Schwartz Media Strategies took a big step forward when we added Paola Iuspa-Abbott to our team as Director of Media Relations. But it could be argued that Paola took an even bigger leap, hanging up her press badge after 15-plus years in journalism to make a move to the proverbial ‘dark side’ of public relations.
Paola has been busy to say the least, but we managed to steal a few minutes for a quick chat about what she’s learned during her time with us and what she hopes to bring to the firm in her new role.
You joined Schwartz Media after more than a decade in journalism. Are you suffering newsroom withdrawal?
I loved my career as a reporter, but I have found that there is a great deal of overlap between traditional journalism and PR. It’s critical that we remain up to speed on current events and breaking news, always keeping our clients ahead of regional, national and international trends and figuring out how they fit into the story. We run our firm like a newsroom, beginning with morning meetings to discuss the news of the day. My new role allows me to marry my love for the news with my entrepreneurial spirit.
How are you applying your journalism experience as Director of Media Relations?
Where do I begin? From writing to people skills, these professions have so much in common. My research background has really come in handy. I’ve found that I’m putting in just as much time researching story lines as a publicist as I did a reporter. The only thing that has changed is my audience; I used to write for my readers, but I’m now writing to catch the attention of editors and reporters. Even still, my goal is to cut through the clutter to get to the point: what’s important and why is it timely now?
How are you positioning the firm among domestic and international journalists?
I serve as a resource and a primary point of contact for regional, national and global media. I want Schwartz Media Strategies to be the media’s first option when looking for a new trend, an industry source, or the latest statistics to bolster their story. Our clients reflect just about every major industry in Florida and in key markets across the country and beyond, so I’m working overtime to make sure media views us as a go-to public relations firm.
Are you applying your journalistic ethics to public relations?
Great question. I’m always taking a conservative approach to ensuring our firm’s media outreach is accurate, well-researched and balanced. I received countless ‘pitches’ over the years and it always amazed me how many times people over-promised or suggested story lines that were self-serving. Reporters want to know that you are unbiased and that your angle is grounded in fact. No matter the client or the media outlet, I try to create a story that will be interesting to the end user.
Have any former newspaper colleagues accused you of going to the “dark side?”
Having seen both sides of the media equation, I’m not sure whether either side is really ‘dark.’ The traditional newspaper industry has evolved into a ghost of its former self in many cases. Today’s model tends to put a lot of pressure on reporters, and sometimes, quality of content is unintentionally compromised. Public relations allows me to remain in tune with the news cycle while at the same time contributing to a growing business.