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!
Bernadette Morra is the brand new editor-in-chief of FASHION Magazine. She was with The Toronto Star for 20 years, first as fashion writer, then (since 1993) as fashion editor. She left The Star in 2008 to be a freelance writer and launch a website for jewellery lovers. Bernadette has reported from the runways of Milan, London, Paris and New York, and interviewed many top fashion designers, models and celebrities including Karl Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Ghesquiere, Victoria Beckham and Linda Evangelista.
How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
By opening their remarks with a sincere comment on a story they read in FASHION magazine. I am always interested to know what people have to say, good and bad, about the work we produce. I am not fishing for compliments. I want to know what stories or images resonate, what lingers in our readers’ thoughts, what influences them to change something in their life – even if it’s buying new shoes.
Sending some useless promotional article that is meant to grab my attention is, quite simply, irritating. Then I have to spend time that I don’t have thinking about what I am going to do with this thing I have no use for. One memorable item that crossed my desk: an empty violin case. For the life of me I can’t recall what it was promoting.
What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
When thorough, accurate, concisely written background information is provided and when they assure that an agreed-upon interview time is met.
What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Besides misspelling my name, not researching the magazine and proofreading their copy before they send it? Being rude. You would be amazed how many are. Especially if they are representing a celebrity. Some people seem to think this gives them license to behave like complete boors.
Another problem is translated copy that is grammatically incorrect and otherwise badly written. I feel like I can’t trust it because I am not sure if the information is accurate.
Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
A story is a story – it doesn’t matter if it presents itself scribbled on a paper napkin or engraved on a silver platter.