“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.

 

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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!

Influencers Who Inspire: Broadcast and Social Media Editor, Lisa van der Pool

This week’s interview in our “Influencers Who Inspire” series is with Lisa van der Pool of the Boston Business Journal.  Lisa has been a Broadcast editor and Reporter at the Boston Business Journal since 2005. At the BBJ she covers advertising, small business, legal services, retail and hospitality; and maintains the newspaper’s Twitter account. She also regularly appears on WBZ-TV Channel 4 discussing the top business stories of the day. Prior to joining the BBJ, Lisa worked at Adweek Magazine for five years, where she covered advertising and PR firms across New England.

 

What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Check my email, and Twitter.

 

What do you love about Boston?

It’s a city with a lot to offer, but it’s also very cozy and accessible.

 

If you could be on a reality TV show, which one would it be and why?

Definitely Top Chef, it’s my favorite show. But first I’d have to learn how to cook.

 

What was it like to work at AdWeek?

Adweek’s a cool trade magazine.The advertising world is a dramatic, exciting industry to write about and I met many fascinating ad execs over the years.

 

What do you think the future of advertising looks like – will we continue to see consumer-contributed/participation?

Every year advertisers get more savvy about taking advantage of social media. And yes, I think smart advertisers know they need to get consumers involved and interact with them directly.

 

What is your favorite ad ever?

Probably Volkswagen’s Pink Moon, back when Arnold Worldwide worked on the account.

 

What are you passionate about? Any hobbies?

I spend as much time as possible with my family, and friends. I also love music and going to the movies.

 

Where did you rescue your cats from and why?

I got them from Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, which has a great adoption center for cats, dogs and other animals. I’m passionate about helping animals, so caring for a pair of cats at home who were found on the streets of Methuen is the least I can do.

 

What’s the last vacation you took?

Scottsdale, Arizona. We just went there to relax and enjoy the scenery.

 

What’s your take on this year’s Super Bowl Ads – which was your favorite, were the ads a win or as snooze this year?

Overall, I was extremely underwhelmed by this year’s Super Bowl commercials. Nothing struck me as all that creative or funny. I liked Chevy’s Apocalypse ad with the Twinkie shout out. My least favorite commercials were the sexist ones: Teleflora, Go Daddy and Fiat. Advertisers need to wake up a bit more and remember that women watch the big game too.

What is next for you in 2012?

I have a few fun vacations planned already. And I’m trying to be better organized!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 05/10/09

This week a few of the PerkettPR staffers step up with their own picks of the week.

With PR on the Rise, Here’s a Refresher Course in the Basics (picked by Lisa Dilg)
Jonah Bloom from AdAge shares this quick PR refresher course for marketers and business owners who still think PR is “dead.”

Have blogs overtaken mainstream media?! (picked by Greg Wind)
This pick is actually a set of links to the New York Times “Timeswire” site and the recently re-vamped Newsweek site. Both mainstream media outlets have taken on a very “blog-ish” looking format, which could very well be the one change that these sources need to make the transition complete.

To tweet or not to tweet? For execs, that is the question (picked by Johanna Cappello)
Is Twitter for you? It seems executives fall on both sides of the fence and some are even perched at the top. This Boston Business Journal post profiles several Beantown area execs and their take on the subject.

Twitter Feels the Fail for Changing Its Feed (picked by Michelle Stevens van Kriedt)
There was certainly no shortage of blog posts on Twitter’s recent decision to change its “@reply” functionality. The sudden change brought an onslaught of Tweets and posts that made it the “meme” of the week. Here’s NPR‘s take on the situation.

Introducing the ReadWriteWeb Guide to Online Community Management (picked by Jeff Glasson)
ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick announces their first premium report for businesses (written by Kirkpatrick and a team of four). Dive into the post to see what the report offers. At $299, it seems like a great deal when compared to other sources of reports that we’ve seen on the subject.

From Fast Company to Boston Business Journal to Mass High Tech to… Peru? “Journalists Are People Too” Continues with Doug Banks

Doug Banks has seen his fair share of PR pitches – having worked at various tech publications over the years. In our continuing effort to help PR executives and journalists better understand each other, we interviewed Doug recently. From cold-weather camping with his children, to keeping the newsroom connected with Mass High Tech’s readers, Doug knows how to work hard, play hard and keep his priorities in check.

