After sipping champagne together at a beauty launch I managed to talk online journalist at bmag, Rachel Quilligan, into giving us the dirt on the PR and journalism love/hate relationship.
Here is my 5 minutes with Rachel;
1. How did you get into journalism?
I started out studying Commerce/Economics at uni – and it was so painfully dreadful and boring I knew I had to get out. I’ve always loved writing so I decided to follow that passion and journalism seemed a logical choice. After interning with bmag in my last semester at uni I was offered the opportunity to join the team on the new website, www.bmag.com.au.
2. What do you love most about your job?
I love interviewing people. I love talking to people about their stories and their passions. Equally I love crafting those interviews into articles – just the whole process that goes from turning my questions into a fully-fledged piece of writing, it’s great.
3. What is a day in the bmag office usually like?
Working on the digital team means we’re mostly glued to our screens! We live and breathe the web. But of course we’re in and out on interviews or for other press opportunities too. We also have an unofficial rivalry with the ladies on the mag downstairs about who’s better, us or them. We fight that out in the laser tag arena.
4. What kind of stories are you usually looking for?
We’re all about Brisbane at bmag so anything local is great. Personally, I love speaking to interesting people with something to say about their life or work.
5. Do you have any PR pet peeves?
Absolutely, we have a few! The biggest is probably when PR’s say they’ll come back with something straight away but don’t deliver. On web we don’t have deadlines in the strictest sense but we’re constantly putting up content and can’t really afford to wait three or four extra days for photos or information that may or may not arrive. I know this is a big issue on the magazine as well with their strict deadline. If you can’t get it to us today, be honest about it – we can work around it – but don’t promise something will arrive in our inboxes in the next hour then have it come through a week and a half later!
6. Do you prefer to be pitched to by phone or email?
Phone’s nice for a personal connection but email is great because we can have all the information available up front for us to peruse in our own time. Following up an email with a phone call is a nice touch, but remember to keep calls short and sweet, don’t call fifteen minutes after the email is first sent, and please don’t call every single day afterwards to follow up – if we’re interested, we’ll get around to it when we can!
7. What has been your most memorable story?
There’s been a few – I had a great chat with Peter Helliar recently and I always love speaking to authors about their novels, but my highlight is still an interview I did with legendary surfer Tom Carroll for the magazine last year. It was amazing to meet with such an icon and I got an autograph from him for my dad too, who is an avid surfer, and he was pretty stoked about that. Also when I was still an intern I did a story on Guide Dogs Queensland about their airport training initiative where I was blindfolded and led around the domestic terminal – that was pretty memorable too!
8. What differs from an online story to a print story?
We keep a similar voice from the magazine to online but online moves a lot faster and we need things to be edgier and different to what else is already out there. If you can offer a really unique angle for online, that’s great.
9. If you could share a piece of wisdom to PR peeps out there, what would it be?
We love when PRs are super prompt and understanding, and if you add quotes to a release or offer an interview (even if it’s a random makeup expert!) you’re more likely to get stuff published. Also it really rubs us the wrong way when PRs seem to ‘expect’ coverage or editorial – we work together in this industry but journalists don’t owe PRs and it irks us when they come across that way.
10. What is your favourite way to wind down from a busy day?
Sipping cocktails or champagne at an event by The Red Republic of course! But when those aren’t on, usually I crash in front of the latest Pretty Little Liars ep or am watching The Block… and on Thursday nights I get a massage or my nails done to spoil myself.
The bmag team!