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Blayne Alexander of 11Alive

Posted on July 18, 2012

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.

Blayne in action!

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. {Pop-out quote: “In my opinion, stories that make good television involve a compelling character.”}

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.

I’m sure couldn’t join us for lunch, but you can follow Blayne on Twitter (@ReporterBlayne) and email her with story ideas. Just remember, when you ask to be on TV – be ready when you’re called!

Jennifer Mayerle of CBS Atlanta

Posted on April 12, 2012
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.)

Atlanta INtown
By: Sarah Funderburk

We sat down with Atlanta INtown Owner and Publisher Wendy Binns and Editor Collin Kelley in their offices on Krog Street to learn more about this intown community newspaper.

Binns has been with Atlanta Intown since she graduated from the University of Virginia. She began her newspaper career as an account executive. An Atlanta native, Kelley is an award-winning novelist, poet and playwright whose most recent novel “Remain in Light” has been nominated for the Townsend Prize for Fiction.

As we were interviewing Binns and Kelley, we noticed we didn’t see anyone else around the office. These two basically make up the team, along with a few sales people and a graphic designer.

As for editorial needs, Kelley says, “We’re always looking for community events, fundraisers for our calendars as well as stories on Intown residents giving back to the community in unique ways.”

Learn more about Atlanta Intown by watching our video and reading more on the newspaper below.

Incidentally, Wendy has courageously battled cancer the past few months, updating readers in her monthly column about her progress. She underwent her last chemotherapy treatment just last week and reports she is feeling much better.

Info on Atlanta Intown


404.546.0002, www.AtlantaINtownPaper.com
154 Krog Street, Suite 135
Atlanta, GA 30307

• Wendy Binns, Owner & Publisher: 404.586.0027, wendy@atlantaintownpaper.com

• Collin Kelley, Editor: 404.586.0102, collin@atlantaintownpaper.com Contact Collin by email with story suggestions or questions.

Social Media
Atlanta Intown is active on social media, as you can tell from their large number of Twitter followers.
Twitter (@ATLINtownPaper) – 14,300 followers
Facebook – 1,463 likes/fans
Tumblr – 

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