Q&A with Journalist Kathryn Janicek
So we're going to be hearing from katherine jana's sick and she is as I said a three time emmy award producer she won those emmy is working in the digital space so she's just got this amazing pedigree I can't even believe that she's going to be talking today I'm a little starstruck because um as a person who works in the media I kind of went in this business partially because I think the media is really important and so like thinking of katherine I just you know the work they're doing to me really matters in the world and it's such a pleasure that she's taking the time out to do this with us so she we actually know her because she's worked with my partner at the agency maggie hassler and they worked on stories that she was producing for nbc and she's not with nbc anymore which is partially why it journals would agree to be on an audience like this s e don't get a thousand bitches but she's agreed to come and talk to us about what it's like in the news room what she's looking for in pit...
ches so you know she's going to be coming up here you can see her website on the screen it's janice iq and company production satcom you can check her out she's at catherine janice sick I'm sure she'd be happy if you treated her a hello or told her what your insights were quoted her, as you're chatting, um, you know, she wants to get her message out there, just like the rest of us, too. So let's, bring katherine up if we can. Hi there. Hi, catherine. Thank you so much for joining us I really appreciate it so I did a little bit of introduction for you but I love for you to just talk a little bit about your career in journalism and producing and what that looked like I heard you earlier say that is one of the job comes off like it's the most stressful difficult child's life to tell you I feel so privileged to have been in journalism for eighteen years and now be able to help people get their stories on tv or in magazines or on the newspaper or just help change their image and I will say that even if I was still in intelligence station I'd be doing this because I used to do a lot of panels for p r se and other pr groups because I wanted to help them my job has always been to serve a viewer and make sure that they get all the news that they could possibly get and the most important information so they could vote so they could raise their families so they know what they're paying in taxes or why they're paying certain amount of taxes so I very much feel this it's an awesome responsibility and I wouldn't I would still do this even if I was still working in a newsroom so I was in local news all over the country starting right when I graduated I think I had a job but five days out of school and little reporting but mainly I wasn't writing producing within nine months after graduation all over the country local stations on dh then I moved back here to chicago which is my home six or seven years ago and then worked at a network that I helped start two years ago and then I started my own company in november which is just amazing so you're actually in a position that a lot of us are in now right running your own company and balancing those priorities is awesome very much so I'm learning as I go every single day which I have to admit even though I can't I don't regret any of the last eighteen years in tv if you spend eighteen years doing anything it becomes a little repetitious and I wanted that fire in my belly back and stay home here in chicago so it just worked well for me to start my own company because I have people who wanted my help even when I was working in television station so now I was able to help them people that have been asking for a couple of years so I feel like I'm still doing major service just like I was in journalism and I feel like my foot is still there but I'm able to do something that is a little makes me a little nervous every day. I'm sure there's a lot of people watching that have to raise children and and pay their mortgage of their rent and not know if they're gonna have three clients next month or two or four nine or ten and I feel that every day and carrie but I know that the great responsibility is still there like I was when I was a journalist I want to help people get their stories on air and deliver them to the audience so I wouldn't do it I'm so happy in the space just so happy I feel blessed well we feel blessed to have you so you talked a little bit about the repetition in the newsroom in the job and I think that's something that's always so interesting for people here like what you don't think about journalism is like a job where you go in and you have meetings and like these certain expectations so what does that look like like what's your day in the newsroom kind of look like when you're producing and putting a story together what's what are the steps in that process? I'm really glad you asked that because a lot I'm not saying that pr people or people who are pitching journalists don't think about that but maybe sometimes they don't have the information that they can actually there would behoove prove them tow have I a news any producer or talent or the managers they have very different shifts not one person has the same shift so some people come in at midnight. Some people come at ten p m some people comment eight or nine am some people come in two or one pm to do the night side so that's the ten pm show or the nine or the eleven no met depending on what where you live so it's really important for you to to realize where what time that producer is sleeping or working or possibly would be with their family not only the hours very different the days people work are very varied they know some people work to state your saturday some people are blessed to work monday through friday but that's not very common some people work every day so you can hit him up and they will get back to you and those air I mean people that do that they really you know you've got a winner there because this is an all consuming job that you should be on all the time but so you know people shift sometimes start with and I can't even say everyone should start so the morning meeting