Tag Archives: Inside PRN

Inside PR Newswire: Meet Customer Content Services Manager Cathy Spicer

The Grammar Hammer, who is also known to her friends as Cathy Spicer, is on vacation this week.   So while she’s away, we’re giving our readers a chance to know her better, in this edition of Inside PR Newswire.

cate fluteThe key to quieting the chatter in Cathy Spicer’s life is simple.

She picks up her flute.

“My outlet is music. It’s important to have a creative outlet to balance the work stress,” says Spicer, PR Newswire customer content services manager in Cleveland. “I’m always in such admiration of the people who play professionally because they’re so skilled and talented. It shows me just how much I have yet to learn.”

Spicer has been playing flute for 30 years. She especially loves duets and remains in awe of flutists who flawlessly play complicated pieces of music.

cate big flute

“I can appreciate the effort that goes into a person trying to master a piece of music,” she said. “You’re so focused on the music and what the next passage is going to be.”

This kind of focus and thinking also has benefitted Spicer in her PR Newswire life. In April, Spicer will celebrate her 18th year with the company.

Spicer started out as an assistant editor in the Cleveland office. It was her first big job out of college.

Today, she oversees an eight-person team that’s the primary contact with clients from the northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, with the exception of New York. Her team primarily handles the editing of news releases, and it manages customer calls to the PR Newswire 800 number.

The calls into that line cover the gamut: Billing questions, inquiries from new prospects, clients with an immediate release to send out, or clients with changes to make on a current release.

Spicer is incredibly proud of her group.

“They have good instincts,” she said. “They know our policies and procedures, and we have a lot of great resources around us. We work in a very collaborative environment.”

Spicer spent some time opening the PR Newswire office in Chicago, where she spent 10 years before moving back to Cleveland.

In addition to managing her team, Spicer also can be found immersed in social media.

Spicer is the new Grammar Hammer contributor on the PR Newswire Beyond PR blog. She’s also part of a three-person team that curates the @PRNcnsmr Twitter feed.

On Twitter, Spicer and her colleagues from Albuquerque tweet PR Newswire consumer-related content.  The feed currently boasts nearly 900 followers.

It’s a world she’s already pretty familiar with – Spicer also tweets and curates @ClevelandFlute for the Greater Cleveland Flute Society.

You could say music always has been a part of her family – her father was a newspaper publisher by day and a jazz player by night.

Cleveland features an impressive music scene with its Institute of Music, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Conservatory of Music at Oberlin College.

Spicer said she prefers to play with small groups. That’s why she joined the flute society.

“The trick is to play with people who are better than you,” she said. “You learn so much just paying attention with whom you’re playing.”

Cathy's venerable feline, Sid.

Cathy’s venerable feline, Sid.

When she puts down her flute, Spicer loves to cook. But she admits she’s not a great baker, which “requires a lot of precision.” She also has a 20-year-old cat named Sidney.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

Inside PR Newswire: Meet Operations Manager Andrew Woodall

Andrew Woodall is one of PR Newswire's operations managers, and is also one of the company's social media advocates.

Andrew Woodall is one of PR Newswire’s operations managers, and is also one of the company’s social media advocates.

When folks travel, they come back with some great stories.

Andrew Woodall loved everything about Rome. He majored in ancient history and especially loved studying ancient Romans at the University of Nottingham.

But on the two occasions he visited that beautiful city, he lost his wallet. It’s literally the only place his wallet has ever gone missing.

“I’m not going to hold it against Rome,” says Woodall, 32. “I will go back. It’s a great place.”

Woodall is the operations manager within the editorial department of PR Newswire Europe. It’s a job he’s held for nearly three years.

He also recently took over the Multimedia News Release team in London. So he’ll be in charge of the team, helping clients to build multimedia into their news releases.

“It’s an honor to take over that,” he said. “It’s going to be an exciting year.”

The PR Newswire Europe office, which is based in London, covers a huge territory that also includes India, Dubai, and the Middle East.

It means the London office starts pretty early to tackle releases from clients in India. Then it’s the Dubai office that’s next to get cranking.

From there, Europe wakes up hour by hour and client news releases come from all over – Germany, France, Sweden, and Russia, to name a few.

The work remains steady – reading through copy, proofreading, handling translations, and dealing with affiliates from all over the world every day.

