Media Moment: Jessie Dowd

Our Media Moment is Jessie Dowd, editor in chief of design:retail, a leading print and digital magazine for retail designers. Tasked with providing timely and on-trend content as well as expert insights from around the world, Jessie has a front row seat for what is up-and-coming in the world of this multi-trillion-dollar industry.

THO recently got the chance to speak with Jessie about how she found herself working at design:retail and what a day in the life entails.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your path to design:retail.

 

I have a bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from The University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. After school, I interned at a consumer magazine publishing house in Atlanta before moving to B2B and joining design:retail (which was known as DDI magazine at the time), where I’ve been for 13 years now. I started as associate editor, and progressed through various roles (managing editor, senior editor and executive editor). This resulted in eventually becoming editor in chief in 2019.

What trend have you seen in the retail industry that you’re most excited about?

I think it’s really exciting to see how once-online-only brands are realizing that a physical retail presence is an essential touch-point in growing their brands and overall success. Another exciting trend in retail is the concept of checkout-free stores (like the Amazon Go concept). The ways in which technology can aid the physical retail experience are just beginning to be explored.

What is your best piece of advice for PR professionals reaching out to design:retail or journalists in general?

Keep it brief! We get a lot of pitches. A concise email that clearly outlines a project with a brief description of pertinent info makes it easier for editors to filter relevant pitches quickly. We also love to see images (without having to request them). A link to a Dropbox where we can instantly see photos—and download if we choose to do so—is really convenient. And OMG please don’t call me. Maybe it’s just the Millennial in me, but I much prefer email—it’s faster and more efficient.

How do you come up with new story ideas?

I get ideas for new stories from everywhere, including news sites online, pitches from design firms and retailers, press releases and from industry contacts and writers.

Take a look at the design:retail website here!

THO

Media Moment: Jessica Isaac

Jessica Isaac is a writer for Apartment Therapy as well as a a freelance professional photographer.

You can see Jessica Isaac and her work on her website here and on Instagram here.

What led to your interest in writing? What led to your interest in photography?

I’ve always loved the slow, introspective nature of writing. Though, I tend to veer on the side of introverted, so writing is the perfect way for me to express what’s inside my head without the dark cloud of social anxiety getting in the way. In a similar manner, I gravitate toward architectural and still life photography for the same reason. While I love to look at candid photography, it’s my tendency to want to have more control and intention with the images I produce. Shooting interiors (which is what I specialize in) allows me to be slow and intentional to create a final image that is more aspirational than photo-journalistic. Writing about and photographing home interiors is the perfect subject for me, as the beauty of a home’s design feels very intimate and self-reflective.

What is something that you would like people to know about freelance writing?

Having a voice is probably more important than technical perfection. Being trained in school to write in perfect MLA format can really creep up on you and stifle your style. Especially in the digital world, capturing a reader’s attention is crucial, and copy editing oversights can be continually adjusted over time (obviously you should always copy edit your own work to help ensure this doesn’t need to happen, because grammatical errors will also creep up on your over time…in the comments section). Also, if you have a quick turnaround (more than likely), try not to overthink it. If it’s not your best creative work, you probably don’t have enough time to make it your best creative work, so practice getting good at knowing when it’s to stop, turn it in, and get it off your plate.What’s your favorite piece you’ve written? Why?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. I really like writing pieces like Design (& Life!) Lessons from a Forever Renter because I get to commiserate with and (hopefully) inspire a community who wants to take control of their own homes, whether they own them it or not. Since I am trained in the interior design world, I see a lot of images and articles that make us all feel like our own lives will never be adequate. Apartment Therapy is such a great forum for celebrating diversity in home design.

Are there any trends or changes you’ve noticed in the architecture/interior design sectors?

It changes so fast, if I say anything specific, it will probably be out of style already! The broadest shift right now is away from bright white-washed walls and stark minimalism, towards warmth and color.

What’s something people might not know about you?

A lot! I don’t display much of my personal life on the internet. So, I guess the fact that my home never feels finished. I see so many beautiful homes on the regular that my inspiration is never-ending!

 

Thanks, Jessica Isaac for taking the time to participate in our Media Moment. If you are interested in being on our media moment section, please reach out to lhowe@hoytorg.com.

THO

Media Moment: William Speros, online editor

William Speros is the online editor for Hospitality Design, Contract, and Design:Retail. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

What led to your interest in journalism?

