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Category Archives: Blogging

medium

Why you should be reading (and writing for) Medium

The history of the internet is as much about the evolution of new platforms for self-expression as it about search or e-commerce. From the earliest WordPress blogs, to Facebook, to Twitter and Tumblr, the internet is constantly changing the way we compose, share and discover new content. Perhaps no site has had more influence on the way we write than Twitter, which taught us that thoughts must be 140 characters or less, turned the @ symbol into a beacon and the hashtag into a trend (and meme.)

As the founder of both Blogger and Twitter, Evan “Ev” Williams is directly responsible for much of this evolution, as this New York Times feature lays out. His latest venture, Medium, a blogging and content sharing platform launched in 2012, is yet another foray into reshaping content creation. At two years old Medium is fast winning fans amongst professional and lay writers alike – not to mention tech industry super stars like Elon Musk. Musk’s decision to use Medium to announce a new Tesla Model S feature even prompted TechCrunch to ask “Is the company blog dead?”

As news outlets debate the merits of contributed content, Medium is decidedly democratic – a place where anyone can share their thoughts, stories or opinions. It’s (as Williams puts it): “a level playing field that encourages ideas that come from anywhere.” And that playing field now gets over 13 MILLION unique visitors a month (according the New York Times).

So, what’s fueling Medium’s growth?

First off, it’s pretty. Check out this very blog post on Medium (how meta). I’m no blogging genius and far from a designer, laying out this post is designed to be incredibly intuitive. Medium’s bold and simple layout means that it does not take a user experience designer to publish a professional story.

It makes sharing easy. Medium combines “algorithmic and editorial curation,” to share posts with other readers based on topic interest and engagement. This means that it’s not just name recognition that gets you eyeballs, but the merit of the content within. Much as a tweet can go viral, so too can a Medium post. While Twitter lets you see what’s trending in real time, Medium offers a list of the recent top 100 posts. June’s top stories reveal the breadth of writing experience on display: an entrepreneur’s tale of her company’s failure ranks just ahead of a freelance New York Times Magazine writer’s examination of Britney Spears as feminist icon.

It’s getting serious.  As more journalists, freelance writers and want-to-be’s flock to Medium, the site is making its own transition towards more traditional media. In June, Medium announced they’d hired Steven Levy, a former senior writer for Wired and chief technology writer and senior editor at Newsweek, as the editor in chief of their new technology site. Naturally, Levy took to Medium to share the news himself:

“One of the things that I love about Medium is its commitment to experimentation, one that I fully embrace. So a precise description of what this new venture is going to eventually become is gleefully elusive. But I can tell you this—it will feature not only my own best writing but the work of contributors who share my belief in deeply reported, colorfully rendered stories in and around the tech explosion. We will also draw on some of the amazing contributions that are already flowing into Medium—not only professional writers but also smart people chiming in spontaneously—and bring in outside voices of authority who will express their concerns, share their thoughts, and generally provoke our readers.”

So, what does this news mean for you? While the exact shape of this new venture should become clearer in the coming months, right now entrepreneurs and thought leaders have a huge opportunity to get in front of Medium’s growing technology audience by publishing their news, ideas and opinions on the platform. What are you waiting for?

Read more from Lee Glandorf
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BlogFeatureImages16

On Bad Content & Why GigaOm Changed its Guest Post Policy

A Checklist for Your Contributed Content

GigaOm decided to limit guest posts and I understand why. Late last month, Tom Krazit explained why in his piece, We’re updating our policies toward guest posts on GigaOm. Here’s why. The main reason: bad content.

There is only one thing to say about this from a PR standpoint – garbage in, garbage out. Yes, PR people are likely going to help shape the content. This is not new, or news. While some have decried this ghost-writing trend, the practice has been around as long as thoughtful people have been writing and speaking in public. In fact, we revere the speechwriters who crafted the memorable words we quote from presidents like JFK. We accept that not all influencers are great writers (even Sheryl Sandberg had a co-writer for Lean In – her name is Nell Scovell).