because day side we'll start with a morning meeting maybe at nine or nine thirty depending on what market you're in and the night outside the people doing the ten pm or nine pm or eleven p m they might have a meeting of one pm and their jobs and they come to that meeting they should to impress their boss to impress the room to get a great story on here that they actually a passion about they should come to those meetings with great stories and that's where you come in a play if you can hit someone before that meeting or a couple hours before that meeting or the day before I was with a story that is timely that day they are going to look like rock stars in their meeting so you're giving them help you're helping them put on a great story also in your helping an audience be able to find out about the business or the brand that you're trying to promote so it's very important for you to find out who the producer is what their responsibilities are really formed that relationship so you can give them the information kind of like when I was in the booth and I would give you no talent where's that I have b and I had to learn when to talk to my talent between breaths between thoughts when maybe the other anchor was speaking you need toe it's important to learn I'm gonna tell you what you need you know it's important to learn when to deliver that message to a journalist so then they can give it to their boss and put it on tv or in print or digital how there's so much there I mean we are in this twenty four seven vier mint where you feel like you can email anyone at any time but when you're working in the media or a news room or on a tv program that's going on air every single day just remember that these people are looking for breaking news right so catherine if you get an email you may not be able to shut off your e mail you have to have your notifications and it might wake you up at night so don't email somebody at like you know, ten o'clock at night when you finally finish putting your pitch together wait you know until when you think it's a reasonable working are for that person all right not that you might wake them up but you know you want to make sure you're at the top of their emails that day because any good journalist signs up for every single media blast I mean I I get very important emails but I also get you know, a lot of extra stuff that I get around to reading later you want to make sure that your stuff is in the placement in that email inbox that they're going to see when they first wake up is that something they could deliver so it's not buried you know someone does wake up at one a m two goto work there an executive producer of morning show try to maybe think about it I'm not telling you also like not sleep but it might be a good idea time that email to where that man or woman is waking up and you'll see it first yeah I used to do a lot of work with radio and I actually had a really horrible situation early in my career where he called a radio producer during his show and he answered the phone and then proceeded to me out as he should I deserved it and I learned a lesson that I will never forget so this is like just those little chips and tricks you know teo to know what's going on um I'd also like to know I know this varies for everyone but how is it that you like to hear from someone do you want them email you do you prefer if they pick up the phone if there's a lot of variety I'm just interested in what you what you enjoyed really if the story is great if the content is awesome and it is something that I'm gonna want I really don't care how you communicate with me on I think a lot of people would say that the story is terrific if you're just if it's not timely if it's something that can wait ah phone call is is not really needed as we all know it's also if you just sent a press release following up with a phone call within minutes ten minutes even an hour is not needed because that person may not even have time to reach your release and it also can then become an annoyance now I will say that's something that's timely and you know there's something about an election or there's news with snow or whatever and this is gonna help someone and you know this is another angle to a major story that you know that person is covering right now and they're going to need it pick up that phone grab tweet text um you know where you think they are in the space at that moment definitely do it I used to tell people at panels like whatever it is they harass the heck out of me if you have a great story facebook me tweet me you know don't leave me a voicemail because I may never listen to it because you get around to that but pick up the phone if it's something that you think that I need right now just hold my viewers so it depends on your story very much well and that's something that I think it's just common sense it's like how did you communicate with a friend? How urgent is that information and what would you choose? It seems like that's a good guy that you can use in the same situation absolutely and I know if you don't have a story that's urgent or you think it's kind of a push in the in the first place you don't think that it's really not a good fit you can really hurt a relationship with a journalist if you then push it really hard because that person may the next time you call they may not pick up that phone because they don't think that you get them you know they might assume that you don't understand their audience or what their show is all about so make sure not only to think about what that person is and kind of research that journalists and find out what their job is what do you know? They're bookers all the time on especially in a market like this you know where the third market third largest market there were people specifically on morning shows that book comedians book town put certain talent may both no other shows I mean I'm not saying that's every morning show but there are certain people may have a specialization so if you know that you can talk right to the right producer and it's great and it also shows that you did your homework so I have two questions that the first one is you know, if