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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 friends, to experience something new and fun. I’ve visited 54 distilleries in 15 months and this finding was one I didn’t expect, but have truly enjoyed exploring.
Q: With the rise of social media and digital, what are some of the main changes you have seen?
A: Food sections used to be almost all recipes — that was the backbone. However, not long after I started, people were still interested in recipes, but they wanted to know how to do the more intricate parts of the recipes, not just the ingredients and the amounts. There was a heyday of learning to cook with whole, local ingredients, using specific techniques.
No one goes to the newspapers for recipes anymore. They look to Google, Pinterest and all the other websites. It amazes me that there are still two main players that have strong recipe sections — The New York Times and the Washington post. They grabbed what was left of the recipe coverage niche, did it well and now it really doesn’t exist for the rest of us. We had to follow the audience and change what we wrote about. I became very aware of my audience. For instance, the print readers are going to skew older, while my newsletter (sign up for Stir It Up here!) reaches a much wider audience. This plays into what information goes where.
We have also become more deliberate on how we handle photos, SEO keywords, the delivery, timing and so much more. With information being put out instantaneously, we must be ready at any time to deliver and act on a quick turnaround.
Q: What can chefs, restaurants and PR pros do to help you out?
A: Pictures. I want high-resolution photos (jpeg format) with permission to run them right from the start. Waiting around or having to run out to get a picture can totally blow your lead time on a breaking story, which is so important these days.
Whatever I’m are working on, I’m always ready for a breaking story to come in, to drop everything and get it out. Breaking news is breaking news, but I can’t rely on it, I can’t plan for it, and I never know when it’s coming. I have an idea of what might be coming down the line and I’ve been watching, but I can’t predict when it is going to bloom. I also understand that representatives are very strategic on who they are going to give it to first, whether it is me or another outlet in town. They have to think about who is most likely to use something well, who has the audience for it and which one is likely to pay off for the coverage they want. I never feel like I’m being played, I understand. I just hope that I can continually prove that if you help me out, I can do a good job for you.
I also want them to know that I approach everything like a true journalist. I am very skeptical. If you give me a story I am usually going to follow up with questions and ask you to prove it. My role is always journalism, no restaurant consulting, no pay-for-play and I rarely accept free meals. For me, it always comes down to the basic rules of ethical journalism. We always look at what the readers want, what they need to know and what they are going to get out of me writing about this restaurant or following this story.
Q: What is your best advice as we venture into the new year?
A: Be ready for constant change. If I’ve seen anything over my 40 years in the business, it’s that things are always changing. “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
I also encourage you to read widely beyond the area you are focused on for anything to have context.
Kathleen can be found on Twitter @kathleenpurvis, on Instagram @kathleenpurvis and at the The Charlotte Observer.
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 email@example.com.
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; advertising has its place and is important to the paid-earned-owned triangle but you can’t rely ONLY on advertising (especially not on old-school, traditional advertising). On the other hand, consider a public relations tactic like blogging. According to InsideView, B2B businesses that blog achieve 67% more monthly leads than those that do not. Bottom line: PR is the big thing that comes with an extremely small price tag.
“If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget I’d spend it on PR!” – Bill Gates
We’re counting our blessings for more than just PR of course, including our family, friends, clients and fellow marketers and business owners in town. I’m also thankful you got to the end of this blog. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
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 up and ask what’s going on or if they have anything I would be interested in.
Any big don’ts that turn you off?
Some big don’ts would be people asking me to print a press release directly. Nope, cardinal sin number one. Also, asking to see a story before it goes to print or changing a direct quote when we have it recorded. This is what you’ve signed up for and you must trust us to do our jobs. Of course, if there is a true issue we will go back and fix it.
Thanks to Ashley for giving us a glimpse into her life at The Charlotte Post.