After graduating from Duke University with a degree in English, Blayne Alexander of WXIA 11Alive began her television career when her mentor secured an interview for her with NBC News Washington – not a bad first gig, right? She worked as a production assistant for NBC Nightly News, where she field produced at the White House and on Capitol Hill. She also found time to produce stories for msnbc.com.
Although Blayne was front and center covering the election of President Obama, don’t assume you have her all figured out. In the spirit of true journalism, Blayne never talks about her political affiliations – she reports the news with an objective view and doesn’t want anyone to think that’s tainted with her own biases.
After Washington, Blayne moved to Augusta, Ga. to work with WRDW-TV before she landed at WXIA in Atlanta in 2011. In Augusta, Blayne focused on education as a general assignment reporter, but in Atlanta she’s covered a wide range of stories from student loans to lettuce!
Over our delicious (and healthy!) lunch at Metro Fresh, I asked Blayne about her favorite types of stories to cover. She revealed she really enjoyed human-interest stories – telling the story of people viewers wouldn’t normally hear.
“In my opinion, stories that make good television involve a compelling character.”- Blayne
As we’ve heard from other journalists, Blayne likes timely stories and exclusives. No station wants to run the exact stories as their competitors. She brought up an interesting point though – sometimes TV stations do have to cover the same stories. Every station in the nation probably covered Affordable Care Act decision, but no station wants to run 24 hours of nonstop coverage of it (well, maybe C-SPAN, but that’s it). Blayne suggests sending stories for breakout segments. Topical stories are used to provide viewers a break from long, but important stories.
Over our chocolate chip cookies, I asked her my favorite question. Journalists don’t seem to want to answer when I ask what their biggest pet peeve about PR pros. I tell them the truth, I ask because I want to know – and I’m sure you want to know as well! In the world of PR and journalism, I’d like to find the best way for everyone to work together – starting with not frustrating each other!
Blayne wanted to us to be conscious of the fact that reporters aren’t sitting by the computer, checking their emails. They spend even less time waiting for your call at their desks. Feel free to send pitches you think might interest her, but understand that, just like you, she gets hundreds of emails a day. She probably is not going to respond to all of them – who would report the news?
Another pet peeve Blayne mentioned was not following up and not being available. If you ask to be on TV, be ready when she calls you. Yes, this may mean getting up early, staying up late or even working on weekends. She told me about people saying they’d get right back with her with information she needed, and then never calling her back. All you need to do is use your manners! Keep reporters updated on progress and everyone will be happy. When the lines of communication are open, great things happen.
Even if she called me in the 11th hour, I’d do everything possible to have my clients available for comment, but if there was no way this could happen – I’d just tell her the truth and hope she would use my clients another time.
When Blayne’s not shooting, editing and reporting her own stories for 11Alive, you might find her volunteering, mentoring kids or running. Yep, that’s right – she does it all. She recently completed the Peachtree Road Race and is trying to be a long-distance runner. She serves on the board of directors for The Scholarship Academy, which helps low-income college students gain access to financial aide and helps them better package themselves.
She’s also passionate about raising awareness about HIV/AIDS. In her words, there are a lot of misconceptions about this disease. Blayne’s an active member of Atlanta Association of Black Journalists and National Association of Black Journalists. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and Junior League Atlanta.