Media, Darling

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!

We’re so pleased to have Lisa Tant as our first profile. Since March 2004, Lisa has been the editor-in-chief of FLARE magazine, Canada’s fashion authority for the past 30 years.
Prior to joining FLARE, Lisa was the Executive Editor at Chatelaine responsible for the magazine’s fashion, beauty, home décor and gardening pages. She began her fashion career in British Columbia as the Beauty and Fashion columnist for the Vancouver Sun, a Contributing Fashion Editor to FLARE and the Vancouver Correspondent for Style magazine.

Recognized as one of Canada’s leading beauty and fashion experts – Lisa’s regular TV appearances include ET Canada, eTalk (Flare Fashion Closet), CBC NewsWorld, Fashion Television, MTV Canada, CTV NewsChannel, Breakfast Television and Canada AM, as well as numerous radio shows and print features.

Twitter: @lisatant

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
A pitch doesn’t have to come in a fancy box with all kinds of gimmicks. Put the focus on your hook – i.e. why you really want me to pay attention – and then keep everything simple and clear. Show or tell me in a few seconds what your message is and that will make me want to read the entire release.

I delete email pitches if they haven’t grabbed me in either the subject line or the first few lines. Few editors have time for more than just an initial quick scan for the info. It’s unbelievable how much PR spam – children’s wear launches to medical testing reports – I receive every day.

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
I like to see all of the information presented – product information or an event – in a simple clear manner. Time is of the essence so I’m frustrated if an invitation doesn’t tell me what time a presentation actually starts, or if clear directions to a complicated address aren’t included. I’ve come across several invitations recently where the event date has been forgotten.

Also, make sure the package has everything I need – from a clear press release to a USB stick or image disc. If your competitor has covered all of those bases, we’ll likely go with their information rather than yours.

What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Not being professional is a problem. When I receive a release from one of my preferred agencies, I always read it regardless of how busy I am. I know that they will not waste my time or send me info I can’t use.

One of the biggest mistakes is sending information to the wrong person. Check the magazine’s masthead frequently and follow up with the right person. Make sure you have the correct spelling of their name and the magazine’s name – seriously. A bad first impression – like addressing mail to a competing editor-in-chief but sending it to me – is hard to change. And when you do follow-up, don’t recite the press release to the editor on the phone or their voice mail.

My pet peeve
An exclusive pitch should be exclusive. Several times, I’ve been sold on a pitch promised to be only for FLARE and then discovered that the exclusivity has been broken. Reasons have ranged from “they’re a trade magazine and you’re consumer” to “we got more time with the celebrity so wanted to maximize the interviews”. That makes me crazy and damages the agency’s credibility.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
We rely on our public relations partners to help us get information quickly and efficiently. We always return calls to those agencies that are consistently prepared and professional.
A great PR professional is so incredibly valuable to us, and we treat them with the respect that they give us.