PR 101: Meet the Media

Meet the Media with Jennifer Mayerle of CBS Atlanta

I’ll admit, I was a little nervous to meet Jennifer Mayerle. I mean, she’s an Emmy Award-winning journalist, and that’s just one of her many awards. Jennifer has also received the Georgia Associated Press Broadcasters Associations awards for Best General Reporting, Best Anchor/Reporter and Best Series Reporting, an Edward R. Murrow award and the Apex Society’s 2008 “Power 30 under 30” award.

I sat down with Jennifer over iced coffee and green tea at the Starbucks minutes from the CBS Atlanta building. I don’t know if you follow her on Twitter (@CBSATLMayerle), but if you do – you know how lucky I was to sit down with her. Sometimes I wake up and check Twitter before I’m out of bed and see that she’s already been following a story for three hours! Even though she’s constantly looking for the latest news for the city of Atlanta, she was able to let us in on a few insider details on how to get your client’s story on CBS Atlanta.

Jennifer says she usually gets most of her stories from the community and other sources. New to the “day shift” at CBS Atlanta, she thinks she’ll have more opportunities to do more pitched stories. But, she did have a few comments on what NOT to do, “Please don’t send me incomplete information. Make sure you know what station I am with, because I’ve had emails reading, ‘Hi Jennifer Mayerle with [a competing news channel].’ I won’t read those emails.”

Also, just as Collin from Atlanta INtown stated, it’s a good habit to proofread emails before sending them to Mayerle. I think it’s safe to say that you lose credibility if you have spelling errors or wrong information.

A very cool thing about Jennifer is her take on social media. I actually tweeted her to set up the interview, she got right back with me, and voilà! She says she likes Twitter because it comes straight to her phone. If you see news happening, snap a picture and then tweet it in to her or CBS (@CBSATL). This is much easier than trying to contact a reporter via desk phone, especially because they are hardly at their desks at all!

So, what kinds of stories should you send to Jennifer? A true Atlanta lover, she enjoys covering stories that are community based; those stories that promote positive changes or benefits to the community at large are perfect. And although she prefers hearing about stories that have broad appeal, she does not like receiving mass emails.

“I know that you want the most people to cover the stories, but no one likes to walk in the morning meeting with a great idea that everyone else has too. Like most reporters, I like to receive exclusive information.”

Jennifer is also doing more investigative work, as that presents more of a challenge to her. Stories that hold officials accountable and coincide with CBS’s Tough Questions are another topic Jennifer likes. She also likes to cover women’s health issues, as she often speaks on eating disorders and promoting positive body image.

What’s the typical day like in the life of a busy Atlanta reporter? There’s no typical day! Jennifer says she goes to the editorial meeting in the morning to discuss with other reporters, producers, the assignment desk and the news director what has happened the night before and what is happening now. They decide what should be covered and then she starts making calls to collect information on stories she’s covering. Next, she’ll hop in the live trucks with her photographer and get ready to do live shots and interviews for the 4, 5 and 6 o’ clock news programs. She’s pulled away from her planned location for breaking news maybe once a week, but it’s all part of the job.

If you want your client on CBS Atlanta, here are a few hints:
• Day shift reporters need to be armed with stories by the 9:30 a.m. meeting
• Night shift reporters come in for their meeting around 2:30 p.m.
• If there’s a certain event to be covered, 1-2 days notice is preferred so all facts can be collected
• Every reporter is different, but Jennifer usually has her “downtime” between 3-5 p.m. She usually makes her calls during this time, so if you’d like her to cover your story, get it to her by 3 p.m. for the best chance!
• Images and videos supplied by PR firms will not be used in most cases. You can send these visuals, but CBS likes to use their own shots and live video.

In what little free time she has, Jennifer loves to travel as much as she can, attend community events and spend time with friends. And don’t be surprised if you see her running in Piedmont Park or in your next yoga class. As I mentioned before, she speaks at schools and conferences about eating disorders and body images. After her best friend from high school lost her battle with anorexia, she became extremely passionate about it

‘Jennifer came to Atlanta from Mobile, Alabama, where she was a weekend anchor/reporter. It was in Mobile that she gained international exposure for her coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She won her first Emmy for her interview with Hardy Jackson in Biloxi, Miss. just hours after the storm passed. Jackson recalled how his wife was swept away from his grasp by the floodwaters. Through her experience with Katrina and its aftermath, Jennifer realized the strength of communities along the Gulf Coast that extends to cities such as Atlanta.’ (Paraphrased from her bio on CBS Atlanta’s website.)

-Sarah Funderburk

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