the morning. Q: What would you like to share with PR professionals? A: 1) Answer your phone. I am so serious when I say that! Give me your cell phone number. We are on a strict timeline, so I am more likely to work with someone I can count on, is excited and responsive. One person I really enjoy working with is Steven Cole from Center City Partners. He’s always on top of things, has great ideas and/or connects me with others. 2) Make sure it’s visual and not too promotional! Remember: we are not here to promote your product or service; we are covering fun and interesting stories. Q: Tell us something about you NOT work related! A: I was a college gymnast! I competed at the University of Illinois. Go ILLINI! I always loved performing, so those skills helped me transition into broadcasting after I was done with gymnastics. As you can imagine, I LOVE the Olympics both summer and winter, so I’ve been glued to my TV. You can find Hannah on Twitter at @hannahwelker, Instagram at hannahwelker or email her at...

read more

Q&A w/ The Charlotte Observer’s Food Editor

Posted by on 7:32 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Our latest Q&A participant should need no introduction as she is a seasoned newspaper veteran who has served as a journalist since 1978, and as a food editor since 1989. As an award winner, cookbook author and James Beard committee member (among many other things), Kathleen Purvis has seen a thing or two in the food world and we were so thankful to be able to sit down with her recently. We talked about food inspiring hard discussions; her latest venture; and her advice for you. Take a look into her world: Q: Of course, we first must ask, why food? A: I started out as a hard-news journalist. I was a police reporter, national wire editor, general assignment reporter, and when I arrived in Charlotte in 1985, a page designer. However, coming from a family that cooked a lot, I always found myself intrigued by the food section and I wanted to learn more. At the time, many women were veering away from writing the food section because they didn’t want to get pigeonholed as just a women’s page writer, but I found that there was some good news to be found there. If you write about anything through the lens of food you can tell some really good stories. I started writing those stories, forced my way into the food section and looked at it with a wider lens of news and culture as well. Q: Your recent article, which used cornbread as a catalyst to talk about race in the south, won an award. What inspires you to dig deep into these stories past just the food? A: People want to emotionally engage with stories. And often, the ones that engage people are also the ones that start arguments and inspire intense feelings about the subject. To get to those takes a lot more analytical thinking and many times you must write about things other people are afraid to write about. I was told, “not to go there,” on the cornbread story because it would cause an argument and tension. Yet, I’ve found that if we can start the discussion with something a little less threatening, like putting sugar in cornbread, then it can ease that tension and then we can talk about something deeper and more important. On the surface, writing about the difference in cornbread recipes seems funny but people really have intense feelings about their food. Sharing your food differences and similarities with someone can lead you to become comfortable talking about more profound issues. Q: What is the latest venture you are working on and what have you learned from it? A: I’ve been working on a travel/food book focused on touring southern craft distilleries. One of the things I found interesting was that this kind of travel hits Millennials and Baby Boomers, but it doesn’t hit the Gen Xers. The Gen Xers have stuff to do on the weekends – they are settling in, buying a home, having kids and don’t have the time to travel to do new experiences. But the other groups do. However, they go out for completely different reasons. The Millennials want to tell a story on their social media feed to all their followers. The Baby Boomers want an excuse for an experience, to see their...

read more

Q&A w/ CBJ’s Caroline Hudson

Posted by on 3:34 pm in Blog | 0 comments

We recently sat down with Charlotte Business Journal’s (CBJ) newest reporter, Caroline Hudson, who covers banking, finance and technology. We wanted to get to know her a little better and understand how best to work with her. That is our job, right?! Q: Hi, Caroline! Tell us a bit about yourself! How’s the new gig going? What attracted you to the CBJ? A: I’m originally from Greensboro but I was in Greenville, N.C., for the past 2.5 years where I did more general assignment work with a daily publication writing about everything and anything. I’m enjoying my time at CBJ where now I can focus and home in on one particular beat.  My predecessor really set the stage for me, and I’m so glad she did. I’m walking into great relationships and have spent a lot of time my first few weeks cultivating those by networking with people and looking for potential sources.  I generally do a story or two a day, but I’m so grateful that my bosses gave me that time to really get to know and understand the landscape. One thing that attracted me to CBJ was the tenure of its reporters, mostly all being there for several years. Tenure really says a lot about an organization and, in particular, a newsroom. Q: How do you think your time will be spent within your beats? A: Definitely a focus on banking and financial services, but also touching fintech, technology and startups. There’s so much going on here!   Q: Any tips for PR professionals who would like to work with you? A: Yes. Don’t be afraid to talk to me. A lot of people in the industry are trained to be on guard around reporters, which I understand and makes sense, but the vast majority of journalists aren’t out to get you or looking for dirt. So, if I ask you a simple question, I’m truly just looking for the answer to that question. Another thing I’ve noticed is that I receive a lot of quotes that are heavily edited. Readers are smart and know what canned copy looks like. Keep in mind the reader wants to have a conversation (via a quote) without actually having to have a conversation. Q: How is social media impacting your job? A: Social is a very important part of what I do. I’m now focusing on building a base on Twitter — and other channels — but social media is a great source for story ideas. It’s such a relaxed and comfortable form of communication. Story pitches from PR professionals still usually come via email. We also break a lot of news on social since it’s in real time.   Q: What’s your mantra on photos? A: We try to take our own since we have a great photographer on staff, but sometimes the schedule just doesn’t permit so it’s nice when companies do have something on hand, as a backup, to illustrate the story if need be. A huge thanks to Caroline Hudson. She can be found on Twitter @CBJHudson or email at...

