“Influencers Who Inspire” – Interview with Jessica Bartlett, Boston Business Journal

We continue our “Influencers Who Inspire” series with Jessica Bartlett, Health Care Reporter for Boston Business Journal. Jessica shares what types of stories she is on the lookout for, her favorite book and more.



Tell us a little bit about your role at BBJ?

I’m the health care reporter at the Boston Business Journal, which has me covering everything from hospitals to digital health companies to promising research to policy makers to insurers to startups to the occasional biotech and pharmaceutical story. We have digital newsletters we put out throughout the weekday and a weekly print product as well, so my time is split writing content for these products.

You are very passionate about writing and publishing. What is your favorite book or author?

My favorite book is East of Eden by John Steinbeck. The writing is beautiful, and the character development is unlike anything else I’ve ever read. It is a talent to write characters a reader can hate but still understand.

As a child, what did you envision yourself doing? Favorite subject in school?

As a child, I wanted to be on broadway! It was a career I had in my mind through high school, with decades of dance lessons and dozens of plays under my belt. But I wanted a job that would give me health insurance (irony, now that I cover health care), and the reality of always looking for work seemed overly stressful. I’ve always loved to write, and English was always my favorite subject in school. I decided journalism was the best way to do something artistic while still making a living, and came out of picking classes during orientation at the University of Vermont and declared to my mother that I’d be a journalist.

How did your education prepare you for your role today as a journalist?

My preparation for journalism truly happened outside the classroom — I worked for the school newspaper at the University of Vermont and learned how to write for a newspaper there. During an internship at the Patriot Ledger, I learned what professional newspaper writing should look like and be. I don’t have a degree in journalism (I majored in English and Studio Art with a focus in photography), but my education offered me a love of writing and reading, and a general curiosity about a variety of subjects — perhaps the most helpful part of my education. As a journalist, you never know what you’ll be covering, and curiosity and a desire to learn has always been my biggest asset.

As managing editor of your collegiate newspaper, what was the most interesting part of your role? Most challenging?

The most interesting part of being managing editor was being able to have a broader view of what we were doing as a paper, and all the people who worked within it. I read every article before it went to print, had meetings with editors to come up with ways they could better manage their writing staff — it afforded me a great view of a paper’s entire operations, and allowed me to have a more meaningful impact. Most challenging was perhaps running a newspaper filled with my peers, none of whom were paid to be there. But I learned a lot about leadership and people, that you have to manage personalities, hold people to high standards, but appreciate that they showed up.

As a reporter covering healthcare, what types of stories are you always on the look out for?

I’m looking for health stories that haven’t already been covered, and are things people will want to read — whether it’s why Medicaid insurers are losing millions, a breakthrough diabetes treatment or the new app that could change how people interact with their health. Because of our readership, I’m also looking for news that has a direct tie to Massachusetts and has a tie to business, even if it’s that the discovery could one day lead to an industry partnership or drug.

Do you feel PR folks are helpful and if so, in what way?

A helpful PR person is like a waiter, in that he or she is friendly, brings me what I ask for in a timely manner, recommends things I might truly like and is cognizant of my time. An unhelpful PR person is like a bouncer, in that he or she stands between me and what I’m looking for, bars me access to exciting things, and makes me jump through lengthy and exhausting hoops to gain entry. I have many valuable relationships with PR people that I talk to frequently, I also receive many pitches from others who seem to be pushing me content from a client, rather than thinking through news I might be interested in receiving. It truly is a mix.

What is next for you for the remainder of 2015?

The Boston Business Journal has some exciting events to look forward to, including our 40 Under 40 event and Power 50. I’m also working on a number of exciting stories that I’m eager to share with readers. On a more personal note, I’m getting married in September!

Persuasive Picks – Week of August 24, 2015

Calculated PR Move or Embarrassing Blunder? PR Lessons Gleaned From Tinder’s Epic 30-Tweet Meltdown“, authored by Huffington Post contributor, Eric Yaverbaum, covers the recent Tinder meltdown, which was reported as being not only odd and confusing, but cringeworthy. Washington Post writer, Tim Carman, writes about the “MCWhopper” PR stunt by Burger King. In this article called “Why Burger King’s PR stunt fell as flat as a patty on a griddle”, Carman points out why this poorly planned PR scheme fell short of expectations. Joseph Plambeck, writer for New York Times Bits, pens a piece on the popular topic of social media. This Daily Report called “The Ugly and Antisocial Side of Social Media” brings up the recent tragedy involving the man who is thought to have shot two journalists in Virginia and turned to Twitter and Facebook to show a video of the shooting. Another example of how powerful social media is.

Persuasive Picks – Week of August 17, 2015

Is Marketing on Twitter Worth the Investment”, authored by Huffington Post contributor, Jayson DeMers, discusses the advantages and disadvantages of using Twitter, from hashtags to personalization. DeMers reminds us that Twitter is a constantly evolving platform, and it has many new functionalities in the works.


The popular topic of consumer behavior is covered in a MarketingProfs article called “Harness the Power of Personas for Social Media Marketing”. This article, authored by Keith Quesenberry, offers insight on creating personas to increase the relevancy of your social media marketing methods.

Forbes contributor, Cheryl Conner, talks about PR mistakes and successes in an article called “When PR Goes Really Right (Or Dead Wrong)”. She offers examples of entrepreneurs who took a chance on a unique PR strategy and it either bombed or created a real buzz.

Persuasive Picks – Week of August 10, 2015

7 Social Media Platforms That Could Explode Before 2016”, authored by Forbes contributor, Jayson DeMers, offers insight on the upcoming platforms that social media professionals should expect this year. SlideShare and Shots are on the list as well as social shopping app, Wanelo.


Kimberlee Morrison, contributor to AdWeek’s SocialTimes, pens an article on the value of social media presence for consumers. Her article called “Consumers Value Social Media Presence — But Some Small Businesses Aren’t Buying In” reports on data from Enplug that shows that small business owners don’t think social media is a good value for their business. The results show that small business owners aren’t quite aware of the weight consumers give to social media content. “How Do you Create a Strong Global Marketing Campaign?” covers the timely topic of personalizing your global campaign. This article, authored by Courtney Huber, recommends that companies customize each campaign based the country and language.

Persuasive Picks – Week of August 3, 2015

“Less Than 10% Of Companies Are Using Marketing Automation, Here’s Why”, authored by Forbes contributor, Mike Templeman, discusses the important topic of marketing automation. This technology has been around for half a decade, but companies aren’t utilizing it due to an upfront time consuming implementation process.


Entrepreneur contributor, Rocco Baldassarre, reports on 5 online marketing tips for entrepreneurs. These tips include social media, testing new advertising channels, upselling and more. The article called “5 Online Marketing Basics Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know” also recommends utilizing tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook advertising.


Burson-Marsteller tops the list of PR firms in PRNewser’s “PR Agency Report Card (Part 1)”. This annual ranking of PR firms highlights the champions of communications in the PR world.