I’ve always aspired to be a storyteller. I was also curious about so much of the world and wanted to better comprehend its scope. At some point in high school I realized people were the best way to accomplish this. That led to photography courses and the school newspaper. I went on to pound the pavement for years in New York as a beat reporter and cover topics ranging from rumors of electioneering to workplace efficiency to Bronx-born musicians and artists. I’m lucky that I get to still talk to such a colorful spectrum of people as an editor, and see through so many different eyes.

It was and remains deeply rewarding to gain a person’s trust in order to help us all make sense of the world. There are not many other jobs that come to mind in which honesty and openness are an imperative. I’ve always worked hard not to embody the ambulance chaser archetype. The poet Tommy Pico once referred to poets as “stewards of language”. I like to think of reporters and editors perhaps as stewards of truth.

What is something that you would like people to know about what you do?

Design is one of those beats that infiltrates all facets of my life because built environments inform how we engage with the world. Moreover, the evolution of public spaces illustrates our social and political urgencies. Writing about design is a really valuable experience for me because it contextualizes where we are and where we may go. At the end of the day, design is about finding solutions and it provides a unique (and less stressful) perspective on current affairs.

What’s your favorite piece you’ve written as an editor? Why?

I hesitate to identify as a sneakerhead. But Nike sneakers are certainly favored by my disposable income. Nike makes innovation appear so seamless. From how it brands itself, to how we buy Jordans. When the opportunity arose to get a first-look at its Fifth Avenue flagship last year, I felt as though I was getting a glimpse behind the curtain. It was magical to experience a space that lived and breathed. I cannot recall many other spaces that felt alive to me. Not only does the Nike House of Innovation 000 outshine every other retail space on Fifth Avenue, but in my opinion, it sets a precedent for what elevated shopping looks like.

Are there any changes you’ve noticed in the architecture/interior design sectors?

The emphasis on sustainability has unsurprisingly become far more urgent. It has also illuminated many other areas of need. This includes access to clean drinking water, and increased accessibility for the physically disabled, that thoughtful design can support. Something as simple as the use of locally sourced or sustainable materials not only protects the planet, but also heightens our own appreciation of these spaces. I have to say, designers convey a lot of optimism and their ability to perceive the physicals dimensions of a better world quells my cynicism.

What’s something people might not know about you as an editor?

I am pretty open about what kinds of media I consume, but most people probably don’t know that I have a soft spot for trashy reality TV. My latest indulgence has been Naked & Afraid and I think this may be the summer I dive into Love Island. We are all entitled to a healthy dose of escapism.

THO

Media Moment: KC Stanfield

KC Stanfield is a reporter with Crittenden Research, Inc., which publishes targeted real state publications, such as The Crittenden Report: Real Estate Financing, The Crittenden Retail Tenants Report, and Crittenden’s The Apartment Report.

Q: What made you want to become a journalist?

I initially wanted to go into video game journalism. I really liked the idea of writing about and reviewing one of my hobbies. That dream ended pretty quickly once I got my bachelor’s degree in journalism. Everything is so carefully gated by PR reps that most game coverage isn’t very fulfilling to write. So, I took my skills to writing about business and fell into the multifamily niche.

Q: Do you consider yourself a writer first or a reporter first?

Contrary to my official title, I’d consider myself more of a writer. Covering nationwide multifamily trends means I can get in touch with most people at my desk, barring the occasional conference. I think the reporter title is an honor you get when you’re hitting the streets or doing deep investigative journalism.

Q: Because you work for such a niche publication, do you tend to hear more from PR reps who understand your market and your audience or do you hear from PR reps who have no idea what you write about?

I’d say it’s about 50/50. Most of the reps for multifamily companies that I reach out to know, or at least have a basic grasp, on the business and audience I’m writing for. With that said, I still get more than my fair share of emails about topics that I could never cover because they wouldn’t interest our audience.

Q: What’s something that most people don’t know about you?

A lot of people might not know I wrote for a rock/metal publication before writing about multifamily. I even got to interview Anthrax, the thrash metal band, for an article.

Q: I’m stealing a question from a soccer podcast that I listen to and it’s intentionally open-ended: What do people need to know?