there's any tricks you could give people or tips on how they figure out the right person because that could be hard to find and then I'm really interested in hearing when you get a story or when you bring it to your meeting you know what are the things that you're looking for that are going to help you push that story forward so so thie figuring out what a producer or a town somebody specializes in you can you know if you become friends with them on facebook or twitter you can find that out pretty quickly because they talk about their stories they they might post I used to post all the time the kind of talent I was looking for you know I'm looking for this kind of story or I'm looking this for this kind of expert so you might actually learn a lot about thie station the person who's in charge of booking stories or talent on the stations or newspaper whenever I mean everybody every day is a lot of people have a feat I should not say at all that everybody does because staffs have been been squashed by in great numbers in the last couple years so it's not like everyone has a beef with you if you get to know someone you know what kind of stories they tend to gravitate towards you know is the producer a single person as she is it a woman is in a man what do they pose that they really enjoy talking about what kind of things do they re tweet you can play and it's not a game it's just being smart, realizing what might they take from you and actually put on air because we're still people we have interest we may get you know a single woman may book a story about a very unique story about valentine's that may be a married man might not I'm not saying that they that is always gonna happen but you know you know it's like talking your friends you have certain friends you go cop telling with you have certain friends you go to fly well with so think about that also with producers writers you know talent that you sent to their certain bankers who are very much into education they have kids they they pay into maybe private schools whatever you just have to know I mean it's this is all about relationships it's all about being smart this is all about you becoming a journalist and digging and finding out what their twitter handles are with their facebook is and setting them on messages just explained that you want to help them and then you were talking about you asked how what you're looking for lebanese honor yeah let me give them a quick tip on the relationship side so there is actually a web site called muck crack dot com it's a free website I don't know if you know what this catherine where you can actually go and look by media outlet and fine journalist twitter handles so they'll have listed like nbc, chicago or the san francisco chronicle or really simple and they'll show all the people who worked there who are on twitter and whether twitter handles are sign up for a free account it's a great way to start building a relationship with somebody and we're gonna talk a little bit later about finding the media context you also mentioned some terminology that I just want to break down real quick so keller mentioned a beat so beat is just journalism lingo for you know what is the subject matter area like what is that area our industry that somebody is covering so you'll see this on you know tv producers might have a specific beat or people are booking might have specific beats you see it a lot in newspapers and magazines and things where they have bigger staff right so website might have a smaller staff but if you have somebody with a staff of ten twenty one hundred then they're going to have specific beats and those were just the area so we're gonna look at that a little bit later I just want you to keep that in mind when kathryn's talking so the other thing was what are you looking at like when you're pushing a story forward in your meetings what kind of things are you guys talking about in considering things you know you have to sometimes think about how to make a story local if you're pitching to a local newspaper or local television station what makes that cancer story that very national international story what makes it local do you have a local doctor do you have a local victim do someone going through some kind of surgery that might be local that's gonna help there's? There are some stations in certain towns which is great that they do this they tried to make that very much their focus so they know they're brand really well and they will make sure that they book on lee really chicago focus stories on certain shows or lola or whatever you know it depends on the market national it's gonna be different but if you're doing if you're pitching toe local you really want to think about how do you make that story roll of it for that audience so the people in the neighborhoods of suburbs the city of that city that you're pitching to especially newspapers you want to make sure that it has if it's tv if it's newspaper think about what they want in a story if it's digital if it's on on tv what great video do you have send that to them right away so they don't even have to start thinking about I really don't think this is a very thiss might be a video poor story convinced them otherwise before they even trash the release so really have to think about the city where what the audience is not just city who's their audience is their audience in national international local and then you also have to think about what the platform it's so in if it's television station you all know that that platform now is in the last five years has been automatically digital it's on air it's you know they have there yeah blast all the time so that's it's all the platforms but you just have to really anybody newspaper. I mean, they do a great job with video. Now, a lot of them do. So you really have to think about their audience and the platform that you're pitching. Okay, okay, awesome and that's, something that we've been talking about a lot, right, it's, like, how do you find that match, that customer base that you could be talking? Teo, local tv is one of my favorite things to do, so I'm really excited that you're getting some inside tips from katherine