Journalist profile: Keith O’Brien, PRWeek

As you know, in addition to profiling outstanding public relations practitioners, we here at Palmetto PR Divas like to feature compelling journalists, too, so that we might learn more about the state of the media right now and the challenges facing their industry.

Please meet Keith O’Brien, editor in chief of PRWeek magazine and This is a great weekly trade publication dedicated to breaking news in the PR and marketing industry and highlighting trends affecting our business. Keith shares more about his experiences as editor and what it’s like dealing with other PR people……

Palmetto PR Diva Journalist Profile: Keith O’Brien, PRWeek

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:  Keith O’Brien, editor-in-chief, PRWeek. I am responsible for all of the editorial content and strategy for the PRWeek brand.
o How did you become interested in journalism?  Oddly enough, I first knew I wanted to be a journalist in elementary school; my teacher had us create a “publication” – very generous description of what was basically scribblings in our notebooks. I “helmed” the sports section. I remember I picked every college football bowl game correctly that season for this “publication.” I guess I enjoyed the writing, otherwise I would be a Vegas handicapper. That – combined with an innate interest in writing – led me to become a journalist.

o Where did you get your career start?  Venture Reporter (nee Silicon Alley Reporter), helmed by the second most loved-hated Internet superstar Jason Calacanis (Mark Cuban being #1).
o Who or what has had the most impact on your career to date?  I would like to cop out and say everyone and everything. You can not absorb too much information. Unfortunately, this means you end up reading stuff on the Internet while watching TV, driving, or playing basketball for fear of missing out on breaking news.

o What piece of advice would you give to students possibly considering a career in journalism?  Get a dual degree in business. The media world needs employees who are entrepreneurial as they are reporters.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that are the most interesting to you?  That you cannot float by as a journalist anymore. You’re expected to produce and produce and produce. I expect that of my employees because I know everyone else expects. It’s a great time to be a journalist if you really want to care about what you do.

o Who is your target audience and how do you look for stories to appeal to them?  Our primary target audience is public relations professionals, but we’re increasingly trying to reach professionals in other marketing disciplines. Appealing stories? Dialogue and, again, voracious reading of all media.

o What is the best thing about your job?  Making a great product.

o What is the thing you like least about your job?  Making mistakes while pursue said product.

o How do public relations professionals assist you in your journalism role?  Well, we have a weird relationship with PR professionals. We cover them, instead of their bosses. So they assist us in a unique way.
o What things could PR professionals do better when reaching out to journalists?  Depend less on blasting out to lists and more on cultivating relationships.
o What Web sites and/or blogs do you read most often and why? (best aggregator out there); (ditto, for tech); (though I often get annoyed at the contrarian-by-the-numbers approach); and frankly just my Google Reader, which has hundreds of feeds.

o Where do you look for news story and/or column ideas?  See above.


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