One of the issues I hear a lot about is the affordability crisis of housing in major cities. A lot of people will blame landlords for raising rents and pricing the working class out of many locations, when the problem stems from a lack of housing to begin with, which is usually a symptom from regulations, NIMBYism, a slow bureaucratic process, or a combination of all three. Real estate will always be heavily tied to supply and demand metrics. Developers will always want to build in the dense cities and building new supply is the best long-term solution for helping out the average renter.

Also, the best Mexican food place in San Diego is a hole-in-the-wall called Chiquitas.

Thank you KC Stanfield, for being a Media Moment!

The Hoyt Organization

Media Moment: Gena Wynkoop

Gena Wynkoop is the Assistant Editor for Seattle Refined, lifestyle TV show on KOMO-TV.

How did you get into journalism, specifically lifestyle-related topics happening in Seattle?  

Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to write and I figured that journalism was probably the best avenue for me to tell stories.  

Beyond that, I also have a big zest for life and for people. So with this love for writing and passion for Seattle and communities in general, I knew that writing and telling stories about a place that I loved would be the COOLEST job ever. 

The fact that I can use my voice to highlight local artists, companies and events is not only so fun – but incredibly rewarding. The people I cover are always so grateful and I’m like hey – thank YOU for making my job so fun and our community brighter. 

What’s your favorite article you’ve ever written? Why? 

That is tough!

I love writing stories that I connect to personally and emotionally. Due to the light-hearted nature of my work, It’s not every day I can come in and write a piece that is super heartfelt and something that I connect with. I think it’s rare that writers have an opportunity to do that, especially early on in their careers. 

That being said, I do have some that I put my heart and soul into.

I wrote a piece on Street Bean, a local coffee shop who hires homeless youth and helps them get on their feet. Overall, it was a touching opportunity because I spoke with a young woman who found herself homeless after emigrating from Russia to Seattle. My favorite part of the whole thing was that we were the same age, and she felt like an old friend. I was happy to tell her story.

Fans recall their favorite memories at The Showbox – This was a passion project of mine! The ShowBox is an iconic music venue in Seattle that was being threatened by developers to turn into apartment complexes. Not on Seattle’s watch! I asked a few locals to send in their memories from favorite concerts and reading through the submissions was SO FUN! That’s the community aspect I love. #SavetheShowbox

Behind-The-Scenes of a Sweaty, Alternative Rugby Photoshoot – This was a fun and light-hearted piece I wrote about that I loved! A behind the scenes piece about an alternative photoshoot we did with Seattle’s Seawolves, our Major League Rugby team. I played rugby in high school so it was fun to get out and watch them practice and then boss them around for a little bit 😉

Thank you Gena Wynkoop for being a Media Moment!

The Hoyt Organization

Media Moment: Therese Fitzgerald

Therese Fitzgerald is the Senior Editor for Commercial Property Executive and Multi-Housing News.

How did you get into real estate journalism, specifically in the CRE space? Were you always interested in the subject?

Years ago, I responded to a job listing for a business writer at a weekly newspaper in New York. The topic turned out to be commercial real estate—something I had never really even thought about. We were a small staff, so I had the opportunity to talk to entrepreneurs and executives of all kinds as well as public officials and to visit buildings all over the city. It was a great education. Five years later, I moved on to a national publication and that was really exciting. Real estate is real estate, but each market has its unique characteristics, local legends and impressive up-and-comers.

What is your best piece of advice for PR professionals reaching out to CPE or MHN?

Pitching us by email is probably the best way to reach us and we welcome pitches for features and bylines. News is an important aspect of what we do, so press releases are important to us. But please be prepared to provide us more than what is in the release. We need access to the principals for original quotes, pertinent figures and high-quality images. Keep in mind, however, we typically do not write about development projects until they break ground.

What is your favorite aspect of the work you do every day?

I love talking to real estate professionals. Their entrepreneurial spirits, their work ethics and their nothing-is-impossible attitudes are really inspiring. I also feel lucky to be working with words every day (I took a break from real estate journalism for a time and got a Masters in English Education). We also have an awesome staff here and I enjoy collaborating with them.

Thank you Therese Fitzgerald for being a Media Moment!

The Hoyt Organization

Media Moment: Brandon Richardson

Brandon Richardson is a senior writer for the Long Beach Business Journal. 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and what made you want to be a writer for a publication such as the Long Beach Business Journal?

