Media, Darling: Jen McNeely

Each week, we’ll ask one of our friends in the media how best to grab their attention, what they love about PR professionals and find out their pet peeves. Their insightful words are golden for both novice and seasoned PR specialists alike — so listen up!  

Jen McNeely is the founder and editor-in-chief of, Canada’s edgy lifestyle site for young women.

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
A personalized note with a good sense of humour. Do you know how many press releases I receive? Indian food, nail polish, sneakers, detergent, TV shows, album releases – I think in the ice cream category alone last month I received at least a dozen. Personalize your communication but be sincere. No one wants a perky reminder that feels like a template.
What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
Unless your release really pops off the screen, a follow up phone call or email is a must.
I really respect and enjoy clever marketing solutions, which can be as simple as the way in which a package shows up at the door.
What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Treat you like an inbox instead of a person.
Your pet peeve
Oversell. Let’s be honest, it’s a cotton T-shirt, not a free trip around the world. Talk up – but let’s not be ridiculous about it. I know and you know that it isn’t a magic T-shirt.
I’m so sick of the word fashionista. Be creative.
Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
Great publicists will undoubtedly make a writer’s life easier. They are often natural connectors, which is always welcomed and appreciated. The best publicists are the ones you want to hang out with at a party but also maintain a level of professionalism. It’s a business built on strong relationships.
Don’t force it. If it fits the publication and they are looking for a story, then they will probably write about it. If it feels like you are trying to push a square through a circle, and no one is responding, it’s probably not going to happen.
Know the readership and tone of who you are pitching and suggest story ideas that suit that outlet.
Searchable subjects in an email are very helpful. If you start doing a chain of emails about one thing and introduce another pitch or change subjects, this should be reflected in the subject line.
Many of my best friends are publicists. I have great respect for those who can succeed in this field and do so without compromising their true character and values.

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