‘A privilege to have rich conversations for a living’

Kevin Kaminski, group editor of Lifestyle Media Group in South Florida, shares career highlights and describes the three traits of successful publicists.

Media relations tips from RCG

Q: What is your day like? And/or, what do you like most about being a magazine editor?

A: I wrote about this for our September issue. For me, it’s the opportunity to learn about so many interesting, accomplished, and passionate people. It’s never lost on me, in 20 years of being an editor at regional magazines, that it’s a privilege to have such rich conversations for a living. I’ve been humbled time and again by moments in interviews where someone you just met shares something deeply personal and unexpected. So many of those moments stay with you. Like Lori Alhadeff, months after her daughter was murdered in the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (one of 17 killed on Feb. 14, 2018), walking me through the worst 24 hours of her life in excruciating detail.

Q: Could you comment on the state of the media landscape — are there fewer reporters to cover stories? If so, how do stories get prioritized?

A: I’ll just share my own situation. Though Lifestyle Media Group is fortunate to have a strong foundation and stellar leadership at the top — indeed, we never stopped publishing monthly editions during the pandemic — the company did adjust amid COVID-19. Editorially, that meant working leaner than ever. I typically write the majority of the stories in a given issue of Lifestyle, with help from a few freelancers and no full-time assistant editors. Stories are prioritized based on issue themes and overall pertinence to our markets (Boca Raton/Delray, much of Broward County, and affluent communities in Miami) and our editorial mission.

Q: Regarding relationships with publicists: Could you comment on the overall quality of pitches? What does a good pitch look like?

A: When you’re a one-man band, surveying the tri-county region for stories/items that resonate with your readers, you rely on publicists more than ever. Especially during COVID. I’ve reached out to PR professionals for sources connected to specific stories — or for suggestions about stories still being fleshed out — countless times over the past year-plus. Certain publicists in South Florida know their communities so well that they’re able to provide helpful insights beyond just their client base.

Q: Do you recall a really good pitch? Or a really ineffective one?

A: There always are pitches that will be considered for a lifestyle publication like ours — restaurant openings, news about the arts, philanthropic efforts, etc. But the pitches that catch my eye are ones tailored to our content — where the publicist takes the time to review the magazine and make suggestions based on recurring departments or past content. Ineffective pitches? Ones that misspell my name, that are intended for a competitor magazine, or that pitch something that has zero to do with our editorial mission.

Q: What are the three key traits of a good publicist?

A:   1. Someone who takes the time to learn enough about your magazine to make informed suggestions/pitches. Or who creates an innovative pitch based on what they know about your publication.

  1. Someone who goes the extra mile once their foot is in the door to ensure a positive experience (strong communication throughout, securing materials needed to bring the story to life, good follow-up after the story appears, etc.)
  2. Someone who understands that some pitches, even if on-brand, may not work for an issue because of timing, other content in the issue, or just that the editor doesn’t have the bandwidth that month — but who remains undaunted and continues looking for different ways to work with a publication.

Q: Ragan Consulting Group helps clients create brand journalism websites. BOK Financial and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts are two such examples, and both organizations have had their stories picked up by mainstream press. The question is: As more and more companies “act like media companies” in our digital, always-on, SEO-driven world, are you seeing better corporate content out there? And does that help the Lifestyle magazine reporting process?

A: We are not accepting “sponsored content” or branded stories for the print publication or as blogs on our website. However, there is value in these detailed pieces as background/educational material when putting together certain stories.

Q: What has been your most important story and why?

A: Lifestyle was the only regional magazine to cover the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. We dedicated an entire issue to the tragedy, its aftermath, its impact on the community, and bigger-picture question connected to gun violence.

At the 2018 Florida Magazine Association awards, Lifestyle was honored in the categories of Best Overall Magazine and Best Overall Writing — two of 10 first-place honors that night. Since then, we’ve continued to profile people, discuss issues, and share stories connected to Feb. 14, 2018.

Q: What else would you like to share with a communications audience to help facilitate the creation of fact-based news?

A: Share your truth (or the truth about your client) — without overselling it. If you have a good client/brand/business story to share, and you can encapsulate that story, we’ll recognize its value to our readers.

RCG specializes in corporate communications training, consulting and strategic counsel. Schedule a call with Kristin Hart to learn how we can help you improve your brand journalism and storytelling strategy. Follow RCG on LinkedIn here.

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