Journalists are People Too – a Q&A with Jennifer Leggio of ZDNet

Yesterday Michael Arrington of TechCrunch created a big amount of buzz – as he has been know to do – with an angry blog post about the PR industry and its failure to do right by embargoes. This blog post is not about that – but it is our first in a series that we’ve been wanting to start, focused on personal Q&As with journalists, bloggers and industry analysts.

You see, there continues to be quite a snarky relationship between the PR world and the world of journalism. There are valid gripes on both sides but one that continues to be mentioned by journalists is that most PR folks don’t build relationships correctly. So this Q&A series is based on getting to know the journalists as the humans they are. No hidden agendas – just good, clean fun.

Thankfully, Jennifer Leggio, a blogger for ZDNet, agreed to be our first interview. You’ll learn things here that might surprise you or give you pause (favorite vacation spot – Long Island?!) but that will definitely make you laugh.

But we can’t guarantee it will help your pitching.

(Oh – and if you are a journalist or blogger that is game to play along and be interviewed, please let us know!)

PPR: You have  multiple roles listed on your Twitter bio – for ZDNet and Fortinet – what do  you do for each and how do you balance it all?

JL: For ZDNet, I write about what I call “social business” — everything from  enterprise 2.0 technology to marketing-focused social media issues. For Fortinet, my official title is director of strategic communications, which  includes managing global industry analyst relations, digital media, security research communications and community engagement. I’m a pragmatist when it comes to balance. My role at Fortinet is always my first and foremost  priority. It’s not only my day job, but I’m passionate about network security  and I take a great amount of pride in my company’s many wins. Which leaves my ZDNet work largely to my personal time and I am happy to make the sacrifice because it’s such a tremendous opportunity. I’m also a heck of  a multi-tasker.

PPR: How  did you become a blogger?

JL: Ironically, I started microblogging before I began blogging. I was on Twitter and thought,  “I should get one of those blog things.” I launched up my Mediaphyter blog and really started digging into social media trends, security and social media, and then launched the  Security Twits, a community of security professionals on Twitter. After that everything is a bit of a blur. I met Ryan Naraine, a ZDNet security blogger at SOURCE  Boston earlier this year and we became friends; stayed in contact via Twitter. ZDNet saw a need to bring in content similar to what I write and Ryan patched me through. I should note that this all started only a year ago; just goes to show the speed and impact of social media. Take that, naysayers.

PPR: We  see you love hockey – do you watch, play or both?

JL: Oh goodness, I can’t play hockey! I can’t even ice skate! I’m one of those know-it-all fans who sits in the stands and screams at my team. I am very passionate about it,  however. Until about four years ago I had never been a fan of any sport. A  co-worker at the time dragged me to a San Jose Sharks game and I fell in absolute, unequivocal, irreversible love.

PPR: What’s the  last book that you read?

JL: I just  finished “SocialCorp: Social Media Goes Corporate” by Joel Postman, which I actually got as a prize at a Silicon Valley tweet-up last week after co-winning a karaoke contest. The humiliation was  worth winning this book. It was a fabulous, educational read. On a more personal note, I read the entire “Twilight” saga from Stephenie Meyer in five days over Thanksgiving. I am such a sucker for handsome fictional  vampires. I’ve now moved onto the “Uglies” series from Scott Westerfeld, thanks to a recommendation from Kevin Marks.

PPR: What’s the coolest tech gadget that you own?

JL: OK, don’t  tell the folks over at ZDNet this, but I am not much of a gadget geek. I am a cyber nerd, Internet geek, and enterprise technology fangirl. So I suppose my  coolest tech gadget is my TomTom portable GPS. I am considering buying a Kindle, though. Does  that count?

PPR: If  you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?