After high school, I enrolled at California State University, Long Beach, where I was studying to become an English teacher. After several semesters, I dropped out of school to pursue a career in music and spent the next five years touring the world. In fall 2013, I decided to go back to school. My first semester at Long Beach City College I took a magazine writing class and fell in love with journalism. After that, school was all journalism classes and conferences representing the school’s newspaper and magazine. The morning of my graduation, June 2016 (a Thursday), I had an interview with the Long Beach Business Journal (LBBJ). I was hired the following Monday. To be able to work for a publication in the city I was born and raised, particularly directly after graduating with an AA, when so many people my age and younger struggle to find work in their field of study is incredible.

What is your favorite story you’ve covered?

The LBBJ used to have a section that would feature small businesses – a photo and a quick write up for each. I would interview the owners, write the stories and sometimes take the photos. Small businesses don’t often get a chance to be in the spotlight and the owners were always ecstatic and so grateful for the opportunity to showcase what they have created from the ground up. In all, I wrote about more than 125 small businesses.

Who is your dream interview?

This is an impossible question, really. There are infinite people that would be interesting and worthy of being interviewed. Small business owners, seniors, community leaders, government officials at every level, entertainers, teachers – everyone has a story to tell. There is one story idea I have been sitting on for years that would require me to interview numerous musicians from bands I admire, frequently listen to and watch perform, but I’m going to keep that to myself . . . for now.

What is something you’d like to share with our followers? 

I have lived in Long Beach my entire life – 31 years. Before working at the LBBJ, I was woefully unaware of anything that had to do with city government. There were neighborhoods in Long Beach that I didn’t even know existed. There were crises at the city, county and state level that I was ignorant to. My job as a journalist, particularly for a localized publication, has taught me the importance of being engaged with, or at least aware of, what is happening in the city you call home. I love my city more because of it.

Thank you Brandon Richardson for being a Media Moment!

 

The Hoyt Organization

Media Moment: Dennis Lynch

Dennis Lynch, can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into journalism? I realized after graduating high school that journalism was a pretty good way to incorporate a lot of the interests I’ve had since I was a kid — history, politics, social science, etc. I couldn’t think of any career that wouldn’t bore me after a while and journalism lets you get into so many different things, sort of switch gears whenever you want, so it’s good for people like me who have wide interests that don’t fit into many other careers.  My father was also a journalist when he was younger, so that probably influenced me.

What do you enjoy about journalism and real estate? From the outside, real estate is an intimidating beat to cover. I had never covered anything as complex before I started at The Real Deal and it’s been rewarding and fun to learn how the machine works. That’s true about anything you cover. The most exciting thing for me is that point when you realize your following the right path — that your inferences were right and that you’re asking good questions, on the way to a good story.

Apart from that I genuinely enjoy providing (what I think is) unbiased information to people, because you know, that’s the job, and what I like about The Real Deal, is that we straddle a trade publication and a general interest publication. I think that provides an opportunity to help the general interest crowd better understand the business and to remind our industry readers that cap rates, rents, and development affect more than just a company’s bottom line, which I’ve seen get lost in the sauce.

What is your favorite story that you have covered? Not my “biggest” story by any means, but a story I wrote a year ago about a fairly small lease dispute led me down a rabbit hole that involves a missing foreign royal, a web of LLCs excessive even for real estate, and allegations of massive fraud. It’s an example of why you should always dig as deep as you can. Still digging on that one.

What are some changes/trends you have seen in the real estate sector? On the positive side, it’s great to see more architects and developers thinking environmentally. They’re some of the few people who can directly influence the everyday living habits and ecological footprint of hundreds, if not thousands of people, so I hope that stays a trend. I hope they continue to keep pedestrians at the center of the conversation too.

On the other side of the coin, it’s very disheartening to see the low quality, identical development projects that are popping up in cities across the country. This is a problem in both commercial and residential sectors. I know the financials sometimes only allow for it, but I would like to see developers think more long-term — a built environment who’s main purpose is to create cashflow for the people who own it isn’t a nice place to live. Sooner or later the financials will suffer. I worry that every block in every city across the country is going to look the same and what’s the good in that? On a side note, it’s only a matter of time before popular opinion turns against the exposed brick, coffee shop, hip design style. I think it’s on its last legs, so I hope we’re about to see some changes.

