Eye On PR  

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MAYO kicks off Year 2001 with a new feature  on its website "Eye On PR" Everything from tricks of the trade to getting on the radar of high-tech editors and industry analysts to making your company newsworthy. Nationally recognized freelance writer 
George S. McQuade III reports on the PR industry. 

Week of April 2, 2001 

Panelist included: Laura M. Holson, west coast correspondent, 
New York Times; Dawn C. Chmielewski, personal technology 
reporter, San Jose Mercury News and Timna Tanners, reporter, 
Reuters business news wire service.



"Conversations, not pitches work best for me," said Laura Holson, west coast correspondent for The New York Times, told more than 350+ PR pros.

Laura Holson, NY Times West Coast correspondent, says pitching is too predatory.

"Pitching is too predatory, we just want conversations, and my editors want the same when I'm trying to sell your story to them," she told the Business Wire-sponsored workshop March 27, 2001 at the Santa Monica Flying Museum.

Other panelists included Dawn Chmielewski, personal technology reporter, San Jose Mercury News, and Timna Tanners, reporter at Reuters.

"I like faxes, because the mind works to fast when you read email, the fax makes me stop and think," continued Holson.

Worst telephone pitch is at deadline--Tanners

Timna Tanners, a reporter for Reuters, prefers e-mail pitches to faxes.

"Probably my worst pitch came over the phone," said Tanners. "I received a call from someone who said 'We're having a fundraiser,' and she would not get off the phone for 10 minutes. Please don't fax me, I prefer email, and I don't mind being pitched stories."

Tanners has been a journalist with Reuters for nearly five years. Since arriving in Los Angeles two years ago, she has covered the oil markets and, most recently tracks technology stocks and video game companies.

Don't call to chat at 5:00 p.m.-Chmielewski..

Dawn Chmielewski, personal technology reporter, San Jose Mercury News, doesn't want to pitched near deadline.

"Don't call me after 3 p.m., our editors are cranky because our deadline is 5:30 for stories, and 7:00 p.m. for page one stories. So if you don't have breaking news, don't call, said Chmielewski. "We have about 40 people tripping over each other for good stories."

Chmielewski covers entertainment technology for the Mercury News. She has worked as a journalist for nearly 18 years, most recently as a technology writer and columnist for the Orange County Register. She co-hosts a technology talk show on the Orange County News channel and appeared as a guest on CNNfn and KCET, Los Angeles.

Answer basic questions about your company

"Be able to answer basic technology questions like 'What is it?,' 'Why should I care?,' and 'What does it do?'," said Chmielewski.

"I realize you have to satisfy your partners or clients with those sloppy quotes we never use, but do us a favor: send your news release, but also send an English translation before it," she said.

Tell me about the people behind the technology–Holson

"I want stories of people in technology, not just technology and I would prefer a pitch with some context," said Holson. "For example, if it's new and a trend, that's more interesting than a pitch to profile a company. I'm more interested in how a company fits into the overall picture of the technology."

Holson, a native Californian, got her master's degree in journalism at the University of Missouri, Columbia in 1990 and worked in California for three years before moving to New York. There she was a feature writer for Smart Money. She moved to the Times in 1998 to cover the global mergers and acquisitions boom, and, since October of last year, has been working in Los Angeles.

Dawn Chmielewski, personal technology reporter, 
San Jose Mercury News
fields questions from PR Pros.  

Editors want emerging technology/successful Internet company stories–Tanners

"There is no money limit on the size of the company and we do want to hear from successful companies making money over the Internet and how the Internet is changing the way corporations operate," said Tanners.

Napster was cited as a good example, because it is setting trends and it is becoming the music agenda for the whole industry on the Internet.

Laura M. Holson, west coast correspondent,                            Timna Tanners, reporter, center)
New York Times                                                                                Reuters business news wire service

Give us the CEO–Holson/Tanners

"I love it when a CEO calls," said Holson. "Most CEOs are scared to death to talk to the media, but I actually have great relationships with CEOs and that makes a difference."

"We always talk to the CEO, and we have a good relationship, which is necessary in building trust," said Tanners. "We used to be more regional, and a I remember when a PR pro would leave a voice mail, which became a logistical nightmare. Call the bureau first, because it might be a different person each time you call."

Stay away from fancy gadgets, ‘bells and whistles'–Holson

"I hate webcasts, because they don't look like they should, and the only thing that works is Real Networks. I'm already on my computer enough all day to write the story. The last thing I want to do is sit and watch one on my computer," said Holson.

Emulex false news release "broke a lot of rules" 
says San Jose Mercury News

“That story (Emulex false news release that sent stocks spiraling last Summer) broke a lot of rules and tripped a lot of minds,” said SJ Mercury News’ Chmielewski.  “Usually bad news happens at 4 p.m. on a Friday, after the market closes. Companies have a habit of making announcements then.”


 “We go for accuracy, news and quality, and if it doesn’t look right, we pull it. We don’t look at Internet Wire,” said Timna Tanners of Reuters. “If its breaking news I will look at PR NewsWire and Business Wire stories until 1:00 p.m., and maybe I will use one. When it is not earnings season maybe more.”

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