JL: I know I am supposed to wax intellectual with this type of question, but I can’t get away from my honest answer. James Spader. I have had a crush on him since I was  about 12 years old. Something about geeky, cocky eccentricity. If I were to  wax intellectual, I would say Bob Woodward. Like many former journalists (I  worked at daily newspapers from 1993-2000), he was the reason I began my news career pursuits in the first place. I’ve had to settle for being his Facebook  friend, along with 3,000 other people. That’s closer than I’ve gotten with Spader.

PPR: How  many hours a day do you spend in front of the computer?

JL: Let’s see, I wake up every morning between 5-6 a.m., wash up, get on the laptop and write my ZDNet blog of the day, check into work email, then take a shower, get  ready, feed the cat and head into the office. I usually work through lunch at my desk and leave between 5-6 p.m. Come home, pet the cat, make or order dinner, then get back online and catch up on email, and begin outlining my blog post for the next morning, plus miscellaneous day job work. I go to bed  about 10-11 p.m. and read until I fall asleep. I’m afraid if I really add up  the hours I’ll cry. Not every day is like this, of course. I do make it out  for social events every now and then. If I am not  asleep.

PPR: What’s your favorite vacation destination?

JL: For the last couple of years, most of my vacations have been spent in beautiful Long Island, New York. Ah, paradise. I had the fortunate experience to discover some unknown family members a couple of years ago and I take every opportunity I can to immerse myself into their culture (“Old World” Italian) and learn as much about my heritage as I can. What’s funny to me is that I find it easier to relax there than say if I were on a beach somewhere, wishing my BlackBerry were nearby. My family’s quality of life and appreciation for quality time is contagious when I’m around it, and I love the disconnection from chaos  that I experience when I am there.

PPR: What do you  do for fun?

JL: See questions #3,  #4 and #8. Other than reading, hockey games and blogging, I play Wii (wait, is  that a tech gadget?), I like to go wander about trails in the Bay Area with  friends, I play every two weeks or so in a No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em poker tourney, I’m a huge music fan and I like to go out and see live shows (mostly of the rock persuasion) and I get my laughs at the Improv. That’s about all I have time for right now. In 2009 I hope to bring back some of my other hobbies. Especially those of the outdoor, active variety.

PPR: What’s the coolest thing that’s come your way as a result of  social media?

JL: Besides this interview? I’m fortunate in that it’s hard to pick just one. My ZDNet blog, for one. I never thought I’d again have a chance to write for a news organization after jumping the fence into marketing eight years ago. Book authorship-lite, is another. Julio  Ojeda-Zapata asked me to write the foreword for his “Twitter Means Business” book, and I’m currently writing a chapter for Tracy Tuten’s “Enterprise 2.0″ book series due out in 2009. Top that all off with the icing of fabulously talented new friends I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I shudder to think where I’d be without social media. Is that sad? Nah. I think it’s spectacular.

PerkettPR TechCrunch Party Report; July 27, 2007 at August Capital

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It was a wild and wonderful time at the TechCrunch Party 9 on Friday. Thanks to the gorgeous hot weather in the early hours of the party, the PerkettPR-sponsored margarita booth had a continual flow of Silicon Valley’s “hottest” lining up to get some relief with our frosty beverages. Here’s a recap of our collective experience at the event:

Partypeople_6TechCrunch parties certainly haven’t lost any steam since last year. We pinched hit in the registration area for a good portion of the event, so we were able to really get an understanding for just how many people marched through the door (we’re guessing it was over 800). We caught up with one of the most famous invited guests, Sarah Meyers, before the party, (who was kicked out at last years event for sneaking in un-invited and filming the event). She filled us in on how although she had been kicked out last year, she was personally invited to the party by Mike Arrington this year to capture a new and improved video blog from the event. Check out her very entertaining blog post with the famous video from last year, and her much improved (though definitely not as funny), video interviews from this year’s event.