Tell us something most people wouldn’t know about Dennis Lynch. I’m hijacking this for a shameless plug: most people don’t know I’m in Los Angeles for work for most of April, so LA folks email me (dl@therealdeal.com) with story ideas and tips, lets meet up in person!

 

 

Thank you Dennis Lynch for being a Media Moment!

THO

Media Moment: Wendy Bowman Littler

Freelance writer for luxury lifestyle and real estate publication

As a freelance writer for luxury lifestyle and real estate publications, stunning destinations and residences are nothing new for Wendy Bowman. From her home base in San Clemente, California, Wendy covers residential real estate, hospitality ventures, design and more for publications in Los Angeles, Orange County, Atlanta and New York. Before she began working from the West Coast, she followed local news and lifestyles, nonprofit business, real estate and more for Atlanta Business Chronicle.

We sat down with Wendy to learn about her freelance work, dream assignment and more:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your freelance life.

I worked as a full-time columnist and editor for Atlanta Business Chronicle for 15 years. After traveling to California frequently on vacation, I decided to buy a little place in Laguna Beach. I began spending more and more time in Laguna, so I asked my publisher if he could arrange a more flexible work schedule that would accommodate my travel needs. He put me on contract, and I continued to serve as editor of Living in Atlanta and Atlanta Now magazines, mostly from California. Meanwhile, I built up my freelance work in both Atlanta and California, and I eventually decided to go out on my own. Because of my background with Living in Atlanta magazine, a residential real estate and lifestyle publication, I began writing a lot of those types of articles for Modern Luxury magazines in Atlanta, Orange County and New York. I also have had several other clients along the way, including the Visit Newport Beach website blog. A couple of years ago — again because of my background in writing about real estate and lifestyle topics — I was lucky enough to connect with both the publisher and editor of South Bay and Westside DIGS magazines. I’ve since become a regular contributor to DIGS, writing both real estate and lifestyle articles.

You’ve been a journalist for more than 30 years, what sparked your love for journalism?

I became enamored with journalism while working as a features editor on my high school newspaper in South Georgia. I interviewed a famous NFL football player (I’m a huge football fan), and thought, “What other job could I do that would allow me to meet and talk with famous people for work?” I was sold. I went on to intern at a couple of weekly newspapers and a daily newspaper while attending a junior college. Then, after graduating from the University of Georgia, I got my first job at a big magazine publishing company in Atlanta and went from there. Today, in addition to DIGS, my other top client is Modern Luxury, including The Atlantan, Interiors California, Interiors Atlanta, Manhattan and San Diego magazines. I also write for BASK magazine in California and still write and edit for Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Tell us about your dream assignment.

I’ve been working so hard for so long that I haven’t had a vacation in quite a long time. So, I would have to say that my dream assignment would be to cover a lovely beach resort in a far-off land where I could partake in activities such as yoga and tanning.

What is your favorite article you’ve ever written? Why?

There are so many, but most happened when I was a nonprofit reporter for Atlanta Business Chronicle. One of the most memorable is when I interviewed Dexter King, the son of Martin Luther King Jr., about the sale of The King Center. We met in his office and he sat under a portrait of his father; he was the spitting image of him. Very surreal.

What are some tips for people who want to pitch you a story?

Send me an email with all of the details. Make sure it pertains to the subjects I cover, and if you pitch something and I decide to run with it, please make sure you can deliver information and images.

 

Wendy Bowman Littler Media
https://www.facebook.com/groups/wendysworldoffreelance/

https://www.instagram.com/wendyinsanc/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendy-bowman-595a785/

Thank you Wendy Bowman Littler for being a Media Moment!

The Hoyt Organization

Media Moment: An Interview with Jillian Spokely

Jillian Spokely, tell us a bit about your path into real estate? What do you like about working in the luxury residential sector?

I got into real estate in 2016, shortly after moving to California. Previous to LA, I was living in Minneapolis, MN working at an advertising agency and bartending on nights & weekends. When I moved to Los Angeles, I started completely fresh. I loved aspects of advertising, and I wanted to do something that would allow me to use my creativity without compromising my true (not so traditional) self. After a few months of job and soul searching, my boyfriend asked me if I ever considered Real Estate as a career. The moment I heard those words, my jaw hit the floor because I had the most exciting vision of myself as an agent and what I wanted to create. I Googled “real estate brokerage near me” and scheduled a meeting with the recruiter. The next day, I signed up for classes to get my license. Everything has truly fallen into place since that moment. That recruiter is one of my besties to this day.