read more

Giving Thanks: Feasting on Public Relations’ Benefits

Posted by on 12:30 pm in Blog | 0 comments

At Pivot PR we geek out over public relations (PR) and during this month of Thanksgiving, I am sharing why we are thankful for this stellar segment of marketing. And just so you don’t think we’re absolutely cuckoo, I’ve included some quotes from all-star business folks. They seem pretty thankful for PR too. Thank-point #1: Lasting Memories Which sticks out most in your mind? The store-bought pumpkin pie or the time spent with grandma every year making the pumpkin pie? Exactly. Along those same lines, how long does the 30- to 60-second paid advertising spot stick in your brain? Memories can’t be fabricated or paid for. They must be organic and that’s exactly what public relations is. Whether it’s media relations, community relations or influencer relations that’s behind the scenes of the article, event or social media post that creates a lasting memory with you, it’s all thanks to public relations. As Barbara Corcoran, sharkette on The Shark Tank, stated at an Inc. conference, “If you’re not being quoted in the press, you’re losing market share by losing limelight.” Thank-point #2: Dinner-Table Conversation Do you sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table and discuss the banner ad that was served up to you 5x while you were reading an article, or do you talk about the article you saw maybe even just one time? (You might argue that you will poke fun at an ad but how many of you can remember WHICH product the ad is actually marketing?) Forbes magazine wrote, “Data from influencer marketing platform MuseFind shows that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement.” An influencer could be a traditional journalist or perhaps a blogger or average person like you or me who has built an impressive following by covering a topic (e.g., food) as a hobby. Thing is, you believe them, don’t you?! Public relations efforts reach these folks and you pay more attention and believe what they say more than you do ads. Do you believe what paid ads (i.e., a brand) tell you? And lastly, think about the buyer process with B2C or B2B customers: consumers are savvy these days and start their buying process by researching way before they contact you or step in your store, restaurant, etc. With public relations, you have blogs, media stories, social media content, reviews and more that consumers can consume – and that can tip the scales for them to decide on YOUR company! Not to mention the benefits in Google by way of constant content. “Publicity is absolutely critical. A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front page ad.” – Richard Branson Thank-point #3: Big Things Come in Small Packages With gift-buying holidays around the corner, let’s use that as our analogy here. Sure; you could spend thousands of dollars on a gift but will it have meaning? Will it be memorable? Will it make the recipient happy and feel loved? Or could you make something uber thoughtful from scratch or spend half the cost of the super expensive gift but tailor it to the recipient’s interests and have it be the gift that they never forget? Advertising costs can be through the roof and to point #2, will it even achieve your objectives? Don’t get me wrong;...

