How to approach a journalist

pr is changing

If you are a journo or a content writer, you already know how these PR folks hustle us to get us to write a story for them. I have been on both sides of the table – as a writer and now in-charge of Corporate Communications for Pinstorm.
As a content writer, I always wondered why the PR folks called to chat with me in the afternoons when I was normally writing a story or why they never understood that I have never written a story on ‘keyboards from Logitech’ and probably never will write about it.
After two years, life has come full circle. I am now in-charge of Corporate Communications and am now on the other side of the table. I must confess that some of you have been very kind to me. I have made new friends and gotten to know quite a few interesting people on the journalism front. However, I believe there can be a better way to connect or network with the majority of the writers out there.
So if you are/were/want to be a writer or just have some good ideas, this post is about getting your thoughts in the comments section on the few questions I’d like answered:
1. I prefer to add you on gtalk first and then if I get to know you better, on FaceBook too. Will you take offence?
2. Would you take offence if I called you out for lunch to know you better? If yes, what do you think is an alternative?
3. I have this really big announcement to tell you about and you are not willing to take my calls or reply to mails, is there any other way apart from pestering you by repeatedly calling and emailing?
4. What is the best way to approach a writer? (a reply of more than 20 words would be most appreciated.)
It’ll be great if you can leave your thoughts on the same in the comments section.

Image Credits: gapingvoid

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BlogCamp Mumbai 2009

The blogger community in Mumbai is very strong and every year we have a small gathering of enthusiast bloggers, bloggers who blog occasionally and now micro-bloggers. This year was no different – BlogCamp Mumbai was held on 17 January, 2009 at the Microsoft office in Mumbai. It was sponsored by Ibibo.
Since I was one of the organisers, I left early and reached there by 9:00am to find Netra already at the venue sipping on some early morning coffee. After ensuring that everything was according to plan and making sure that we had WiFi access in the room, I waited for all the attendees to come.
After we achieved critical-mass of around 30 attendees, we started with introductions by 10:30am. It was interesting to see that there were quite a few people who had different handles or identities for different websites! I, on the other hand am ‘Asfaq’ or ‘AsfaqTapia’ everywhere on the web 🙂 Sessions were soon slotted in true BarCamp style on the leader-board and we were ready to roll!
The sessions were kicked off by Harish, who spoke about his experience whist blogging about the Mumbai Attacks. He was of the opinion that during times of crisis, all bloggers should come forward to offer help by either providing vital information on their blogs or by providing information about the tragedy.
Next came Abhishek Thakkar, who spoke about his blogging journey and how his blogs have increased with every new hobby he acquired. The incident he narrated of how his parents found a blog where he had written about an ex-flame was very funny – to put it mildly.
Arcopol Chaudhuri, the next speaker talked of how bloggers and journalists could work together to disseminate information about an event. Arcopol writes for DNA Money and was sharing his experiences of working in the field. There is always this little bit of needle between journalists and bloggers; Arcopol was very impressive in giving his side of the story and telling us about the misconceptions those in the media have about bloggers! He went on to say that, “hardly any journos were looking at online blogs during the Mumbai attacks.” He then went on to take stock of how many bloggers trust blogs vs newspapers which resulted in a hung verdict. He went on to say that, “journalists have the most inflated egos, especially editors. They don’t like to clarify on a story and find that damaging to their reputation.”
After a quick break, I attended Dinesh Soni’s session, innovatively titled Pappu Can’t Blog Saala. He spoke about how newbie bloggers start their blog but fail to maintain the steady stream of posts after a week or so. According to Dinesh, here are some pointers that bloggers should avoid on their blogs – too many ads, crazy focus on SEO keywords, VERY long posts, difficult English words, no consistency, no pictures and jazzy themes.
After the session was the much awaited lunch break. I won’t even attempt to describe that because this one tweet says it all 🙂
Opinions on Blogging by Rohan took the blogging discussions to a whole new level with the former discussing about the virtues of Truth, Knowledge and Fact and how these notions were getting broken as blogging reached mass-scale. According to him, it will be very difficult to determine an authoritative source for content. “How will you determine if any content is genuine or not in such an environment?”, he said.
Next on the list was IdeaSmith who talked on the subject ‘Anonymity is a game of identity’, which described her journey through “different URLs, multiple blogs, many identities and the schizo/blogicidal impulses”, as she put it. A topic like this would pique anyone’s interest and it was not long before someone on Twitter asked if people in the audience could tell him what IdeaSmith’s name was. Things were fixed quickly since the person in question was a known friend and obliged to deleting the tweet once he came to know that IdeaSmith was not exactly overjoyed having her name in full view on Twitter.
Neeraj (Skyn3t) took the next session on on “Identity theft, Anonymous blogging and Free Speech”. The session talked of encrypted passwords, anonymity on the internet and ensuring that you remain safe while surfing the internet.
After that came Hardik, who talked of Windows Live Writer, a blogging software that (I am using at the time of writing this post) aims to simplify blogging. It supports all the popular blog templates and allows for a full offline WYSIWYG editor. Very cool. I was just a tad unhappy with the audience response before Hardik started off. Having said that, everything Microsoft related gets bashed, so nothing new there. But by the time he was finished, there were a ton of people who were seriously interested in trying it out.
By this time, I was too brain-fried to attend another session and promptly switched my brain off during Priyanka’s session on “Blogging for money and other techniques on how to popularize one’s blog”. The few words that I did listened to convinced me that it was all about the regular ‘how to make money’ gyaan.
The highlight of the day however has to be our trip to Candies, the VERY famous pastry shop in Bandra. That was fun 🙂 Overall, a very interesting and fun day. Thank you all for coming!
You can look up some photos here, here, here, here, and here 🙂
Image Credits: GapingVoid
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