I recently spoke with KJ Jones, editor for Diesel Power magazine (part of The Enthusiast Network group) for my latest Media Minute! KJ is a great guy who we have worked with over many, MANY years and was kind enough to share his insights on the importance of working with PR professionals. Please feel free to contact KJ directly if you have a great story idea or brand that might a good fit for his publication – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please tell us more about your day-to-day as a journalist.
As Editor of Diesel Power, my day-to-day functions are more administrative than they are being a journalist. I make decisions regarding the topics we cover and stories that staff and freelance contributors work on each month, manage the brand’s budget and network/interact with readers/enthusiasts, shop owners and aftermarket parts manufacturers to learn what’s hot in the diesel scene. Prior to taking this position I was more hands-on as a journalist and did more investigating/researching and actual writing about diesel-related subjects. I still occasionally write Tech articles and event reports in addition to my monthly column.
What are some of your daily challenges in developing a story?
A solid answer to this really depends on what type of story it is; variables such as time/deadlines, cooperation from contributors and product availability for testing all come into play. One thing that I think is always one of the biggest challenges for any story is actually starting to write it. Coming up with ideas for stories is not that difficult. However, long ago, I came to agree that “writing the first sentence is the toughest task of creating any article” – whoever said this, is a genius.
What information is essential for you to consider a ‘pitch’ from a PR professional?
PR professionals should know that their “pitch” for clients’ products or services should be directed at editors and writers who create content for readers who use and/or will benefit from this information. For a writer that covers diesel engines and trucks for example, there’s nothing more frustrating than receiving pitches (and press releases) for products that are specific to gasoline-powered vehicles, non-trucks, etc. For interview opportunities, it’s important for the PR person to really think about the writer’s reader and the demographic for the publication.
Has the era of “fake news” changed how you approach a story?
Not really. I’ve always been a person who follows the “if it sounds too good to be true…” ideal. In my position and with the topic we cover, hearing claims about a product’s ability to do amazing things is somewhat common. Our practice is unchanged. If there’s something that seems like a viable subject to cover, we take all necessary research and investigative steps (test, verify, etc.), and then report on it accordingly.
How important is a pitch topic including real data from a PR professional?
While we like to think that we can, editors actually can’t come up with all the ideas. A good suggestion (with supporting data) from PR professionals is welcome. However, it’s important for the PR professional to understand that if an editor explains that the pitch idea really isn’t something that is beneficial to his/her audience, that doesn’t mean turn up the wick and keep pitching. Believe it or not, this really does happen on many occasions. “No” (respectfully put, of course), means “NO!”
What other assets can a PR professional provide to help with your story?
Being a good source for information, help with acquisition of products and a conduit for expert spokespersons.
In your opinion, what can PR professionals do better?
Most PR professionals do a fine job. I understand what they have to do, and the companies (including Coyne PR) that I work with are all top notch. Having a good understanding of the “client-to-media” association with respect to various products is the best thing any PR professional can do. Knowing when and especially where to present products and services for placement/coverage, in my opinion, is definitely a best practice for a good PR person.
A special thanks to KJ for his time and insights. I certainly look forward to seeing him in his hometown of NYC soon! Thanks for reading. I invite you to learn more about the Coyne PR Automotive team.