Recently, the London office began a new service that involves writing press releases. Clients discuss their goals and what they would like to achieve, a release is written by the editorial team in London, and it’s send to the client for approval.

Woodall recently wrote a release about Crossfire Hurricane – a new film about the Rolling Stones that premiered at the London Film Festival. This new offering comes easily to Woodall, who has a freelance and journalism background.

Woodall also works as a social media intern on the PR Newswire LinkedIn page with PRN vice president of social media Sarah Skerik. He also helps curate the PRN Europe Sports and Policy Twitter feeds @prnesports and @prnepolicy.

Away from the office, Woodall remains plugged into social media.

He writes about history and cultural pursuits on his personal blog, All the Days and Nights. You also can find him tweeting @thehistorygeeks, a popular spot that’s already garnered 700 followers. There, you can find a short description of what to expect: “Mostly history, some football and some nonsense.”

“I started on Twitter as myself and had about 24 followers,” Woodall said. “But once I started to focus on history, all of a sudden I met all these fantastic people and was winning prizes and joining clubs. It’s been great.”

Woodall also remains busy at home. He and his wife, Clare, a history teacher, just purchased a 1930s fixer-upper outside London.

andrewhiddenwineA recent blog post revealed the Woodalls discovered 38 bottles of homemade wine stored in specially-constructed mini cellar.

“Apple, blackberry, elderflower, all of the great fruits associated with producing outstanding Hertfordshire wine, are represented, ranging from 1977 to 1990. Yes, I tried some. Not to my taste, really. I’m more of a grape man, and I prefer my wine not to gloop during the decanting process,” he wrote.

Woodall says he knows the house eventually will be beautiful. Right now, he admits, it’s a lot of work.

andrewgarden“This is the first time ever that I’ve had my own garden,” Woodall said. “I’m trying to become a gardener. We managed to grow potatoes and French beans. Maybe we’ll grow some more and be a bit more successful next year.”

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

Inside PR Newswire: Meet Customer Content Specialist Jordana Gailard

You might assume a foodie’s favorite food would be something fancy. Not so much with Jordana Gailard. She’s a steak-and-potatoes kind of girl.  In fact, if you were to try to commandeer her grill, she’ll let you know the error of your ways.

“I grill my own steaks for lunch,” the 26-year-old Albuquerque native says proudly. “When a guy thinks he’s going to take over the grill, he’s completely wrong. Not in this house.”

For PR Newswire, Gailard wears many hats. She tweets and pins, assists customers who call in, stages and moves news releases along, and serves as the charitable giving rep for the Albuquerque office.

Gailard is one of the voices behind @PRNFood. And if you’ve ever called the PR Newswire main support line from prnewswire.com, you may have spoken with Gailard directly.

On a busy day, Gailard can field up to 40 calls.

It’s not just her job that keeps Jordi on her toes. She’s also an avid runner.

“My job keeps me on my toes,” Gailard said. “It’s awesome when you get a prospect client who’s excited to get a person on the line instead of a robot. Any and every question comes into that line. We have a great support staff of content specialists here.”

The variety of questions allows Gailard to be knowledgeable in almost every aspect of the company. She’s always working with different clients and people within PR Newswire to get their questions answered. The work is far from mundane, she said.

Lately, a lot of clients are asking about social media, a subject Gailard is especially passionate about.

“I like talking with clients about how social media affects content and their releases,” she said. “Bringing them toward the light in terms of social media is pretty awesome.”

Gailard graduated a double major – public relations and psychology – from the University of New Mexico in 2010. She’s been with PR Newswire ever since.

If you’ve ever visited @PRNFood on Twitter or Pinterest, you may have seen Gailard’s thoughts on successful and not-so-successful recipes. She also can be found chatting with other foodies on Twitter at noon EST on Wednesdays under #hgeats.

Most recently, Gailard tested a chili recipe from Weight Watchers. It was supposed to take only 15 minutes, but Gailard deviated from the original vegetarian recipe and added ground turkey. She concedes the recipe likely would’ve only taken 15 minutes if she’d prepared it as it was written.

“I’m a big advocate for testing out strange recipes, so our followers can look forward to that,” she said. “And if you aren’t following @PRNFood, you should! Who doesn’t love food?”