 

What sparked your love for real estate?

What originally sparked my passion for real estate was that there are no limits to what you can create.  From there, I have discovered so many aspects of being a Realtor that I am completely in love with. Being of service to others is by far my favorite part. I’m extremely grateful to always be in that constant flow of giving and receiving.

 

What are some of the changes you have seen in the real estate landscape?

This is a great question. Style-wise there are too many changes to name! I was born and raised in rural North Dakota where ranch-style homes are virtually the only style home you ever see built. When I lived in Minneapolis, there were so many beautiful brownstones built in the early 1900s. Those are my personal favorite – and I will always love the old beach bungalows in the South Bay.

 

How does social media help you with your work?

I personally love social media as a creative outlet. My Instagram is such a sacred communication platform. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my Instagram feed. In return, I have the best support system of followers! Most of whom I’ve never even met. I have an album of screenshots in my phone from followers with the most encouraging, inspiring, kind words and I read them constantly to keep me motivated.

 

Tell us something most people don’t know about you?

I constantly crave salt. I put it on everything! I carry a little jar of truffle salt in my purse. Truffle salt + lipstick = essentials.

 

Thank you Jillian Spokely for being a Media moment!

THO

Media Moment: An Interview with Orest Mandzy

Managing Editor of Commercial Real Estate Direct

Orest Mandzy has been at the forefront of reporting financial news and information for more than 30 years. For 18 of those years, he’s been at the helm of one of commercial real estate’s top media outlets, Commercial Real Estate Direct. In that time, he’s seen the transformation of the media landscape firsthand and also has become one of the go-to resources for CRE insights.

However, Orest Mandzy is much better at telling his story than we are, and we got the privilege of learning more about him through our recent interview. Without further ado, this week’s Media Monday:

Orest Mandzy, tell us a bit about yourself and your path to Commercial Real Estate Direct.

It’s funny, but I didn’t really study journalism in college. I have a business degree, but I’ve always loved writing, so when I was a sophomore in college (I went to Baruch College, which is part of the City University of New York), I figured I had to get involved with some organization or another. I joined the school newspaper and covered sports. I also took a couple, or three, journalism courses. As a junior, I got an internship with the American Banker newspaper, which was fortuitous because when I graduated, financial firms weren’t really in hiring mode, and American Banker offered me a job.

What’s interesting about the world of financial journalism is that few in journalism want to go into financial reporting. I’m completely baffled by that, but that worked in my favor. I was at the American Banker for a couple of years, when I got a call from Standard & Poor’s, which was staffing up a newswire. They were generous, so who was I to turn them down? But SPNS (Spins, for Standard & Poor’s News Service) was short-lived. I then moved to a McGraw-Hill newsletter that tracked the sales side of the bond and equity markets.

Providing proof that you should never burn bridges and always develop good relationships with everyone you meet, I got a call from two former American Banker colleagues who had left to launch a newsletter company. I joined Harrison Scott Publications, which at the time was publishing Thrift Liquidation Alert, a publication covering the savings and loan bailout.

I was with Harrison Scott for nearly 10 years when I got a call – it’s that “develop good relationships” thing again – from one of the founders of a startup that became Internet Publishing Group. They wanted to launch a commercial real estate news and information service that would be delivered with the internet. Few news organizations were doing that at the time, and I thought, “What a grand idea. Get on the ground floor of a startup.” So, I joined them, and we launched what today is Commercial Real Estate Direct. The rest, as some people say, is history. That was 18 years ago. We’re still going strong.

A few things happened on the way to now. Internet Publishing Group floundered along with hundreds of other dot-coms. I raised capital from friends and family and bought Commercial Real Estate Direct, becoming an entrepreneur. And four years ago, sold my publication business to Trepp LLC, a substantial player in the CMBS analytics business. We still publish Commercial Real Estate Direct, which I oversee, but our content is now integrated into their offering.

You’ve been a reporter for almost your entire career. What sparked your love for journalism?

I’ve always enjoyed learning about things and writing about them. Plus, I really enjoy getting substantial scoops. After 30 years of doing this, I still get a rush from them.

What are some of the changes you’ve seen in the media landscape that have impacted your career the most?

