Ashleigh McKenna is the editor and general manager of sweetspot.ca, Canada’s first online trend-spotting lifestyle guide of its kind. She first started using the site as a reader, getting to know her new city of Toronto in 2004. A magazine internship here, some freelance work there, and a stint as a newspaper reporter in her hometown of Halifax, and she eventually landed online (and hasn’t looked back).
How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
Keep it simple. If the idea is there, it’s there. We all like words and coming up with creative ways to say something, but it can still be concise and direct.
What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
Someone who knows who we are, ideally how we operate, or if not, has taken some time to look at our site. We’re lucky to have many great PR relationships and it really makes a world of difference to be able to ask someone a quick question and know you’ll hear back as soon as they have a chance or to have all of the necessary information already at your fingertips.
What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Well, we’ve all likely experienced the awkward forgotten Bcc, but that usually just makes me feel bad for the person who sent it since I know they’re kicking themselves (and it’s not like I’m about to start spamming some media person whose email I’m not supposed to have or vice versa). Asking repeatedly for some kind of coverage that we just don’t offer gets uncomfortable.
Your pet peeve (pertaining to PR)?
It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but given the audience and the number of sneak peek events out there, I’m always surprised by how many sneak “peaks” I’m invited to. And the pretend personal emails. There are some invites and releases meant for mass mailing and that’s great, but when four people in the office all get the same email only to them and under the guise of being an individual note, it ends up being an inefficient use of time to reply and sort out who has what information.
Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
A relationship can make a lot of difference and those don’t always happen overnight. Consistency and communication go a long way and are always appreciated (and hopefully reciprocated).