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

Inside PR Newswire: Account Manager Natalie Bering

Natalie Bering doesn’t remember the first picture she ever took, but she knows when she fell in love with photography.

It was her fourth grade field trip to Washington, DC. She took loads of pictures with her new disc camera and not a single shot turned out.

But that’s all it took.

“I love capturing the moment and shooting lifestyle and sports,” says Bering, account manager with PR Newswire. “These days I shoot a lot of pictures of my own kids and things they’re involved with.”

In college, Bering studied photography and graphic design at Oregon State University. Today, she keeps a photography site called Speed of Light Photography.

Bering grew up in San Diego and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s been with PR Newswire for more than three years, supporting clients in their communications.

Most of her clients are located in Silicon Valley.

“We give them the tools to make sure their communications are as effective as possible,” Bering said. “My passion for my job comes from two major places. One is the ability to support my clients and help them try new and different ways to get their message out there, like last week when we supplied the platform for my client Trend Micro to do a live virtual press conference. Secondly, I like the opportunity to geek out about social media, content marketing, and SEO. My Twitter feed is full of my constant scouring of blogs and conferences.”

Bering’s clients include Facebook, Palo Alto Networks, Super Micro, Marvel Semiconductor, Netgear, Autonomy, and SunPower.

Chris Melching, a close friend and executive communications coach with Center Stage Group, says Bering has a contagious spirit.

“Natalie has a passion for life, and she takes a lot of risks,” Melching said. “She’s very bold with her ideas. People want to be with her; they want to work with her. Natalie is someone who I will follow her entire life. It’s so fun to watch her career evolve. I know she’s going places.”

The two go way back to when Melching was Bering’s yearbook teacher in the 7th grade.

To this day, Bering considers Melching one of her most influential advisors and the person who really helped her sales career.

There’s no such thing as an average work day for Bering. She said her goal is to really be an extension of a client’s team.

“When they’re at a crossroads, I want them to feel like they can pick up the phone and call me,” she said.

Personally, Bering is celebrating a major milestone this year.

She hit 10 years of remission from AML, a type of Leukemia.

“I was told I may not make it to 25 and that I would never have kids,” she said. “Now I am 35 with two amazing little people.”

Bering’s daughter is 6 and her son is almost 4. She also has a 12-year-old stepdaughter. Her husband is an elementary school principal.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

Inside PR Newswire: Meet the Director of Multimedia Engagement for MultiVu

Tom Miale – multimedia guru and king of ‘cue.

To some, the idea of walking away from email, Twitter, and Facebook for an hour seems impossible. But Tom Miale looks forward to unplugging for a bit each day. He’s not doing mantras or meditating. Miale spends that hour doing research.

“I try to take an hour where I’m not distracted by email and social media,” said

Tom and his son (and fishing buddy) Nate.

the director of multimedia engagement for MultiVu. “I actively research new technologies, and I’m looking for ideas and products to help get our clients’ messages out there. Technology is changing our industry, and you have to be on top of it.”

Tom and his new daughter, Ellie.

Miale is an entrepreneur. He helped start up two webcasting companies right out of college.  It began simply enough: Miale saved his money and bought a computer. He’d always wanted to be a filmmaker, telling visual stories and finding the balance between audio, video and technology.

The moment he figured out that you could do it on a computer, “the video geek was born,” he said. Miale was immersed in the webcasting industry for a decade before joining PR Newswire in Aug. 2006.

Today, as the director of multimedia engagement for MultiVu, PR Newswire’s broadcast and multimedia division, Miale handles multimedia distribution. He was the creator of the Blogger Media Tour, which takes PR Newswire’s satellite media tour product and tailors it to bloggers.

Essentially, this allows a client’s spokesperson to be available to bloggers for live interviews. Some of the more popular PR Newswire multimedia engagement products include the multi-media news release and the ARC, an easily shareable and distributable engagement platform that functions like a container holding clients’ multiple multimedia assets, including video, audio, PDFs, and infographics.

Miale now is concentrating on working social distribution into all PR Newswire products.

“We’re making sure our clients’ content is distributed out to as many social channels as we possibly can,” he said. “In this role, I’ve become sort of the multimedia storytelling evangelist for MultiVu.”

