Our “Journalist’s POV: 3 Questions From a NY PR Firm” feature provides “real-world” advice for public relations people from working journalists with whom we have solid relationships. Today we talk to Camille Noe Pagán, a journalist and editor specializing in health and nutrition who was recently named Health Editor at Real Simple magazine. We put three questions to this accomplished writer and novelist on her relationships with PR professionals and got a “bonus” comment too!
What is the worst PR pitch you ever received? I’ve received a lot of crazy pitches (bacon-flavored lube, anyone?) but the worst are the ones that say, “Did you know that today/tomorrow is national X day? Here’s a story for your readers …” One glance at my website or bio reveals that I don’t write for daily outlets; instead, the publications and website I contribute to are on production schedules that are typically months ahead.
What makes a good/bad interview subject for you? A good interview subject is one who is well-versed on the topic. There’s nothing worse than an overzealous email response suggesting the “perfect!” expert—only to discover that the source actually has little to no insight regarding the subject at hand. It’s not just a waste of my time, it’s a waste of the expert’s time, too, and it’s awkward!
What should PR people know about your job that will make them better at theirs? Like every journalist and editor I know, I don’t always have time to go through email the same day I receive it. Getting a follow-up email the morning after the initial email was sent is too much, and actually makes me even less inclined to write back (that’s saying a lot, because I try very hard to respond to every personal email I receive).
A good relationship with a great publicist is a wonderful thing. There are at least a dozen publicists I work with regularly—some of whom I’ve now known for over a decade—and they have given me stellar ideas, connected me with incredible sources, and in many occasions, saved me from disaster when I needed a last-minute expert or information about a product. I think the key word is “relationship”; these are connections that have been fostered over time. Each one started with a friendly email or in-person introduction, and was solidified by mutual respect.