read more

Q&A With Charlotte Post’s Ashley Mahoney

Posted by on 12:17 pm in Blog | 0 comments

We recently caught up with Ashley Mahoney, multimedia journalist for The Charlotte Post. She shared with us her thoughts on what sets the Post apart, how she turned a family tragedy into a way to help others, and the importance of knowing who you are pitching to. What is unique about The Charlotte Post? What sets you apart from other outlets in Charlotte? We are unique because we are covering almost exclusively what is going on in Charlotte. There is a lot going on outside of Charlotte, but we aren’t the Washington Post or the Seattle Post; we are the Charlotte Post. For example, in sports, you are not going to find the scores from every NFL game that happened that weekend, but you will find stories about most of the area teams. We have also started covering futbol (soccer, Queen City Football Chronicle) more extensively, which is unique. We like to provide news from the perspective of those who historically haven’t been acknowledged by many of the major outlets; we have been “The Voice of the Black Community Since 1906.” How do you reach people outside of the weekly paper? We have recently started two podcasts; Sports Charlotte is all about Charlotte sports and the other is more political, called The Stump. It’s been a great way to reach more people who want to be informed about what is going on, but may not pick up a paper or go to an event. For example, with our recent interviews with the mayoral candidates, people didn’t have to buy a ticket or show up at a specific time to hear from them. They could tune in any time, while they were driving, while they were walking their dog and trust us to ask the questions they wanted the answers to. Are there any big projects you are currently working on? Yes! My mom died of cancer in August. We started a cancer awareness series called Racing Against Cancer. We wanted to raise awareness about cancer, while providing support and information. We have discussed what cancer is, what the treatment options are, how it impacts you financially, different ways to deal with the news and more. It is targeted at not just the patient, but also all those people who are fighting alongside them and who need to be educated. We have been able to disseminate the information in a way people can more easily digest on their own time, when they are not terrified sitting in a doctor’s office. I am not a doctor, I am not on the Fortune 500 list, I am just a journalist in Charlotte. However, I can write about these things and help make it easier for people going through it. What is your best advice for PR firms looking to reach you? The relationship is key. As cliché as that sounds, it really is about the individual and their knowledge of who we are at the Post. You can tell when someone sends you the exact same email that’s been sent to hundreds of other people. When the sender knows who we are, what our mission is, what I write about, it makes it a lot easier. After I develop that relationship, I also begin to go back to that person, call them...

read more

Q&A With Charlotte Center City Partners’ Steven Cole

Posted by on 12:41 pm in Blog | 0 comments

  You may or you may not be familiar with Charlotte Center City Partners (CCCP). Because we are a public relations (PR) agency with clients in Uptown, it’s crucial for us to have relationships with people like Steven Cole, Director of Communications. So, we caught up with him recently to hear what he had to say about CCCP and best practices for PR and communications professionals.   For those who aren’t familiar, tell us a little about CCCP. We are a 501(c)(4) that collaborates with and convenes organizations, government and non-profits to make center city and South End a more livable, workable and playable place. Creating one central hub of employment and culture is great for the city because the infrastructure is already in place. We perform functions ranging from economic development, strategic planning and quite a few events like the Thanksgiving Day Parade and Charlotte City festivals. We also manage the 7th Street Market and Charlotte B-cycle.   Is your background in communications? I practiced PR in the army for 8 years. I spent time with the Honor Guard doing media relations in Afghanistan and working jointly with the international agency, Fleishman Hilliard. Some of my most recent work was in Los Angeles in the film and TV industry where I did some fun and interesting things like product placement and brand management with entertainment media.   What skills and experiences have you taken from the army and applied to your role at CCCP? Time management, which I know most PR/marketing pros can appreciate! Also, something that’s more similar than I thought is the importance of organizational thinking — always relying on and reminding yourself of the organization’s mission to help keep you on track.   You have a newsletter, right? What’s its purpose and how can marketing folks work with you? Absolutely; it’s weekly, and you can sign up through charlottecentercity.org or our Facebook page here. The format can differ slightly depending on what’s going on but we typically have a feature article written by someone on staff, then we’ll also repost articles from other sources highlighting different events and economic development interests. I encourage anyone within our constituency to send me relevant story ideas or events for consideration. You can email me at scole@charlottecentercity.org.   What’s your biggest PR pet peeve? I guess I wouldn’t call it a pet peeve, but people often think all you need is a relationship with a journalist to get quality coverage. Relationships are great, but you must have quality content first.   Any advice for PR folks in Charlotte? Build a diverse team of subject matter experts. That way, you’re not relying on one individual for all interviews and/or...

