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Meet the media: Peter Hay, PR Week

Written by Paul Stallard

Peter Hay, PR Week

This week my meet the media interview has a slightly different spin as it is with Peter Hay, digital editor of PR Week. Peter has an interesting position in the media, where he writes about the subject that he gets to see real life examples of daily.

Every time I run these interviews the one major fact that comes out is that most journalist get I get a lot of untargeted emails. I thought that surely someone who works for the industry trade title wouldn’t suffer the same fate…..unfortunately this simply wasn’t true.

Name: Peter Hay
Title I work for: PRWeek

Paul Stallard: What is the best way to contact you?
Peter Hay: I think this depends on the urgency and timing. I work on the early morning news run so afternoons, in general, are better than mornings. I’m happy for it to be via email, Twitter or phone but if there is a lot to say, sometimes it’s better to email the general information and I can call you back if it’s something we would like to run. A link to a relevant web page can be quick and efficient, where appropriate.

PS: Do you think that most PR professionals read the title you write for before contacting you?
PH: We’re in a fortunate position at PRWeek in terms of working with PROs. In our case I think many PR professionals read our publication as it directly interests and relates to them and so understand it before contacting us.

PS: Have you ever done any PR work and if yes what was the experience like?
PH: I worked in a couple of in-house roles, after I graduated, in the fashion and book publishing industries. It was enjoyable and in both cases my place there allowed me to develop skills I still use now – especially in terms of writing and understanding how the PR industry operates.

PS: What is your top tip for PR professionals?
PH: Please don’t send enormous files via email, it’s a little frustrating.

PS: How many emails / calls do you get a day?
PH: I’m sure more than is necessary. I get a lot of untargeted emails and several irrelevant calls a day but that is all par for the course I guess.

PS: How has the increase of social media affected traditional journalism?
PH: I think it has had a huge impact on the way journalists report and operate.

Firstly, you have to be much quicker in getting your story out there, which increases the need for online as a conduit to facilitate this.

Secondly, as a news stream, platforms such as Twitter can be great for picking up on what’s going on in the world before it has broken in the mainstream media. This democratises the way in which journalists obtain stories.

Thirdly, you can really broaden your own audience if you’re active within social media. The more you put into it, the more interest you’ll generate and the more you’ll engage with your audience. It can take some effort but I feel it’s worth it.

PS: Have you had to change your writing style for online copy to incorporate SEO?
PH: Before the BBC started talking about the length of their headlines, we at PRWeek had already established the form of extending ours to allow more SEO keywords where they mattered. This has proved successful for us over the past several months in terms of growing traffic.

In terms of style, short, punchy copy has always been the way we write for online when producing morning web news.

PS: Is there a future long term for hard copy publications or will online rule?
PH: I think there is always a future for the physical. I spend a lot of my time online but I still like to go home and pick up a book or a magazine with a cup of tea.

Life online can be convenient and technology can really assist in making processes of assimilating large quantities of information faster but there always needs to be something in the three-dimensional world to occupy and entertain.

PS: Bar your own, which news titles do you read?
PH: Not surprisingly a lot of my reading is done online so I have a RSS stream of news –based information coming through to me.

Generally I dip into areas of the Independent, the Guardian and the Times that I find interesting. As a guilty pleasure, I read the Daily Mail online for its celeb gossip – they really are the best at reporting these stories in my view.

Blogs also feature highly in my reading, not least because I need to source good tech PR blogs for the technology page, which I co-write for the magazine.

My reading is quite organic and time-dependent, so I take recommendations from friends/followers on various social media platforms via links.

PS: What is your favourite restaurant/coffee house for briefings?
PH: I really like afternoon tea, one of my favourite things, so Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton Street suits me well for less formal meetings – it can become a smidge loud in there! For a quieter setting, the Charlotte Street Hotel is perfect.

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