The quick adoption of electronically delivered news and information has been startling. Eighteen years ago, when we were developing Commercial Real Estate Direct, few in the commercial real estate industry would consider getting their news and information electronically – believe me, we faced challenges selling our product – everyone then still preferred their information on paper.

Things are 180 degrees different now. If you’re still publishing on paper, you’re a dinosaur. People want their information at their fingertips and at their beck and call. They want to know about Deal X and expect to be able to find information about it by doing a quick search.

What is your biggest PR pet peeve?

Not much really bothers me too much. Life’s too short to get upset about many things. But sometimes it’s annoying when a PR person emails with a story pitch and it’s clearly not in our wheelhouse. Our publication is Commercial Real Estate Direct, we really don’t care about how smoke-free cigarettes are being marketed and to whom. It’s also annoying when people call to ask if I received their press release. I did and ignored it.

Tell us something most people don’t know about you.

Some people think I look like Brad Pitt…okay, that’s not true. I’m trilingual. My mother was from Colombia and my father was from Ukraine. At home, before we were old enough to go to school, we spoke primarily in Spanish. And we – my two brothers and sister – always spoke to our father in Ukrainian. I didn’t really start speaking English until I was maybe five years old. I no longer consider myself fluent in the other two languages but I’m still generally understandable in all three languages, English included.

 

 

Thank you Orest Mandzy for being a Media Moment!

The Hoyt Organization

Media Monday: An Interview with Heather Turk

 

Freelancer entertainment writer & editor; associate editor for Sunseeker

 

A graduate of the University of Southern California, Heather Turk’s byline has appeared everywhere from the Los Angeles Times to Playboy.com — with her review of “The Truman Show” making the front page of The Detroit News‘ movie section when she was just 17 years old. Throughout her career, she has interviewed some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Jim Carrey, Will Smith, Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore and George Clooney. She is currently the associate editor of Allegiant Air’s in-flight publication, Sunseeker, and continues to write for a variety of other outlets, including the Los Angeles Times Las Vegas Travel Guide, Front Row Features, ShowTickets.com, BestofVegas.com and Alaska Beyond

 

THO recently spoke with Heather to get the rundown on her career and journalistic style:

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your path to journalism.

My mom used to tell stories of how, when I was a toddler, I would walk around our apartment with a notebook and pencil in hand and tell everyone I was going to write in my “journal.” Mind you, at this age I couldn’t read or write yet, but my mom says all signs were there that I was going to be a journalist. In middle school and high school I was always involved with the school newspapers, and when I was in the eighth grade, our county newspaper in Michigan was looking for some local movie critics. I submitted a review of “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit,” and it was chosen for publication. They started publishing my reviews every Thursday never knowing I was just a kid. I continued emailing in my reviews every week for publication until I was ready to go to college. By the time I moved to Los Angeles and started college at the University of Southern California (where I double majored in Print Journalism and Film/TV Critical Studies), I had more than a hundred movie reviews printed, including my review of “The Truman Show” which ran on the front page of The Detroit News’ movie section when I was 17 years old. By Christmas break my freshman year at USC, I had already interviewed two of the top three celebrities I wanted to interview at some point during my career – Will Smith and Adam Sandler – and worked on a movie set with the other, Jim Carrey (I would later go on to interview Carrey for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Majestic” and “Bruce Almighty.”)

 

What is your favorite aspect of the work you do every day?

Being in Las Vegas now, I love that there’s literally something I can write about every day, whether it’s a show, a movie screening, a restaurant, a spa or some big event. I’m also just a short plane ride away from Southern California, so I go back and forth often to cover things there as well. There’s never enough time to cover everything, but I make sure to typically RSVP for at least one thing a day so I can write about it later. There’s no point in living in the Entertainment Capital of the World if you’re just going to sit on your sofa at home! That’s the fun part of my job—but there’s definitely a work part too, where I’m writing, fact checking, interviewing and proof reading.

 

What is the best pitch you’ve ever received?

There was some new party bus in Las Vegas launching a tour and I got a cryptic email from a local PR firm asking when would be a good time for someone to make a delivery. I didn’t know what to expect. When the day/time came and I opened the door, there was a mime on my doorstep holding a cake. You had to eat the cake to get to the official invite inside. Not only was the whole pitch creative, it was one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had in my life!