on that, because it's a great way to build up media, build up that kind of pedigree of placements that you can have for yourself. Do you have any pet peeves or anything that people shouldn't d'oh? I think sometimes you know we're all you think about you know you've got a retainer fee or you really have to prove it to your company or your brand or whoever you're representing and then sometimes it's almost like an insult when a journalist doesn't run the story you have to really respect the fact that they're protecting the brand they have a boss that if they if they put something on tv that's not going to be great I I I don't want to give examples but I don't want to burn anybody but you know if someone's already said we don't have the sound to do a band don't give him another band the next because they don't want their telling you I don't want your band to sound like crap so why would you say well you know what it's okay you know that you don't have the audio system that another station does a runner trust them that they're trying to protect your your business your you know that client of yours so I thinkit's sometimes people not understanding that it's not that the journalist is saying no to you they're just trying to protect the brand protect their job protect the station protector audience and making sure that they always keep a certain level of contents for their onions yeah because you have a job to do the people are pitching you have a job to do and the best places where that really intersex and has a symmetry absolutely so don't be offended and maybe maybe try to ask follow up questions to find out what might be a better pitch next time or what might be a better story for them or business that that's gonna be great information for you so I know we just have a couple of minutes left so I'd like to just have a moment to find out if there's any questions for you katherine it looks like jaco you have some questions from the we do catherine you've really electrified are online audience oh thank you so much for joining us today it's been fantastic one question came from time cats rumors of follow up the similar from clover lewis what subject lines and emails do you look for an open to read the most for a story what's going to really grab you or is that important? It is important because sometimes it will be a very long very business like subject line or I'll just press release and we'll have like a press release johnson and johnson really hook me think about nowadays we've had to learn how to write incredible tweets to get people's attention so I think now that's trained us to be better headline writers to grab people use that talent that you've learned right now to make I mean you might have been a headline writer in your past life learn that use that talent that you've learned to make incredible tweets and make amazing subject lines that will make someone open that up and then I will I will say go beyond that not just give a whole blue of information in an email sometimes it's just a couple of bullet points you make somebody's day easier that minute easy and just say the story's x y and z you know are you interested and then maybe give the rest at the bottom so they don't need to ask you for the rest of the information with the latest video and stuff or open up you know we always say like great video cells you know, maybe start with a great picture or a great me too a video so you gotta see this this is unbelievable and then give the rest of information but so you know still the norm are those emails with all that information is just it's too much you really want to hook someone and make them understand why the story is so important for them to read the rest so welcome welcome at the top I swear we did not plan this because there is a lesson and exactly how to write headlines and pitches that are exactly what you just talked weii did not conspire about this beforehand. I was a little nervous about what you were going to say. Katherine fantastic. Now jade is asking should we be looking to give ready to use content or just give them the idea so that they included maybe in an article ray use content like a video package already shot yeah she did actually say not in articles and maybe something that's already written but I would think a package video package great example you could have a video package absolutely and of course the station should be saying where they got it from you know they're going to need it for teases they're going to need it for for bureau if there's a live guess they're gonna need it for the actual package with the video that they do so absolutely include that you can emblazoned your own logo if you want to so they you know it because they have a responsibility obviously explain that they got this video from the client so they were going to either put a chiron on it or you could put one on too but that's good absolutely make it easy for them we'll get some questions from our studio so I just have one more from online and you've already touched on this a little bit catherine but m baker's asking they've pitched stories and they get no feedback at all of why it's not a good fit what is the best way to follow up on who should they be talking to to find out why it didn't work and get you know help them improve in the future good question I would find it I would first make sure you're us some kind of program so you know whether or not the email has actually been opened so then if you find out it's been opened it's been run it's been deleted you have that information so I would actually what I said earlier email the person asked them you know I understand that you passed on this great fine terrific don't make it like, you know, in issue what kind of stories you were looking for me and I take you to coffee or can I just ca me can I pick up the phone and talk for two minutes and just find out how I can help you better serve your audience make it all about you helping them because that will open up the conversation and I know I don't know anyone who's not gonna want to have that conversation you know how are you going to how can I help you do your job better that's how I would go about it