Tips from Daily Features Editor Mackenzie Dawson
by Nikelle Feimster, Media Relations Specialist, Business Wire/New York
Mackenzie Dawson, Daily Features Editor, New York Post
I recently had a chance to talk with Mackenzie Dawson, Daily Features Editor of the New York Post. Having worked in the PR industry, Dawson fully understands the challenges publicists face when it comes to working with the media. She has offered up some great tips on public relations best practices and shares some essential tactics to use in your next media relations campaign.
According to Dawson, developing relationships with reporters is one of the most important strategies in public relations. “With publicists, it should really be about targeted relationship building instead of cold calling. My ideal publicist is one who has really gotten to know me over time and has a good idea of the kind of news I cover.” Dawson says the best way to start building a relationship is to send good, thoughtful pitches that are cleverly written and concise. Once a relationship has developed, a trust factor can be built up and she will respond favorably to your pitches.
“A good publicist might send me a pitch six times a year instead of every week, but their batting average is higher,” Dawson continues. “They’re not sending me stories that are not relevant to what I cover.” She covers human interest stories, so sending a business story is definitely not going to work. It is also not a very good idea to pitch a story that has already been covered in another publication.
Dawson’s experience in the PR world has taught her a lot about the “dual client system.” Public relations practitioners have their clients they have to please, as well as the journalists they are trying to woo. When she worked in public relations, one of the things that bothered her the most was when her manager would always tell her to make as many phone calls to as many different media outlets as possible. Now that Dawson is on the other side of the fence, she realizes that technique just doesn’t work; all you end up doing is frustrating the journalists. Be sure to put more emphasis on quality, not quantity.
To put it briefly, Dawson compares working with the media to dating. She’s like the person you are trying to date; if you are interesting, then she’ll get back to you!
For more tips on how to put together a great feature news story, check out the Feature Writing Tips