PR people are often the conduit for ideas. We help translate complex concepts into stories that are accessible to a broader audience. And yes, we should do a better job at parsing the good from the bad. I want to side with PR people, because I am one, and a proud one. But I also get it. I don’t own a media property and even I get pitched on guest post topics for the InkHouse blog that have nothing to do with PR or content marketing.

The problem and the opportunity is that there are so many places to offer these great ideas that more people are getting into the game. Content draws eyeballs, which can create leads so we have lots of content in search of stardom through native advertising, guest posts, Op-Eds, Medium, LinkedIn Publishing and more.

This rush of content will eventually ebb, and as we’re seeing with GigaOm, the best will rise to the top. It begs an important question for PR people and our clients: what is good content in the age when everyone is an expert and anyone can publish? This is the issue that compelled GigaOm to change its policy.

Before you pitch a contributed piece, consider these questions:

  • Is your idea original? Is it your idea? You need to be passionate about the idea or else no one else will. Authenticity shines through interpersonal relationships and it’s no different between an author and a reader. The reader absorbs the author’s state of mind.
  • Is the topic relevant to the industry conversation? If yes, why? Is it a unique perspective or is it the same as everyone else’s point of view?
  • Is your topic timely? If it’s related to news, make sure it’s today’s news, not last week’s or last month’s.
  • Is your content promotional? Does it include verbiage about your products and services? Does it include links back to your product pages and sales teams? Does it include your favorite company buzzwords that have lost their meaning through over use (“best-of-breed” and “leading edge” are red flags)? If you answered yes to any of these questions, no respectable media outlet will run the piece.
  • Is it well written? We’re not all natural writers, and many great thinkers need the support of great writers. Enter good PR people!

The same timeless basics of good PR apply to contributed content. Make it thoughtful. Make it relevant. Make it unique. Make it good.

Read more from Beth Monaghan

Obamacare Takes On Funny Or Die

What do you get when you combine President Obama, Zach Galifianakis and two ferns? A spike in traffic to the Healthcare.gov website – and some positive press for the Affordable Care Act.

This week President Obama surprised everyone with his latest and probably greatest plug for HealthCare.gov when he appeared on Galifianakis’ show “Between Two Ferns” on Funny or Die. After talking about everything from pardoning turkeys to Dennis Rodman to North Ikea, they got down to business and addressed the President’s goal of providing health insurance to all Americans.

While a Funny or Die skit might seem like a pretty odd place to talk about healthcare, it is actually a great example of understanding your target audience,  in this case is young adults aged 18 to 34, including how and where they consume information. Despite the fact that not all Funny or Die viewers will sign up for insurance via Healthcare.gov doesn’t diminish the value the skit provided. It gave the President the opportunity to use humor to address a topic that has received a lot of negative attention these past few months on a large, very popular stage.

In the first 12 hours after the video aired there were 19,000 referrals visits to Healthcare.gov and the numbers are still climbing. The video has had more than 15 million views and more than 270,000 Facebook likes. The video worked – people are talking about it, and in turn the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Sometimes the most effective way to get your message across requires stepping outside the box – and taking an interview with a guy who admits he smells like Doritos.

Read more from Jackie D'Andrea

9 Best Practices for Pitching Mommy Bloggers

A funny thing happened to me.

Sometime during the last two years, between working full time in PR at InkHouse and raising a family, I became a Mommy blogger. At first it was just a hobby, but I quickly realized I had found my voice and started nurturing my blog using many of the strategies that we at InkHouse put into practice every day for our clients. I use analytics to gauge the topics that resonate most. I distribute my content to relevant audiences using multiple channels to. I found places to seed and syndicate my blog posts including the local Patch site, a parenting website and even on Huffington Post Parents. I engaged with my readers and the Mommy blog community in general, through Twitter, commenting and so on. Soon enough, my little blog had a decent following and, to me, felt like home. So, as both a PR “veteran” and a “newbie” Mommy blogger, I wanted to offer the following  best practices for pitching Mommy bloggers.

