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The Voices of Austin: A Q&A with the Austin American-Statesman

POSTED BY prbythebook ON July 18, 2014

by Alessandra Wike, PR by the Book Intern, @alessandrawike

Austin_American_Statesman_logoThe people of Austin love to make their voices heard. From activist to musician, foodie to wine connoisseur, the voices of Austin are a force to be reckoned with. Talented, hard working and unceasingly creative, the media of Austin works to recognize the accomplishments, oddities and dreams of our unique city. PR by the Book has begun talking to Austin’s awesome local media members to find out what goes on behind the scenes at these important organizations.

Founded in 1871 as the Democratic Statesman, The Austin American-Statesman boasts a rich history and strong connection with the capitol of Texas. Focusing both on central Texas and the nation as a whole, the Austin American-Statesman continues to be a reliable, down-to-earth source of Austin news. Travel Editor and Assistant Features Editor Kristin Finan generously took time out of her schedule to talk to us about her role at the Austin American-Statesman. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation:

PRBTB: What does a typical day look like for you?

Kristin: It’s really a lot of things. Mostly a mix of meetings and editing and writing. As the Assistant Features Editor, I work with a team of four reporters and edit their work. I’m also the Travel Editor and handle the travel copy and edit travel pages. I’ll do anything from editing several stories to working on a travel story or video that I’m writing personally to attending meetings in the newsroom on initiative or strategy.

PRBTB: What part of your job gets you most excited about the day?

Kristin: I really love working with our different reporters; we have a really incredible staff. And of course, anything related to travel, I really love doing.

PRBTB: What topics do y’all cover in the travel section?

Kristin: We love to cover quick trips around Texas, to San Antonio or Dallas. We also look at destinations that Austinites are visiting internationally and domestically such as Las Vegas or New York City. There are always new events in these cities that are great to cover.

PRBTB: Before you worked at the Austin American-Statesman, what was the funniest/weirdest/most interesting job you had?

Kristin: Before working in Austin, I lived in Houston and worked at the Houston Chronicle. I started as an intern then moved to a general Features Writer, and during that time we had a big video initiative. I went on a road trip for a travel story where I wanted to do a video every day of the trip, but I realized I didn’t know anything about making video or editing! Part of trip in was in an RV, so I wound up sitting in an RV park at midnight, trying to figure out how to edit my video. After that road trip, I started a daily video blog which I did for almost two years. I really was a one-man band. A lot of the time it would just be me standing, talking to a tripod, which looked a little strange, but it was a great learning experience. I enjoyed it a lot.

PRBTB: At the Statesman, you obviously focus on Austin. What’s your favorite thing to cover about the city?

Kristin: There are always new things coming up. We cover the way Austin is changing: new trends, new openings of museums, restaurants and attractions. We also like to escape the city and look at what’s going on in the Hill Country.

PRBTB: What about you personally? What do you do love to do in Austin?

Kristin: Well, my daughters and I (I have a 5-year-old and 2-year-old), our summer activity is to try out Austin’s swimming pools. We’ve been up north and down south. We’ve also been visiting different snow cone places. Swimming-wise, Deep Eddy Pool is definitely our favorite so far (they have movie night, which is a lot of fun). We’ve been to a lot of snow cone places, but we haven’t yet visited Sno-Beach together, which is my favorite in Central Austin.

PRBTB: There’s always speculation that newspapers will go out of business, that the print industry is dying. As someone who has worked for several print publications, do you think that’s true?

Kristin: It’s definitely a combination of needing to be smart about what we do and to try new things digitally. We have a podcast now, and we pay a lot of attention to video. We just need to keep trying and offering new things on the web, while ensuring our print product is really strong. We need to focus on keeping quality everywhere.

PRBTB: What are you most proud of about the Statesman?

Kristin: It’s where I wanted to work for for a really long time. We have a staff that’s so driven and in tune with the local community. I’m constantly impressed by the ideas that everyone has and the amount of coverage that we can offer in every area. Everyone is smart about their beats, and we have amazing stories coming out.

PRBTB: What’s a piece that you’ve written/edited that you were most excited about covering?

Kristin: Most of my pieces are written for Travel. All the major Texas papers came together to work on a Mother’s Day spa story, which was really great. We each went to a spa in our area, and then wrote the story together and, in the end, all published the same piece. It was great to work with the other reporters (instead of as competitors!).

PRBTB: The Statesman covers a lot of things around town already, but if you could expand it in one way, what would you do and how would you do it?

Kristin: I would love to see the Travel Section get more advertisers. With more advertising, the section can be bigger and we can really cover more stories.

PRBTB: Do y’all have any quirky office traditions that you would like to share?

Kristin: Not really, but I do work in a fun department where good food comes through. We always have interesting and delicious food to sample. We’re very well fed!

PRBTB: How often do you get pitches from freelance writers or PR companies?

Kristin: We get a lot from both. It’s very helpfully when they know who to pitch and know the area that I cover. Especially if it’s a story unique to Austin.

PRBTB: If you could give one piece of solid advice to PR companies and freelance writers on pitching, what would it be?

Kristin: Know who you’re pitching. Read the paper and know what it is and what we do. Each publication is different, so know what we cover and what we don’t. If it’s something that we haven’t ever covered, you know we probably won’t accept the piece.



Five Successful Social Media Campaigns for Cookbooks

POSTED BY prbythebook ON July 16, 2014
Five Successful Social Media Campaigns for Cookbooks

by Rainy Schermerhorn, PR by the Book Intern, @RainySchermer Looking for a way to generate social media buzz for your upcoming cookbook? Check out these creative campaigns for some inspiration: TweetPie TweetPie, a cookbook exclusively containing 160-character “Tweet-length” recipes, was basically built for a successful social media campaign. They created their own unique hashtag (#TweetPie) […]


What is a Blog Tour?

POSTED BY prbythebook ON July 14, 2014
What is a Blog Tour?

by Alessandra Wike, PR by the Book Intern, @alessandrawike The age of the internet gives authors the opportunity to connect with thousands of people. Taking advantage of these seemingly endless possibilities, blog tours provide great publicity for a new book without the hassle (or expense!) of travel. Instead of an author traveling from bookstore to […]


Crowdfunding 101: The Who, What, When and How of Crowdfunding For Authors

POSTED BY prbythebook ON July 11, 2014
Crowdfunding 101: The Who, What, When and How of Crowdfunding For Authors

by Guest Blogger, Justine Schofield of Pubslush, @pubslush According to a recent article in Forbes, crowdfunding can “help indies support the cost of a new project by booking advanced sales for the product and selling premiums like customization. This is an efficient market funding mechanism that has the added benefit of generating advance buzz for […]



Webinar Recap: How to Get Started on Goodreads

POSTED BY prbythebook ON July 9, 2014
Webinar Recap: How to Get Started on Goodreads

by Sima Thakkar, @simocrates Having a Goodreads profile is an absolutely critical element of promoting a book, however most authors seem to overlook this useful social media platform dedicated specifically to the literary world. It’s straightforward and easy-to-use functionalities, such as hosting giveaways or running self-service ads, offers high payoff seeing that you are marketing […]



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