PPR: You are the Editor for Mass High Tech; how long have you been doing that and what do you find most fascinating about New England’s high tech industry?

I’ve been editor since 2005, when I came over from our sister paper, the Boston Business Journal. I started reporting in 1992, but I’ve been doing business journalism in Boston since 1998, when I joined the BBJ. I left there to go to Fast Company magazine from 2000-2001, where I got to see the highest heights of the tech industry and then one of the lowest lows (assuming we’re not at the lowest low right now). The most fascinating thing about New England’s high tech industry? Probably its ability to change, on the fly, without much notice. In barely four years, the complexion of this region’s economy has undergone seriously rapid transformation.

PPR: With all the chatter about traditional media and the PR industry dying, what are you guys doing to stay relevant, informed and connected at Mass High Tech?

Our readership is geographically and demographically niche, so we’ve been spared from some of the carnage going on nationally in journalism. But a bigger reason, I think, for our ability to not be dying, and to stay relevant, is our move last year to redesign our web site, add new industry-specific email newsletters and news digests, and get more active in the places our readers are hanging out and looking for their news. And that’s why you’ll find a better collection of RSS feeds, you’ll find us with a very active Twitter presence, and (at long last) finishing up a Facebook presence. We’re also doing more targeted things, such as launching new Linked In groups specifically for All-Stars and Women to Watch honorees to help them network with one another better.

Ultimately, it’s all about staying connected to our readers, knowing where they are and what they’re doing and reporting it in as many forms as necessary. And we’re the first to admit that we have a lot more to do.

PPR: What’s it like these days in the newsroom? What’s the most impactful change that you’ve experienced in your industry/job over the last five years?

It’s busier than ever. All newsrooms, not just ours, are so multimedia now. If you asked me 10 years ago, or even five years ago, how many reporters would have to tote video cameras around to capture video interviews while they’re doing interviews for the print edition and then for the web site, I would have thought you were crazy. Now we’re asking reporters to file information for creating online maps, mashups; we’re asking them to not only shoot video, but help edit it; we’re asking them to promote their stories on the social networks. I mean, they’re doing it all — it’s definitely different. And I will say this — it’s never boring.

PPR: It’s just warming up – what did you do to keep yourself entertained during New England’s long winter?

I love camping and I don’t let the cold stop me and my kids from enjoying the outdoors. My daughter and I love playing in the backyard snow, and my son and I recently went to Maine for an overnight camping trip. We also spent an outdoor activity day in Gardner and in January I organized an indoor overnight as part of a church-based scouting program I’m involved in. So entertainment, when you have kids, is never difficult.

PPR: Name the most interesting place you’ve ever visited.

Tough one. Most recently? Probably Bryce Canyon in Utah, in 2007. My daughter and son, 5 & 7 at the time, hiked the entire canyon, which is practically 8,000 feet above sea level. They’re hardcore.

PPR: TV, Internet or books?

I’m 30/30/30. Books in the morning when I first get up, Internet all day, TV at night to wind down.

PPR: Did you always want to be in journalism? If you weren’t an Editor, what would you be?

I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, but found that I was pretty good at digging up news, so I ended up as a reporter. And I still get to teach — I’ve been an adjunct at Emerson for a few years now and BU before that, as well as a number of community colleges when I first moved to Boston. If I weren’t an editor, I’d probably be a teacher of some kind.

PPR: What’s your favorite type of food?

Lebanese. My wife’s cooking, in particular.

PPR: What would we find on your iPod?

Podcasts? Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese language lessons; Music? R&B, soul and contemporary gospel. But mixed in with the Stevie Wonder and John Legend is some Pixies, early REM, Van Halen and U2. My tastes are eclectic.

PPR: What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?

This July, I’m going to Peru, up the Amazon River, with a team of people to build a school/church building for a couple of local villages there. I haven’t done it yet, so it doesn’t really answer the question, but judging from how far remote we may be going, it’s the only thing I can think of at the moment.

PPR: What three words would other people would use to describe you?

Most people I know are too wordy to use just three words. I would hope they would use words like “authentic.”

PPR: What’s one thing that would surprise people about you?

For people who only know me through work? Probably my commitment to putting family and faith first. Work is important, but it doesn’t come close to those two things.