But before I do, it’s worth taking a moment to consider why there are so many Mommy and Daddy bloggers. Speaking for myself, I blog to share my experiences as a working Mom, examine the daily challenges and frustrations of kids and raise issues – but mostly to laugh at the craziness of this time in my life. In doing so, us Mommy bloggers naturally share and connect with each other. But, for many Mommy bloggers, their blog is also a business venture. Brands know that Moms represent a powerful demographic with influence over purchasing decisions as well as a large voice on social media – and, for many Mommy bloggers, this spells opportunity. While generating revenue is not the mission of my blog, I have huge respect for those who have become respected brand ambassadors and turned their blogs into influential revenue-driving businesses at the same time.

I spend a large portion of my days here at InkHouse pitching bloggers and reporters on behalf of my clients. So imagine my surprise when, in a strange reversal of roles, people started pitching me! It has been a real eye-opener as, in truth, the large majority of these pitches fail to hit the mark. These tips can you ensure your pitch is a bullseye.

  1. Read: Job number one is to visit the blog you are pitching, read several posts and understand the mission of the blog. Is this the blog written by a mom who is journaling her daily parenting experiences? Is it more of a Mommy confessional? Does it tackle issues like health, education, behavior …etc.?  Does the blog accept guest contributions? Does it review products? This last one is my pet peeve because I’m quite often asked to review products and if you read my blog, you’d realize that it I don’t do this.
  2. Get social: Mommy bloggers are a vocal bunch. We are incredibly active on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and so on. Before pitching, check out what they are doing and saying on each of these channels. Are they hosting Twitter parties? Are they running a brand campaign? Are they pinning recipes and after graphs? Are they commenting on hot issues? Every social action interaction is a clue, if you will, to help you formulate the best approach for each blogger.
  3. Engage: This goes hand-in-hand with the above. Get chatty! Especially on Twitter. Build a relationship on social channels through non-promotional conversation – just be you! It will pay dividends when you finally reach out.
  4. Relate: Don’t be impersonal when pitching a Mommy blogger. While you may not be a parent, show that you can relate to them and their universe. Let them know why their audience would care about your pitch topic or offer. Authenticity and relevance go a long way to making a good impression with bloggers.
  5. Mix it up: Don’t just push products: Mommy bloggers enjoy many forms of content like videos, photos, and infographics. Provide the content assets that will help ensure that what they publish is visually strong, interesting and entertaining. Because that will make it inherently more shareable.
  6. Get linky: Mommy blogs often create opportunities to link your blog to their blog via link ups or blog hops.. Checkout 5MinutesforMom’s annual ultimate blog party, for example or Scratchy Mommy’s weekly link up. Research which of your target blogs offer these and get linky. It can help drive a great deal of traffic to your content too.
  7. Spend a little bit of money: As I said many Mommy blogs are a small business themselves. Often they might require a small amount of money to write up review a product, host a Twitter party or a custom campaign. Do it; it’s worth it. There are also paid networks of Mommy bloggers like Social Moms via which you can create campaigns and buzz.
  8. Giveaways: Many Mommy blog love to offer their readers giveaways or contest prizes and offer paid packages to help you reach a mass audience. This can be a great way to not only boost visibility but to also get your product directly into the hands of your target audience.
  9. A final note about guest posts: Not all Mommy blogs accept them but some do. It’s always worth reading their  “about” or “about me” sections to find out. Make sure, when you pitch a contributed post, that you propose a specific topic/angle rather than something too general. Don’t be promotional. Make it relatable and authentic, in line with the tone and voice of the blog.
Read more from Samantha McGarry
feb21prwriting

Seven Tips for Good PR Writing

There’s an unfinished conference room in the back of our office where no one ever goes. Table tops lie on their sides with no legs. Deconstructed cubicles stand against the walls, shelves and desktops assorted like giant puzzle pieces. A dry erase marker lies on the ground, never used.

