Meet the media: Alex Blyth, prolific freelancer for marketing, charity and business titles
My colleagues from Berkeley PR and I have met Alex on a few occasions and have found him to be one of the most approachable journalists in the business. More importantly, and the main reason behind why I asked him to participate in my “Meet the media” series is because of the feedback I have always got back from him. If a pitch isn’t a story he will tell you, but will also offer advice on what it needs. Not bad for a Spurs fan :o)
Name: Alex Blyth
Titles I regularly work for: Accountancy, B2B Marketing, CCF, First Voice, Growing Business, Managing Growth, Media Week, NW Insider, Packaging News, Personnel Today, PR Week, Print Week, Revolution, Training & Coaching Today, Third Sector.
Paul Stallard: What is your top tip for PR professionals?
Alex Blyth: If I could give one piece of advice to PR professionals it would be to remember that their job is to translate what their company/client is doing so that journalists can easily see how it affects their readers. It’s a simple job in theory, but very difficult in practice – that’s why you get paid so well!
PS: Do you think that most PR professionals read the titles you write for before contacting you?
AB: Too rarely. Far too many pitches from PRs make it obvious that, not only have they not read the publication, but they’ve little idea about what it covers and who it’s read by. Generic PR pitches are little better than spam and do no one any favours.
PS: Do you believe journalists are rude to PR professionals?
AB: Yes. I’ve been shocked by stories PRs have told me about rude and arrogant journalists. It also staggers me the way some of them ask for freebies. I’m not averse to the odd golf day or trip to a sporting event, but I never ask for them.
PS: What is your pet hate of PR?
AB: Treating me like a media monitoring service. I have a website where I post all my commissions so PRs know what I’m writing, and where I put all my published articles that I can get hold of. PRs can even register to receive e-mail updates when new briefs or published articles go up there. Despite this I still receive a remarkable number of calls and e-mail asking me whether or not so-and-so was included in an article.
I really appreciate the help that PRs put in to help me with my articles, but I know that ultimately they’re getting paid by their clients to do this, and I believe that one of the things they should spend some of their fee on is a good monitoring service. I want to help PRs but if I responded to every single one of these requests I would have no time to actually write the articles!
PS: What is the best way to contact you?
AB: E-mail. I like to be able to read something, consider it in my own time, and formulate a reply. Maybe I’m too slow for phone conversations!
PS: Do you run or can you recommend a PR training course?
AB: Absolutely. I run a series of open courses for PR professionals that are also available in-house. Full details can be found on my site, but in brief, they all combine half a day in the classroom with four weeks of individual coaching which applies the theory to your actual work. The courses are:
Pitching to Editors – how to write and deliver pitches that make editors sit up and take notice
What Every PR Should Know About Press Releases – the fundamentals of good press release writing for those relatively new to PR
How to Write Press Releases that Stand Out from the Crowd – advanced techniques and tips for press release writing
How to Write Features – researching, structuring and crafting features that both sell your company/client and interest the readers
I also offer media training for company spokespeople.
PS: Is there a future long term for hard copy publications or will online rule?
AB: News is moving online, but there will still be a place for print publications that contain interesting opinions and well researched features.
PS: Bar your own, which news titles do you read?
AB: BBC Online, Guardian and Observer.
PS: What is your favourite restaurant/coffee house for briefings?
AB: I think Refuel at the Soho Hotel is a great venue for lunch.
Next in the meet the media series are as follows:
Christine Horton, Channel Pro (interview live on 14 April)
Jon Gripton, Sky News Online (interview live on 21 April)
Dan Oliver, .Net (interview live on 28 April)