Our blog series where we speak to key media contacts across the UK and Ireland to learn a bit more about what they do, and how PR teams can help them to do it, continues apace this week.
Next up is Emma Costello from Extra.ie. When we’re not fawning over Java (her adorable pet cat) on Instagram, we’re chatting to Emma to see what stories might work best for the site.
Here’s what she had to say when we turned the tables to ask the questions…
1. What does your day to day look like?
The work day can start anywhere from 6am to 2pm for the team, I feel I’m fortunate enough to land the early morning shifts so I can embrace the day after work. Generally I start around 7am and first thing we do is see what’s happening in the world and of course close to home. The online editor normally has a few ideas bright and early to give us a push in case we’re still wiping sleep from our eyes. We trudge on with some news before meeting – these days over Zoom – to have a chat about what we’ve planned for the day and throw around a few other ideas for the week or month ahead. It’s a nice break in the day when you can be bogged down with a lot of work! Then after that it’s all systems go to get cracking on your ideas, reaching out to various PRs, celebrities, politicians, Mary from down the road… Everyone has a story and that why it’s so important to me to make sure I do my research and tell another person’s story well. Lunch is thrown in there somewhere.
2. What’s your top tip for PRs hoping to pitch a story for Extra.ie?
Give us something that our readers can relate to. We’re not going to write a story about the top five tips for managing curly hair because that’s not us and that’s not our reader. We want to know how the person behind the brand came to be, what their journey was, and how their message might help or interest another person. People connect with others because of vulnerability, I believe it to be a person’s most endearing quality. It’s something almost everyone can relate to. Of course the weird and whacky is always one we love! It’s great to bring some light-heartedness in the midst of all the Garda reports and reality TV scandal.
3. Do you prefer email or phone pitches?
We can be so busy in the day that an email is always a good shout. If I had an extra arm, I still don’t think I can juggle everything that happens in a day. But if a pitch sparks our interest, there’s no harm leaving a number at the end in case we fancy learning a bit more.
4. What makes a good story?
People. As I said, our readers connect with people; they want to see a face instead of a product. I think that goes for many other publications. It’s great to see the heart of a person show through, whether it’s about a personal experience, charity work, or a career they’re passionate about.
5. Tell us something you wish more PR people knew about your job.
We can’t do everything. We know there’s pressure on your end but we have pressure too. I’ve so many friends in PR that I wish I could help out here and there but news comes before press releases about soap sometimes.
6. PR pet peeve?
Not explaining what the press release is about in the first few lines. We, like everyone else, lose interest if we don’t know what you’re pitching straight away. Journalists are professionals at scanning through e-mails but we always read the first line or two. It’s like reading a news story; will you read on if it’s not explained to you in the first paragraph? Not understanding our reader is another big one. I don’t write much on the business industry but I don’t mind receiving those emails because we have a great business section. Anything about the latest collection from a makeup company is not exactly Extra.ie, it’s more our sister site Evoke.ie kind of vibe. Before you pitch a story to Extra.ie, or any website really, there is a better chance of something happening with it when it’s clear you understand our brand. Even better, throw in my first name and a bit about why it’s suits Extra.ie! I’m always very impressed by that.
7. When is the best and worst time to pitch a story?
We work Monday to Sunday at Extra.ie, so there is no certain day that is best. Just give us a few days’ notice if you have a date in mind. If I can organise an interview with the person behind the pitch or product, I will. So it’s best to give about four or five days before you expect to see anything on the site.
8. What does a good PR picture look like to you?
The easier it is to understand, the better. I would be foolish to say it has to be this way or that, however. Some people love lots of flashy graphics while others prefer to keep it simple, but one thing I feel everyone can agree on is that it has to be eye-catching and capture the message well. I’m not going to be keen on learning more about a wellness brand if there’s flame emojis and harsh graphics in the picture. Like they say, a picture paints a thousand words so if you can get your message across in an instant there’s a good chance we’re interested to know more.
9. How can the PR industry continue to support and work effectively with journalists?
Send us the pitches you think we’ll grab on to, show us that you know our brand and we will do the same for you. It’s all about how we can both benefit each other, especially when times are difficult. You have something to promote, we want to create engaging content. The relationship between the PR industry and journalism industry is so important, in my opinion, because it would be quite a tough gig to have one without the other.