It’s there in the dark that I write.

As public relations professionals, content generation is becoming an ever more important part of our job. Clients need a continuous stream of blog posts, opinion articles, news releases, feature articles and social media posts to connect with their audiences.

I’ve been writing a lot of content recently. For me, writing good content taps a different part of the brain than that required for the conference calls, quick-response emails and meetings that dominate most days. Here are seven things that help me when writing content for PR.

1. Cut the coffee. On writing days I skip the coffee. When undercaffeinated and relaxed, my writing is smoother and more conversational. Back in my reporter days, I tried the whiskey in the bottom drawer trick but that made me a little too relaxed. Save that ‘til after the writing’s done.

2. Ditch your desk. I associate my desk with the flurry of activity that fills most days – the constant emails, phone calls and Twitter checks. By moving to a different location to write such as an arm chair in the lobby, I remove myself from that frenetic mindset and can think more clearly. Ideas flow and words arrive.

3. Lean back. An NBC News article featuring InkHouse’s own Beth Monaghan pointed out that posture makes a huge difference in how you feel and think. I couldn’t agree more. I write far more clearly and quickly when I’m leaning back – while seated on the floor of a dark conference room in the back of the office, say — instead of perched forward on the edge of my seat at a desk. Sure, colleagues will ask about the sketchy character writing in the dark but they’ll get used to it after a while.

4. Peek at photos. I know this sounds weird but looking at photos of beautiful art, the ocean or wildlife just before writing helps me think and write more creatively. The same goes for reading longer, thoughtful articles in The New Yorker, say, or Grantland. Stay away from breaking news, which will make you tense and less able to write well.

5. Exit email. You’ve heard this 1,000 times so I won’t dwell on it. Constant email checks are the bane of good writing.

6. Clear a chunk of time. For me, blocking off a couple hours or even a morning to write blog posts or a contributed article is the most efficient way to lose myself in the story and write it well. If I try to squeeze it in between client calls and emails, it always takes three times as long – if it gets done at all.

7. Make it a conversation. I try and think of every article, release or post I write as a conversation with the person who’s reading it. I write like I would say it. I use short sentences as if I were talking. Thinking of it as a conversation makes what you’re writing – you guessed it – more conversational and easier to read. You’d never say “functionality” and “value proposition” so why would you write them?

Those are things that help me write well. What works for you?

Read more from John McElhenny
contentpost

Moving Beyond Text for PR Success

 

Earlier this week InkHouse participated in a PR News Webinar called Pitching the Media: How to Cut Through The Clutter. Our colleagues on the panel included Tracy Schario, communications officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, who talked about why it’s essential to be aware of major news events – either to plug into them or to avoid pitching at a time when journalists are otherwise occupied; and Jane Carpenter, head of public relations for online home retailer Wayfair, discussed how to build personal relationships with journalists.

For our part, InkHouse explained why it’s important to move beyond text when pitching, to include things like graphics and film as a way to stand out. Here’s some background: Newsroom cutbacks in 2012 put the industry down 30 percent since its peak in 2000. But media properties from Forbes, to TechCrunch, VentureBeat, the Atlantic Monthly, Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post, and Wired (to name a few) all publish contributed content. This means that news outlets are hungry for journalistic content. And yet, it should not all be text based because 90 percent of the information transmitted to our brains is visual and we process that content 60,000 times faster than text.

Social media trends are reflecting this insight as well. Just look at the surging popularity of Instagram, which hit 100 million users earlier this year, and marked 5 million videos within the first 24 hours of debuting the offering. The good news is there is tremendous opportunity for publishing content. The trick is to make it stand out from the very crowded market.

Here are just three of the tips we shared on how to do this:

1. Make the content journalistic. Social content is about how you think, not what you do. When companies “publish promotional information or tired case studies masquerading as thought leadership, results fall flat,” according to Forrester Research. We agree.