read more

Q&A With QC Exclusive’s Sunny Hubler

Posted by on 3:32 pm in Blog | 0 comments

    Tell us about your position as digital editor at QC Exclusive and how it is different from being a writer. What is your day to day like? I do a little bit of everything now! QC Exclusive is really small. There are seven of us who are full-time and only part of that is editorial. The rest is sales. Magazines are a little different than any other media form because they take longer to come out. We curate articles for the magazine As an editor, even though the official title is digital editor, I do a lot of the print stuff too: writing, editing, curating, helping with scheduling and then also assisting on photo shoots, as well as the website and all of the social media. I mean we all kind of have our hands in everything to a certain extent. When I was writing I was just writing and now it is a little bit of everything. And I still do the writing process too: setting up interviews, doing the interviews, transcribing the interviews, writing the piece — which is awesome, it’s all really fun. Our owner and editor is like an artist and is very passionate about the magazine. He does the layout. I think you can tell when you look at the magazine that the form and pictures matter to him a lot. How does QC Exclusive balance what goes in print and what goes online? Magazines are a little different than any other media form because they take longer to come out. We curate articles for the magazine that we know will look really good in print visually and that are a good story. But then it also must be something that isn’t super timely, because if it is and we miss it, then it doesn’t make sense to put it in the magazine. So, something that’s very timely we will put online. Sometimes there is a really cool story or something super popular in Charlotte, but there just isn’t a good way to photograph it. So many times, those work better for the website as well. And then everything that is in print, we stagger on the website about a week after the magazine comes out. Looking at what goes in the magazine and online, what does the split look like between earned and paid opportunities?   Well, it depends. We have advertisers who, for example, will get editorial if it makes sense for the magazine. But we also don’t take advertisers who we would never put in the magazine to begin with. We are definitely picky. And that’s one of the challenges with print right now; a lot of people don’t want just an ad anymore, understandably. I always tell people, ads are great for your brand but that’s not what is interesting about your business. We do stories on clients, but we don’t sell those (except for an advertorial section, which we just started doing again in the last couple months). The end of the magazine is a sponsored content section. But other that, story-wise, it is pretty much true editorial. As for you, what do you look for in your stories? What attracts you personally?   I really like people stories. A lot of times, even if that’s not the focus of the piece, say it is a restaurant opening and the focus may be more the actual restaurant itself, I enjoy getting to hear about the person who opened it. I really like that side of it. Sometimes it’s the main angle in an article and sometimes it isn’t, but I like digging that out either way. I’ve been in Charlotte for under 2 ½ years so pretty much everything going on in this city is still interesting to me. A lot of it is stuff I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of or done, which makes it fun for me personally....

read more

Q&A With Charlotte Observer’s Katie Peralta

Posted by on 1:59 pm in Blog | 0 comments

Big Fish in a Little Pond Katie, formerly a U.S. News & World Report economy reporter, moved to Charlotte, N.C., in 2015 and was hired on as the retail reporter. Her role has since expanded to cover breaking business news (e.g., HB2 issue, shooting protests) and sports business. She feels that she can make a big splash in a mid-sized city like Charlotte whereas her impact might be more like a drop in the ocean in Washington, D.C. She enjoys working alongside the award-winning staff at The Charlotte Observer – many of whom have won Pulitzers for their journalism. What Gets Katie Out of Bed When asked which stories she gets most excited to write, she very quickly stated it is when she can hold public officials or executives accountable – particularly if the story pertains to where the city’s/community’s/company’s money is going.  She noted that it’s also fun to write the short, quick stories, such as a new restaurant with a cult following or a business that conjures up nostalgia for her readers. Pitch Tips I was also able to elicit some information from Katie that can serve as pointers for any of you who do, or will be, pitching her in the future. What falls in the won’t-cover box? Executive role changes and awards. Mainly it’s because we all must ask ourselves the, “Who cares?” question, and when it comes to that type of “news,” the only folks who do care are within the four walls of your company. Katie, as do all journalists, works in a shrinking newsroom and time is money. She must dedicate her time to stories that truly interest readers – the stories that make readers pick up the newspaper or click the digital edition open every day. Also – don’t write her a novella of a pitch. Short, sweet and to the point is best. She’s even drawn in sometimes by one or two lines that offer her a teaser of a story – and especially something exclusive or breaking. Lastly, if she feels like a certain topic has been fully covered by CharlotteFive or other local outlets, she might very well decide to not cover as the story has been told to the local community and she will free up time to tell a different story. Here for You I asked Katie what she wants our readers to know about her and/or The Charlotte Observer. I promise I’m not just saying this because she will read this as well but I thought she gave an impressive answer – simple in words but grand in its meaning. She wants all of you to understand how accessible she and her colleagues are. A quick google search on Katie and you’ll find her email address and Twitter handle. She invites you to send her tips, comments, etc. at any time. I can attest to her accessibility! She is always responsive when my team and I send her pitches (maybe I can also give oursevles a pat on the back for writing good pitches?), and she responded immediately to my invite to participate in our Q&A series. She also expressed that she doesn’t have an agenda. She doesn’t insert her own opinions into her writing. She puts the onus on herself to tell you what...

read more