Journalist profile: Lillia Callum-Penso, The Greenville News

Kim and I had the fortune to sit down with The Greenville News lifestyle reporter Lillia Callum-Penso recently. Lillia’s a breath of fresh air, and really gave us some great insight into her job and what’s she’s looking for in terms of story ideas.

She agreed to serve as this week’s journalist profiles. Read on to learn more about Lillia.

o Please provide title and a brief description of what you do:
Features Reporter. I write articles primarily for the Lifestyle section of the paper, including subjects like food, family, fashion, home and garden and general features and trend stories.

o How did you become interested in journalism?
I always liked to write and used to make up short stories with my dad.

o Where did you get your career start?
I started as a reporter for link Magazine, a free weekly publication in Greenville.

o Who or what has had the most impact on your career to date?
Probably my father, one of the best writers I know (although not by trade).

o What piece of advice would you give to students possibly considering a career in journalism?
I would say make sure you can do more than just write. Journalism is really so much about ideas and having the awareness and curiosity to explore them.

o What changes have you seen in the industry that are the most interesting to you?
I’d say the Web-related changes have dominated the industry. Most stories now should include some sort of online component.

o Who is your target audience and how do you look for stories to appeal to them?
We try and reach all people but the 18 – 24 and 25 – 34 set tend to respond more to web-related content and the 50 and over set tend to respond more to print content.

o What is the best thing about your job?
Getting to meet so many new people and getting to here so many interesting stories. Everyone has one.

o What is the thing you like least about your job?
The fact that deadlines mean I don’t always get to spend as much time as I’d like with people I’m interviewing.

o How do public relations professionals assist you in your journalism role?
Sometimes they can present an interesting trend story idea or more likely they help me connect with a potential source.

o What things could PR professionals do better when reaching out to journalists?
It’s always helpful to have pitches that are specifically related to my paper’s coverage area.

o What Web sites and/or blogs do you read most often and why?
Honestly, I go to first thing and I also read lots of other newspaper and magazine sites to get story ideas.


How to succeed in business..and still have a life – IPA PRSA teleseminar – Nov. 19

Just a heads up on an upcoming IPA (Independent Practitioners Alliance) teleseminar hosted by PRSA

Titled “How to succeed in business and still have a life,” the teleseminar will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 19, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

If there is any interest among practitioners in the Greenville area to attend in a central location and split the fees (Independent Practitioners Alliance Member $85, Member $190 / Nonmember $290), please let me know and I can coordinate. I’ve included the description below.
Too many professionals work hard and yet spin their wheels. Many are only a few minor adjustments away from real success. Learn proven strategies and step-by-step approaches that can make the difference between just getting by and succeeding.

You’ll learn how to:

Set ambitious goals and achieve them.
Develop a concise, focused plan that literally guides your actions, and provides accountability for you and your team members.
Use values to provide guidance to your staff – even when you’re not at the office.
Get the right people on your team…and keep them there.
Delegate effectively.

You will hear from:

Bill Collier, with St. Louis-based Collier Business Advisors, LLC ( has real life experience starting, growing, buying and selling successful companies, using his own money. He knows what it’s like to have to “make payroll.”

Bill is a business coach, consultant, professional speaker, author and entrepreneur. His book “How to Succeed As a Small Business Owner…and Still Have a Life” reached the #1 Book on in the “Work/Life Balance” category in 2007.

So many social networks, so little time

This is a great article in Ad Age that can help you navigate through the world of social networks and use them to your best advantage.

Like Liza, I have a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a blog, a CrackBerry, but it’s hard for me to stay focused on what I really want to get out of using these tools. Do I just want to reconnect with friends and post fun pictures from the weekend, or do I want to position myself as an expert, a PR pro, a writer and try to get new jobs, new leads and new contacts through my efforts? A little bit of both maybe.

If you’ve strategically created your image through social media tools and would like to provide helpful hints, please let us know. I’m all ears!

How do you stay strategic?

I came across this post from Todd Defren’s PR Squared blog: “I wish my PR firm was more strategic.”

What really struck me was how close to home the post’s message hit me. I have the pleasure of working with three really great clients right now, all of which afford me the opportunity to provide strategic and results-driven public relations counsel.

But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I felt like I was simply going through the routine motions. I think we’re all guilty of this, especially if we’ve been working with a client, or even within an organization, for a long period of time.

This post reminded me why I love my clients, and it’s up to me to make sure I continue to provide them with the best, most strategic, most attentive PR service I can. I take Todd’s post as a great reminder to myself to continually challenge and exceed my clients’ expectations every day.