2. Use data to validate your point of view. Whether it is your own proprietary information, a partnership with a third party, or aggregating others’ data, backup your claims with facts.

3. If you are launching a new product, consider pitching a video instead of a just sending a press release.  News sites are often hungry for visual content. That goes for infographics, too. The bottom line is social content brings people to your digital media properties by providing fuel for engaging with the press more regularly; driving coverage in and of itself; and illuminates your perspective, which fuels interest for quotes and coverage. Social content is also great because you can control it – the message and the distribution.

Read more from Tina Cassidy

The In2 Innovation Summit in 10 Quotes

 

Last week I attended The Holmes Report In2 Innovation Summit, the first in what The Holmes Report hopes to be a “global series of events bringing our industry’s great thinkers together to discuss and deliberate and (hopefully) disagree on topics related to insight and innovation.”

 

The inaugural event took place in San Francisco and attendees included mostly agency and in-house PR and marketing professionals. Over the course of two days, keynote speakers and panelists discussed a variety of topics such as the value and risk of data, relevance in an era of noise, what makes for innovative storytelling, the power of content marketing, etc.

 

Two days’ worth of content ultimately boiled down to this: Regardless of the context in which you work – large or small company, agency or in-house, East or West Coast or somewhere in the middle, retail, manufacturing, financial services or any other industry – the success of your job is closely tied to your ability to truly understand your audience; be creative with the content you develop; deliberate about how, when and where to distribute that content; authentic in the relationships you build with customers and influencers; and smart in how you measure the impact of your campaign or program.

 

The Holmes Report has done a great job reporting on the most interesting of panels. I walked away from the summit with the following sound bites firmly lodged in my brain (please note I’m paraphrasing!) .

 

  1. Don’t ‘craft’ a message – tell me what you would tell your spouse when you come home at the end of the day. – Chris Taylor, Mashable
  2. Love thy reporter. If you don’t love journalism, and journalists, you’re in the wrong profession. We have a role in enabling great journalism. – Gabriel Stricker, Twitter
  3. Focus on social business instead of social media. – Dan Moriarty, Hyatt
  4. Be fearless and experiment. – Kim Milosevich, Andreessen Horowitz
  5. As communicators we’re typically not that comfortable in a quantitative world. But our strategic value at the table is enhanced by our comfort with numbers.
  6. We sometimes try too desperately to find value in a tweet.
  7. People should be able to tell the story by the images, even if they can’t read the text. – Brett Wallace, LinkedIn
  8. I haven’t met a founder yet who doesn’t understand the power of PR. – Jodi Olson, Google Ventures
  9. I don’t want to be in the news business, I don’t want to constantly generate content – I’m not interesting enough. Oreo screwed all of us. We’re getting pressured into doing that. – David Matahia, Hyundai

 

To which Tom Foremski, Silicon Valley Watcher, countered…

 

10     Well, every company is a media company, but that doesn’t mean you have to be CNN.

 

Read more from admin
nativeadvertising

Is Native Advertising Right For You?

That buzz around native advertising is now a loud vibration that is difficult to ignore.

Earlier this month, the New York Times became the most significant carrier of native advertising when it officially launched its program to host sponsored content with a six-figure three-month deal with Dell. While sites larger than NYTimes.com (yeah, Buzzfeed, I’m talking about you) and others that are highly respected (Washington Post, Vanity Fair) were already carrying sponsored content, the Times made it seem as if the Rubicon had been crossed.

Then, this week, Forrester analyst Ryan Skinner released a report saying that native advertising is “worth pursuing” — he meant for those writing the checks, of course, but it’s also worth pursuing for those on the receiving end, as well.

A couple days after the Forrester report, NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen, in an interview with Contently, gave what sounded like a ringing endorsement of native advertising when he said it “is a kind of ad that can compete with the best material out there. That is different from advertorials.”

