Media, Darling: Amy Verner

Each week, we will ask one of our friends in the media how to best to grab their attention, what they love about PR professionals and find out their PR pet peeves. Their insightful words are golden for both novice and seasoned PR specialists alike – so listen up!
After moving back to Canada from New York in 2003 where she studied media criticism at New York University, writer Amy Verner started penning small pieces for FLARE and The Toronto Star. By 2006, she was contributing to seven Canadian publications including Toronto Life, Fashion magazine, National Post and The Globe and Mail.
Amy joined The Globe and Mail as the paper’s style reporter in 2007 and has since juggled numerous columns such as the Film Festival’s party circuit, Toronto’s buzz-worthy people and the do’s and don’ts of what to wear to work. She also covers all things fashion for the Globe‘s Life Style section, from decoding the latest trends to interviewing emerging young designers.
Twitter: @amyverner
How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
Well, let’s put it this way, I know what *doesn’t* grab my attention: a generic e-blast. What really, truly gets my attention is when I get offered an exclusive on a story – or at least first dibs on it. But because this doesn’t always happen, I think a good pitch has as much to do with the uniqueness of the product or person as it does with the actual press release. Let’s face it, there’s only so much creativity you can have with a press release. Obviously images help – but the files can’t be too big or else I’ll likely delete them.
What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
Someone who is sensitive to my time limitations. Some writers love meeting public relations professionals over lunch; I’m not one of those people. I simply find it distracting and eats too much into the day (pardon the pun!). Also, I cannot underscore enough how much I appreciate a person who is prompt and organized. Because our deadlines are so tight, I might need something turned around in record speed and when the material/interview can be delivered when requested, that professional is definitely in my good books going forward.
What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Being too aggressive. When someone sends an email and follows up with a phone call within a half hour, that’s just unrealistic. Sometimes, it takes a day for us to sort through and make sense of pitches that may not be our priority on that particular day. Also, people who have not done their research. If I’m pitched a story about something I’ve just written about or if PRs ask me to run listings (which we don’t do in our section), I feel as if they’re not doing their homework (same as if I went into an interview unprepared). Lastly, as a writer, I can’t help but get peeved by typos!
Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
Don’t be so serious! I totally appreciate professionalism but I can’t express enough how much I hate being referred to as ‘Ms.’ We are fortunate to work in a fun industry. It should come across in correspondences and interactions (but not forcibly so, of course — our phony radar is always on!).

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