have a question from our studio audience I was aspirated about this offline I'm curious what your thoughts are on pitching multiple producers is that a philpott or she just do one wait a couple weeks try a different one if you don't do anything back no if you've been burned because somebody has said no and then you don't want to go around somebody else I get that but if you're just not a mass email but you're sending one to bob and you're sending at the same time jim and jane or blow that's fine because it's better I would say it increases the opportunity for you that someone might open that email I would add the anchors to their some anchors who are very involved in the shows I think that is absolutely wrong with some people just said press releases to talent or send something physical to tell it because they're not the ones that are always booking but if you include them when you're including the producers that's good because someone might see it and go all this was a great piece let's let's let's work on this let's get this on the next show but I've seen people who specifically on lee sun releases to talent it's just like they're not the ones who have to fill in our show or a morning show that's four and a half hours five hours I mean those morning shows are becoming astronomical now really make sure you're getting it to the actual people who are writing stories catherine has a great comic is that actually happens to me I get pictures all the time so I'd love to teach him creative line although I'm thrilled to hear from them I can't help you get in touch with our producer thiss has been an amazing experience having you with us I really want to say thank you would you like to let our all of us know where they could find you online absolutely. I'm more than happy if anyone ever has any questions. You could just tweet me. Catherine, janice, sec, and or, if you want to send me a private email, it's, janice, iq and company dot com great, thank you so much for offering that up. It was wonderful spending time with you and, oh, my gosh, what insight we've gotten for meal. How how much amazing information to catherine just give you on I promise you we did not plan this but this is going to lead in so well that we were going I mean, I've been doing this for a long time so of course you know I have a good idea of what people are going to say when we ask a journalist like what is it that you want what you're looking for but there's nothing is valuable is hearing it directly from them so where I wanted pasta right now is just looking at thinking about the conversation that we just had with catherine we're going to look at a lot of more lessons extra very next lesson is about how do you find that fit? So she was talking a lot of specifically about tv because that's her background and where do you fit into tv and what's the good opportunities for you but we're actually going to be looking in the next two lessons on how do you find your fit in any kind of media outlet and what some techniques are so you can figure that stuff out so right now what I'd like for you to do is write down and let me know what's your biggest insight from the conversation we just have from catherine if you were in her shoes you know what would you want to see and what did you get out of that what are you taking away so let's hear from our audience here melissa will is your big insight my big insight was to think about how their daily life actually goes like if it's television when did they actually work when should you be sending an email so they're just going to be at the top of their list when they get up you know whether they're waking up it's seven in the morning or two o'clock in the afternoon or whatever it just that never really occurred to me to toe look at that you know their daily life and do you see that changing your behavior because you know you've done some work with the media before yeah absolutely yeah great information have us any others they took them with the subject line yes that is so important they're so busy you only have a few seconds to grab their attention and that subject line is the tool to do it I mean think of how the media's put together they're hooking you two read their articles with their subject lines or with their headlines or with their segment names and so you could do that exact same thing when you're trying to get their attention so great one rachel will be talking about that later ten I think knowing the person and the show they're doing and the or the articles that they write so that what you're giving them is on content that they care about that was big yeah, absolutely and that's why I recommend that you don't start with a massive media list of like fifty media outlets it's something that I call spray and pray when you send out one mass email toe like fifty different people it's kind of old school pr thing and I can say like you know if you're a big brand maybe you can get away with it you know if the media is gonna cover every single product release you have but you know we're not all like steve jobs were not all apple and we can't get away with that so what we should do instead is developed those intentional relationships and when you on ly air starting by reaching out two three five maybe up to ten you could take the time to do that and it craft those great pitches anything from the chat rooms yes I'm handsome great feedback here because they say catherine really brought the chat rooms to life a miller may is saying this has been a great overall less on how to talk with those contacts has been very very valuable information indeed on other people saying you know they kathleen released saying I love the concept of working as a team with the journalist because then you're making their job a lot easier heavy list that is exactly what I want you to be taking away here so how can you work together to make that piece of content and that it's a relationship and you're in it together that it's not adversarial. You're not trying to get something passed them right? You're really working together. So this is a great place to be wrapping up this lesson.
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