This has led to many speaking engagements about multimedia – something that has surprised Miale, who never imagined himself a public speaker.

“I enjoy speaking at conferences,” he said. “I like being a teacher to the brand world. I wrote a proposal that got accepted with some colleagues that got into last year’s SXSW. This is a big deal for someone who never thought they would be a public speaker.”

While Miale likes being behind the camera, he’s also become quite comfortable in front of it.  In fact, you might know him as half of the TnT team, the “Tom and Tom” videos that are produced by PR Newswire. For the last couple of years, Miale has teamed up with PR Newswire’s blogger relations manager, Thomas Hynes, on a bunch of videos that began at SXSW.  The to collaborate on other videos throughout the year, too.

When he’s not digging into the latest technology, the New Yorker writes a food blog called I’m Not a Foodie.  Miale also stays busy with his family. All reside in and around Long Island, and Miale admits he “gets the shakes” if he leaves New York too long. He currently resides in Queens with his wife and two young children, who are almost 1 year and almost 3 years. They also have a dog, Oakley, who’s almost 4.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.

Inside PR Newswire: Sara Campbell, Senior Audience Researcher

Welcome to Inside PR Newswire, a series that provides a special look into the people that make up PR Newswire. We’ll share their stories about what they do, how they arrived at PR Newswire, and a little about themselves as individuals when they’re not at work.

Sara Campbell is a senior audience researcher at PR Newswire. So Sara, tell us — what do you do?

As a senior audience researcher, I am responsible for updating media contacts for the New York metro region. I have also taken the lead training several employees during their transition from Targeting Services to the Audience Research team. Our Global Media Database has over 500,000 global media contacts.

How did you end up at PR Newswire?

In 2008, I met PR Newswire’s account manager Kelly Fuller at the PRSA Northeast District Conference in Rochester, N.Y., while I was working at a PR agency. In January 2009, I wanted to move down to the New York area to continue my career growth, and I reached out to Kelly for help. She told me about the Audience Researcher position at PR Newswire and I applied. I got the job offer and moved down to Hoboken one week later so I could commute to PR Newswire’s Jersey City office. Kelly even helped me move, and we continue to be great friends to this day.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I am constantly juggling different tasks. I’m responsible for updating any and all media changes in the New York metro region, and then I tweet these updates on our Twitter page (@PRNmedia).

My position also includes handling client projects and requests. Our team is currently helping clients transition to PR Newswire’s new Agility platform, which allows our clients to target, monitor and engage with traditional and social media from one platform.

Additionally, I write for the Audience Research group’s monthly newsletter for clients, MEDIAware; and I occasionally assist our MultiVu Media Relations team with writing national alerts for satellite and radio media tours.

How large is your team?

The Audience Research team has 16 researchers based in the U.S., with an additional 12 researchers based in Mexico. We also have a team of researchers abroad. The U.S. and Mexico teams are led by Director of Data Services Jeff Veasey.

What has changed since you started working at PR Newswire? What’s stayed the same?

One of the biggest changes I continue to see is how journalists and PR professionals are using social media to engage with one another more. Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites are continuing to grow. Journalists and PR professionals are using these platforms to communicate, share stories and pitch ideas. As a media researcher, I try to collect as much data from these social networks to help our clients better connect with the media. We also use social media to strengthen our relationships with clients and journalists directly.

The one thing that continues to stay the same is the way our Media Research team collaborates to complete tasks and ensure that we are providing the best service to clients.

What’s the most fun part?

The most fun part of my job is the colleagues that I work with. We have great team chemistry and it is a pleasure to work with all of them. We work cohesively to complete projects and update our data, ensuring that our clients are receiving the most accurate information. Our team has seasoned audience researchers with many years of experience at PR Newswire; they continue to inspire and motivate me to grow professionally.

What do you do when you are not working?

When I am not working, I am most likely dancing! I have been a dancer since age 3 and it is a true passion of mine. I just finished two years as an NFL cheerleader — it was the most incredible experience! I felt so fortunate to have the opportunity to dance on Sundays on the sidelines and do charity events in the community. I hope to be able to continue to perform or take dance classes.