 

What are some tips for people who want to pitch you a story?

Just like anything else, know your audience. I know I freelance for a variety of places, so I don’t mind getting last-minute press releases because you never know if I might be able to use it someplace, but a lot of the print outlets I write for are quarterly or bi-monthly. It’s always nice to receive pitches as early as possible so I can try to include them in some print publications, too.

 

The Hoyt Organization

Media Monday: An Interview with Greg Aragon

Freelancer writer for Engineering News-Record; travel blogger for “Greg’s Getaway”

This week, The Hoyt Organization talked with well-known travel blogger and freelance writer Greg Aragon about his work, his travel blog, and his opinions on modern journalism.

As a journalist who covers construction and engineering stories across California, what initially attracted you to these types of stories?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles and have spent my entire life in California, so I find it fascinating to see how the landscape changes over time. I have also always been interested in the historical aspects of city-scapes, so when I decided to get into journalism, I was naturally drawn to writing about architecture and construction.

At this point in your career, what still surprises or excites you about these stories?

To this day, I still get excited when a new building or mega-project is being built. Construction is very exciting. There are new technologies and innovations popping up every day and it’s fun to be at the forefront in learning about them.  

As a travel blogger, was there a moment in which you first decided you wanted to share your travel stories with other people?

The first time I returned from Maui, Hawaii and a friend asked me to write about it. I wrote one story and I never looked back. I have been writing a travel column called “Greg’s Getaway” for 15 years now.

What is your process for chronicling these stories? Do you take notes during the trip, or do you soak in the experience and start writing after you return home?

I do a little of both, but I’ve been doing it so long, that the experiences are just absorbed into my soul and brain and are subconsciously chronicled and written in my head, so I can dictate the story when I’m ready.

With how public policy, media and technology have changed in the last decade, how has your job as a journalist changed?

Things have changed incredibly fast! It’s hard to believe that a few years ago I used to have to go to a store to get my photos developed, wait a few hours, pick them up and then take them to my company’s art department to be put in print.

Have you had to modify your process for finding stories to adapt to these changes?

Not really. I believe a good story is always out there, you just have to want it and do a little digging.

What article you’ve written is your favorite or the one you are most proud of? Why?

I did a story a couple years ago on an army veteran, who was badly wounded in Iraq, that I still remember. While spending months recuperating at Walter Reed Medical Center, he got involved in construction. When he was finally able to leave the hospital, he took some more construction classes and kept pushing himself and soon started his own construction company, which hired other military vets and became a very successful company.

One last question for fun! What is the best book you’ve read or movie you’ve watched recently?

I am currently reading “Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck. I read it when I was in high school, but since I visited Monterey, California a couple weeks ago, I wanted to go back and re-read it. It is a great book. 

A special thank you to Greg for taking the time to tell us more about himself. Greg’s work can be found in the Engineering News-Record and other publications. For more information on his famous and long-running travel column, “Greg’s Getaway”, please check out his Facebook book page here.

 

 

The Hoyt Organization

Media Monday: An Interview with Samantha Rowan

Editor of Real Estate Finance & Investment

As the editor of one of commercial real estate’s premier trade publications, Samantha Rowan has her hands full with the day’s breaking news and analysis from some of the industry’s leading thought leaders. As the publication continues to expand its coverage, it’s maintaining its role as the go-to source for CRE’s decision makers.

THO recently spoke with Samantha for a bit more on how she arrived at REFI and her favorite part of the job:

How did you arrive in the financial journalism beat? Were you always interested in the subject?

I got into financial journalism right after college. A good friend, who I’d worked with on our college newspaper, graduated the year before me and started working at The Bond Buyer. He recommended trying financial journalism and I decided to give it a shot. I started working in Institutional Investor’s Newsletter division three months after graduation and loved it. I spent two years covering private banking before I transferred to the CMBS beat on Real Estate Finance & Investment…and I’ve been there ever since. 

What is your best piece of advice for PR professionals reaching out to REFI?

We love connecting with market professionals who can provide intelligent analysis on what’s going on. Obviously, first-day news is what we do best, but we need to provide the big picture view to our readers. 

What is your favorite aspect of the work you do every day?

I have two – meeting with sources and working with my team!

Check out Samantha’s publication, Real Estate Finance & Investment, here!

The Hoyt Organization

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