What about you? Now that summer’s over and we’re headed into fall – do you find yourself sometimes falling back on tried-and-true routines simply because you know how to do them and you know they’re ‘good enough’ to get by? Or are you constantly looking at ways you can show your expertise and prove your value to your clients or within your organization?

How do you get yourself out of a routine rut? I think we’d all love to learn some ways we can motivate our strategic sides!

Successfully pitched a blogger – share your stories!

Even though Liza and I have been blogging since March, I haven’t had many opportunities to pitch a blogger myself. Well, I got the perfect chance last week when I was working on a project for the German American Chamber of Commerce South.

They are hosting the 11th annual Bierfest this Friday at Falls Park, and – in addition to conducting traditional media relations activities – I decided to send the information to Brian Cendrowski, blogger at Untamed Beer.

He recently sent me the post, and I hope that it encourages his readers – especially those who are beer lovers of the German variety – to attend and enjoy the event. (You should come, too, if you are in town and want to enjoy some authentic German cuisine, culture and music!!)

In the interest of total transparency, I think I should also mention that Brian is Nicole Cendrowski’s husband. But even though I wasn’t “cold pitching,” the information obviously had to be relevant to his target audience and timely enough to create interest and action.

Do you have success stories in pitching bloggers? Or do you have any “do not try this at home” tips to share from unsuccessful attempts? Join the conversation and let us know your thoughts!

How far should loyalty take you?

Hi peeps,
Sorry for the long absence! But you’ll be glad to know Kim and I have been scouring the community, meeting with journalists and other interesting people. We’re looking forward to reviving Palmetto PR and engaging in some more interesting dialogue with all of you!

(Also – welcome to all of the new Clemson PRSSA members as they kick off their chapter with a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 25! Kim and I will be there and can’t wait to meet all of you!).

Ok, now on to what I’ve been thinking about lately: Loyalty and Hair. Yes, those two things together. As most women will understand (and some men, too), we are very loyal to our hairdressers. More than any other service providers, our hairdressers are our confidants, our therapists and above all, they hold the power to help us look our best.

Yes, we are very loyal to our hairdressers, even if we know we might receive a better haircut from someone else. So this week, I did the unthinkable. I cheated on my hairdresser, the one I’ve been going to since I was a little girl.

As soon as I made the decision to do it, the guilt set in. Should I call my old hairdresser and tell her? Should I just avoid her at all costs, ducking into a store if I happen to see her on the street? (This IS still somewhat of a small town, after all).

But I went somewhere new yesterday to get my haircut and all I can tell you is: what a breath of fresh air! Not to toot my own horn, but it’s the best haircut I’ve had in a while and I was really happy with it! (Cue more guilty feelings – should I feel bad for liking my new haircut better than my old?).

Kim and I talked about it and I came to the conclusion that sometimes change is good. Although loyalty is to be valued, sometimes it’s nice to mix it up a little and see what else is out there. I ended up paying the same price for a haircut I like better than what I was receiving. I know “it’s not personal, it’s business,” but I don’t subscribe to that philosophy at all. Business IS personal, whether you want to think so or not.

I still haven’t figured out what to do about my old hairdresser – if I should come clean and tell her or just hope I never have to address it.

What do you think about loyalty? How far does it take you with someone you work with, and when do you decide it’s better to make a change? And on the flip side, if you’re the one providing the product or service, what can you do to keep your loyal customers happy so they don’t feel the need to stray?

Let’s discuss…..

Where have we gone?

Hi gang,

This is just a quick note to let you know that no, Kim and I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. The past couple of weeks have been incredibly hectic for both of us and it seems the blog has been pushed to the back burner a bit. For that, we apologize.

When Kim and I started this blog, we made the commitment to bring (what we felt would be) useful and entertaining industry news to you, our readers. And we intend to continue doing that.

But we don’t want to post just to post – so we only write when we feel there’s something worth discussing. With that in mind, we’d love to hear from YOU and know more about what’s affecting you in your line of work. We need a little new creative inspiration around here!

So if we don’t write as often, it’s not because we’ve forgotten, it’s just because we’re waiting on the right thing to say. Keep reading and send us your suggestions and ideas. We’ve enjoyed writing this blog and hope it continues to be a useful forum for all of us in the PR, marketing and business world.

Thanks for reading and we hope to hear from you soon!

Liza & Kim (the Palmetto PR Divas)