I interviewed Dan Sewell this morning, Cincinnati correspondent for The Associated Press. It’s a rare opportunity to have 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to chat with a reporter. Relationships are key to success in the profession, but they’re harder than ever to build with reporters’ time so stretched. As Dan said, it’s not like the old days when we could go and sit and have lunch for 30 minutes. But since Dan will be a panelist at the Cincinnati PRSA Media Day event on Thursday, October 18 and I’m on the Media Day planning committee, I lucked out.
In addition to learning that Dan got a haircut yesterday, he takes a good selfie and he sees the New York Times and Washington Post as great examples of newspapers reenergizing their brands, I also gleaned these useful nuggets for those of us in the business of working with reporters:
Read what they’re reading.
What’s Dan reading today? He wakes up in the morning and reads the AP top stories from his phone. Well, he doesn’t read all of them. He’s like us, but he does scan the headlines and digs in further to ones that catch his eye. He also looks at the top Ohio and Cincinnati stories, checks the Enquirer and the alerts he gets from the local TV stations and Cox News.
What stories caught Dan’s eye today? One was on Facebook. Yes, Dan also scans Facebook in the morning, mainly for news of family and friends. It was an old Politico story a friend had posted on Facebook during a discussion of the CNN performance Dan had watched on television the night before. The headline of the piece read: What happened to Alan Dershowitz?
“If you see a story that’s trying to answer a question that’s already on your mind, that’s one you read,” said Dan.
Talk to people they’d like to talk to.
Dan’s number one interview choice right now would be President Donald Trump. “I’d have to spend a lot of time preparing for that,” Dan quipped. Wouldn’t we all? Turns out Dan and I do have connections in common. Paul Fox, a 30-year veteran in global corporate communications and our Media Day keynote speaker, is a colleague of Dan’s.
“Trust and relationships are very important. Paul and I are great examples of that. We have to be able to talk on background or off-the-record. It takes time to build up trust.”
Think like they think.
For Dan, stories need a wide field of interest. If someone lived in Omaha or London, would they be interested in what is happening in Cincinnati and why? A great example is a story that came out while we were on the phone. Kroger is going to end the use of plastic bags by 2025. Kroger is the largest grocer in the United States.
“Any time you can use a superlative, it resonates outside of Cincinnati,” said Dan.
I have the unique opportunity to interview several of our Media Day panelists ahead of this year’s event. I’ll share some of their most interesting and insightful nuggets over the next few weeks, but better yet, build your own relationships and connections with these same folks by attending Cincinnati PRSA Media Day on Thursday, October 18. Save the date and check out the website for registration details coming soon. It isn’t always easy for reporters to carve out time to just sit and shoot the breeze with us, but that’s precisely what our panelists are doing on Thursday, October 18. We can’t wait to see you there.
About Dan Sewell
Dan Sewell is The Associated Press’ Cincinnati correspondent, covering southwest Ohio and leading a five-person office. Over four decades in the news business, he has been a sports writer, business writer, Caribbean correspondent, Southeast regional reporter, news editor and an assistant chief of bureau for The AP. He also has been a reporter and local news editor for The Cincinnati Enquirer. An Ohio University alum, he is a part-time journalism instructor at Miami University.
I have an appetite for getting things done. As an advertising and corporate communications leader, I am experienced in bringing people, as well as animals, together. I have led cross-departmental teams and developed trusted relationships with C-Suite executives. I have 20 years of public relations and marketing communications experience, including providing traditional, digital and social media services to billion-dollar brands. I don’t believe in lengthy processes or convoluted platforms. I believe in hard work, empathy and love.