The annual TechCrunch Silicon Valley gathering is a great opportunity for our clients to get some exposure with all the right VCs and influencers in the valley, and also a great place for the PPR team to meet and talk with the many reporters and bloggers we usually only communicate with over email or on rushed phone conversations. WiredlanehartwellEric Auchard of Reuters was nice enough to take the time to speak to several PPR team members. He gave us the lowdown on what he thinks is hot right now in the tech world, but we won’t tell you, because you will all inundate him with even more pitches J. It was great to chat with Nick Gonzalez, Duncan Riley and Andrew Philips of TechCrunch. We had never met Duncan in person before, so he gave us a little history of himself and told us a little more about what it’s like to write for one of the world’s hottest tech blogs. (Don’t worry Duncan, we won’t share your secrets.) Dan Farber of ZDNet was on hand with his camera, taking some great shots of the party, and Dean Takahashi seemed to be bombarded with pitches from start-ups looking for local ink. The Scobleizer, Robert Scoble, was there with his son and posting TwitterGrams live from the party.

Several current and former clients of ours enjoyed mingling among the massive turnout out of SV types, and we were happy to spend some quality time catching up with colleagues past and present. It was great to see Pradeep Javangula, CTO of Tumri, taking in the chaos of the party and talking up Tumri’s most recent news coverage from BusinessWeek while Reena Jadhav of Conduit, was working the crowd with her tireless enthusiasm, educating the masses on the power of Conduit’s community toolbars. We also spent some time catching up with Jim Mansfield, Bipin Parmar and Ram Ramkumar from our favorite ringtone creation destination, Phonezoo. Phonezoo has been making waves recently with 1.2 million users and they continue to prove that creating and sharing personalized ringtones is always going to be hot! We also met up with former colleague, Ben Heskett, and caught up on his latest endeavor at Kiptronic. Benheskettcmajor
Parker Trewin of Genius was there too. In between pitches, Parker had a great time sneaking up on partygoers and labeling them with Genius stickers. We’re happy to see their efforts at the event led to a nice mention in Dean Takahashi’s blog post.

We met several entrepreneurs and executives including folks from the usual suspects, like Google and Ask.com as well as many startups looking for PR advice. We’re hoping to get a chance to work with them when they’re ready and so we won’t name them all here for obvious reasons. However, folks like Matt Maroon of BlueFrog Gaming was one of the more colorful characters to approach us – a former poker champion turned Internet entrepreneur. How cool is that? Fantasy Sports 2.0 was one of many companies in attendance looking to capitalize on the popularity of social networking – this time for fantasy sports fans. And at the end of the evening we had fun with Alex Tew, creator of the Million Dollar Homepage. He was a good sport about our ribbing on his “members only” jacket and while young, was quite humble and a great sport.

We absolutely have to shout out to the TC interns Mark and Andrew. They were great guys and clearly have good heads on their shoulders – check out their posts on the site covering everything from the iPhone to social networking. In addition, the gracious Mark Hendrickson took us to the local grocery store to get emergency water for the margarita machines when we arrived. And he helped us haul 30 or so gallons of it up to our booth. Thank you so much!

Chrismikeheather_3 Last, but not least, Mike Arrington. He was in great form, chatting with anyone and everyone that wanted his ear, posing for photographs and, in general, taking his growing Internet celebrity status in stride. He’s got to be a little overwhelmed (and perhaps slightly annoyed) with the sheer volume of attention he received, but he didn’t let it show. Maybe it’s due in part to the fact that he now has TechCrunch CEO, Heather Harde, working the business side of things. Heather not only helped set everything in motion before the party, but took the helm and addressed the masses at the end of the event. We look forward to hearing more from her in the future.

See Mike’s TechCrunch event recap post for more details and be sure to check out his pictures on Flickr. There are also several other good event summaries on WIRED’s Epicenter blog, and Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang.

Thanks to Mike, Heather and Jeanne Logozzo for your help so we could participate in this year’s event, and thanks to everyone that stopped by the PerkettPR margarita booth We hope to meet many more of you again soon and work together to build even greater “buzz” for your tech endeavors.

— Posted by Heather