I also enjoy traveling. My sister and I traveled to London and Paris last April. The picture above is me in front of Victoria Palace at Piccadilly Circus in London, before seeing the musical “Billy Elliot.” I hope to continue to travel the world and see new places.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I hope I’ll have continued to grow my career in the communications/media industry. I also hope I’ll be sharing my love of dance by either teaching or coaching.
Written by Grace Lavigne, senior editor of ProfNet, a PR Newswire service that helps journalists connect with expert sources. To read more from Grace, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.

Inside PRN: Editor by day; race driver by night

When Hurd reviews vehicles for Speed:Sport:Life, he occasionally gets to drive them on local tracks to get a better feel for their performance. Here, he’s driving a 2011 Lexus IS F at Summit Point Motorsports Park’s Shenandoah Circuit. Photo credit: Chase Adams

(This year, we’re highlighting some of the folks who keep PR Newswire operating smoothly. Meet Byron Hurd, a senior customer content specialist at PR Newswire, with a serious penchant for speed.)

Most people prefer driving either a stick-shift or an automatic.  PR Newswire’s Byron Hurd doesn’t much care. It just has to drive well.

Hurd, a senior customer content specialist at PR Newswire, is a bit of a car addict.  The obsession began innocently enough – Matchbox and Hot Wheels and by his teens, he toted the occasional car mag on long road trips to visit family in Texas.  Today, he owns four cars — a 2008 Mazda Speed 3, 1997 Jeep Wrangler, and two Mazda Miatas (1990 and 1994 – one is a parts car and doesn’t run). They all neatly fit into his driveway in Annapolis, Md.

In addition to driving cars on closed race courses, Hurd also participates in auto-cross events. Auto-crosses are held in parking lots on courses delineated by parking cones, and drivers try to beat times set by others in vehicles of similar performance. It’s not just for fun; auto-cross teaches drivers a lot about emergency vehicle control and allows them to explore the limits of their cars in a safe and fun, competitive environment.

Hurd also blogs for Speed:Sport:Life. And he occasionally spends weekends racing cars at the track.

“Driving for the first time on a racetrack is pretty intense,” said Hurd, 27. “But it’s the best rollercoaster ride you could ever take.”

Hurd got his blogging start with Speed:Sport:Life through a connection he made as a member of an online Volkswagen enthusiast group. The guy also happened to blog and was a racing driver.  They went out to the Virginia International Raceway. The rest is history – Hurd was invited to write for the blog.

When he’s not driving cars provided by manufacturers, Hurd tracks his personal vehicles. Here, he drives his 2008 Mazda Speed3 at Mid-Ohio Raceway, one of the nation’s premiere sports car and open-wheel racing venues. Photo credit: Dave Everest

That was a few years ago.

Hurd’s favorite thing about writing for Speed:Sport:Life is the ability to experience many different cars.  “They give me a car for a week and sometimes I get to commute in them and take them on racetracks. You can’t get that from a test drive,” Hurd said. “We’re just a few friends who like to write about cars. Something will occur to me about a car I drove recently, and I’ll sit down and write.”

Hurd has been on a racetrack dozens of times.  It’s usually an all-weekend situation, and he meets up with others from racing organizations and clubs. The groups usually are broken down according to beginners and advanced driving groups. (Beginners, for example, must drive with instructors and are only permitted to pass drivers in certain areas.)

Hurd’s longtime girlfriend Nicole – who also comes from a car family – is very understanding about his passion. “Her one rule is that we can’t have more than one car that doesn’t run so we don’t get overwhelmed,” Hurd said. “I don’t think I could get by with owning one car. The monotony would drive me crazy.”

Hurd’s next track weekend is this month in Summit Point, WVa.

There, he plans to drive a new Porsche 911. He also anticipates more track weekends in his future because the season for car racing is heating up in the Mid-Atlantic. (Most car clubs will get together between now and October.)

“Driving” press release distribution

When Hurd isn’t living and breathing his vehicular hobby, he splits his work day within the DC office of PR Newswire doing a variety of things. He spends half of his day proofing press release copy, reading and checking for typos. Hurd then puts the release into the system and spends the rest of the day talking with PR Newswire clients, confirming press releases, troubleshooting, and assisting with customer service.

He also curates the @PRNauto presence on Twitter for PR Newswire, sharing  auto and motorsports news and press releases from around the web.

Christine Cube is a media relations manager for PR Newswire and freelance writer. You can follow her @cpcube.