Rosen is right.  But not every enterprise has Dell’s budget. And not every enterprise needs to. Right now, there are many CEOs, domain experts and professionals who have interesting things to say, whether it’s a point of view about an industry, a solution to a problem, an idea that they want to share or new data that creates insights. If this information, packaged as an ‘article’ or an infographic, a video or a slideshow, can be created in a way that is helpful or even entertaining (without sounding like an advertorial), it can get published, just like real journalism, on legitimate sites such as Forbes, the Harvard Business Review, Fast Co., Wired, and many others, even in certain sections of the New York Times, without having to pay.

Granted, native ads have the benefit of landing prime real estate on a web site, which can help the posts go viral. You can see great examples of that happening here. But one needs only to look at YouTube to know that even mediocre content (have you seen Hallway Swimming?) – can draw an enormous number of clicks, more than double what the native advertising leaderboard winners have gotten, without paying to boost their views.

So, where does that leave us? Brands that historically have been only good at talking about themselves, now are hiring journalists to produce content that – for a price — can live on the website of choice. This is a great gig for many former journalists like me; it’s a refreshing type of advertising for a large corporation with a huge advertising budget to experiment with; and it’s awesome for the Times’s bottom line and potentially its long-suffering shareholders (of which I am one.)

Forrester’s Skinner correctly says that while native advertising is worth pursuing, he doesn’t mean brands should “pour all your advertising dollars into it, ‘go hog wild!’ or any variant on that theme. By ‘worth pursuing’, I would say that it: a) is a very imperfect tactic, b) holds great promise, and c) requires some experience to get right.”

At InkHouse, we’d agree.

Read more from Tina Cassidy
6

4 Ways to Overcome Writer’s Doubt

“Everyone already knows that.” I’ve been hearing this a lot recently. It is almost always the answer to this question: “Would you write an article or blog post about that idea?”

These insightful thinkers – PhDs, industry veterans, book authors, and scientific geniuses – all question the uniqueness of their insights.

These smart people are entrenched in their businesses. They are talking to their customers every day. They’ve seen problems that others do not know about yet, and they’re creating solutions that no one else is thinking about yet. But when the spotlight shifts away from products to ideas, it elicits  a very human response, even among seasoned CEOs: doubt.

When you’re seeking a wide audience, it’s healthy and prudent to question your ideas. Overcoming doubt can be tough. However, in our work at InkHouse, doubt often signals the best ideas. Those who question their ideas most aggressively are often the ones who’ve done the most research and spent the most time thinking about these problems.

Helping clients overcome this kind of doubt is part of a PR person’s job. It’s critical because content has become such a large component of any successful PR program. The opportunity for content has never been greater.

So how should you test the viability of your ideas? Try these litmus tests:

  1. Your passion. Is this a topic that gets you excited, frustrated, angry? Good. That is an important starting place for all good thought leadership. If you agree with everyone else, chances are that you’re not too passionate about the topic. So look for discord.
  2. The press. How are the press covering your topic right now? If it’s getting a lot of coverage, is your perspective different? Is it different enough to stand out? If it’s not, is it related to another popular topic? Does your viewpoint add something critical to that discussion? If you can answer “yes” to any of these, it’s a good topic.
  3. Your authority. Why are you uniquely qualified to have an opinion about your topic? Did you write a book about it? Have you studied it? Do you have proprietary data that gives you unique insight? Have you simply been in your field for a long time and shown that you know how to succeed? Again, a “yes” to any of these is a good sign.
  4. The potential audience. Consider your target audience and the one for your point of view. Are they the same? If the answer is “no” then this is not your topic.

A good contributed article or blog post rests on a point of view that is relevant enough to be part of the industry discussion, but unique enough to stand out. These ideas must spark interest and discussion. They need to compel your audience to share your content. So be picky, but not too picky. If doubt is the only thing holding you back, it might be time to take a leap of faith. As Hemingway wrote, “As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.”

Related articles and posts:

 

Read more from Beth Monaghan
awardwinning

An Award-Winning Year at InkHouse

Today our client Skanska USA won The Bulldog Digital/Social Awards gold medal, the highest honor for Best Corporate Blog, judged exclusively by digital- and social-media-savvy working journalists and bloggers. We worked with Skanska to launch “Constructive Thinking” last April to highlight the company’s thought leadership in a multi-media way and have been proud of the results so far.

As our clients know, we take blogging seriously at InkHouse—including our own blog, InkLings—and view it as the foundation for many of our social content and media relations efforts. Our approach is one of the reasons why last year both Bulldog Reporter and PR News named InkHouse a Small Agency of the Year. This year, InkHouse was named a Best Place to Work by the Boston Business Journal and a Top Women-Led Business by the Boston Globe and Commonwealth Institute. In addition to agency awards, InkHouse has earned multiple industry awards on behalf of client work in the past year, including:

  • 2013 Bell Ringer for Raytheon Professional Services Corporate Blog
  • 2013 PR News PR Agency Elite Honorable Mention for Cause/CSR for Raytheon
  • 2013 PR Daily Best Issue/Cause Advocacy Campaign, Honorable Mention for Raytheon CSR, MATHCOUNTS National Competition

 

Read more from Tina Cassidy

Peter Kafka of AllThingsD on Tech, Journalism and Sorting through the Noise

Peter Kafka, senior editor at AllThingsD, has been covering the technology beat since 1997. The NYC-based reporter (whose first job out of college was at the Minnesota Real Estate Journal) has experienced first-hand how online journalism and social media has brought about the 24/7 news cycle – dramatically reshaping journalism in the process. He was kind enough to chat with me about covering technology in 2013.

Q. How has tech journalism changed since you started on the beat in 1997?

A. The tight answer is that the pace is much faster…[Back then] people were covering the news in print magazines. That’s the really obvious change. Now it’s all online, on your phone – the news cycle is nearly 24/7.

Q: There’s so much competition to get the news up fast and be first especially with social media. What do you see as the biggest challenge for journalists today?

A. The challenge is there’s a lot of competition. If you work at the wire services, it’s very important to be first. For everybody else, the question is, “How do you add value for the reader?” Most readers don’t care if you’re first. How do you provide the smart take on the story and present people with the right story? I think a lot about what not to cover for my readers. If I’m telling you something, I want to make sure I think it’s interesting and that you’ll think it’s interesting.

Q. How many stories do you write a day?

A. It ranges from one to four.

Q. How do you decide what to write about?

A. For me, it’s a gut check. Would I click on it? And if I did, would I find it interesting? The main conflict I have with (PR people) is they’re usually trying to represent something to me that they and their clients think is important and the rest of world doesn’t. It doesn’t matter how you dress up the pitch.

Q. How should news organizations balance the need to involve and expand their audiences through likes, shares, etc. with the responsibility to provide important news that matters?

A. You can try to game the system and a lot of people do that. [But] if you find a story that’s interesting and important, readers will take care of passing that along for you. It’s worthwhile for us to make things more shareable on Twitter – but we can’t spend too much time thinking about that.

Q. You’re very active on Twitter – does your social media activity inform your reporting?

A. No. Twitter is a very good way for me to find out what other people are writing about. And it’s great fun…but it’s very easy to overstate the value of it for a news organization. A lot of times I’ll start thinking I accomplished a lot in a day and then I realize I’ve just been tweeting. I’m very unlikely to find a good story on Twitter. I still find stories the old-fashioned way, by calling sources and taking meetings.

Q. We’ve seen some high profile journalists move to Yahoo in recent weeks. What do you think of Yahoo’s ability to compete as a serious news organization?

A. They could if they wanted to. They have the resources, so we’ll see. It doesn’t seem like it’s in their domain to do that.

Previous posts in our journalist Q&A series include:

Read more from Lisa van der Pool