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Shanelle Rein-Olowokere, Associate Style Editor, Celebrity Baby Blog at People.com

With a career spent almost entirely working for print magazines, Shanelle Rein-Olowokere took on a new challenge with her September 2009 promotion to the associate style editor for People.com’s Celebrity Baby Blog.

Her desire to branch out into online journalism, she said, wasn’t so much about the instability of print, but more about keeping herself current.

“I think I’m just starting to be at that place in my career where I need to know what the future is about and make sure I’m in it. Especially with all this stuff going on in the industry,” she said.

She continued, “I just felt that especially being an older person, I wanted to be able to say at some point in my career that I had made that transition and I didn’t make it [so far down the line] that it would be harder for me to understand things.”

Taking on the challenge shouldn’t be hard for Rein-Olowokere. She has a diverse background in law, marketing, communications and public relations, so “new” is synonymous with “exciting” for her.

“What they want to do is get the Celebrity Baby Blog in sync with People Style Watch online so they have the same kind of coverage and same mentality,” she said. “Overall I’m here to hone in and organize the style part of the blog.”

She explained that the news side of People.com is very strong and on-point, with readers getting very involved.One of her goals is to get readers more involved in the style side. Since previous coverage included a lot of product reviews and not enough style news or trends, she’s looking to bring that aspect to the forefront.

“I want to add more newsy items, make it more for the style-conscious parent,” she said. “I like anything that’s sort of informational and I can give people real tips, real things that they can put their hands around…to show what works for them and why.”

She also wants to give the style section a sleeker look and feel overall.

“There’s a focus to make everything seamless in terms of the different channels that they have,” she said. “Making sure everything is together and everybody is working as one.”

She admits a challenge lies ahead.

“It’s been hard, but not hard in the sense that I can’t do it but hard in the sense of getting used to the different pace of day-to-day,” she explained. “I’ve mostly been at monthlies and when you develop stories at a monthly, you have weeks to figure it out, but here you don’t. I like that a lot, but it’s also taking time to get used to.”

Before joining the dot com side of People, she spent a few years as a staff writer for People’s Style Watch print edition. She got her start in style and fashion journalism while working at InStyle. From there, she moved to Entertainment Weekly as an associate editor and got her first glimpse into Web journalism writing recaps online for Project Runway, along with her work on the print side.

“It was just my toe in [to the online world] I had no idea how extensive it could be.”

Rein-Olowokere continues to embrace the changes and enjoys the online world. Whether it’s working in Word Press, learning HTML language, seeing the ins and outs of how a Web site works, or learning how to garner more traffic to their site, she finds it fascinating and very interesting.

Pitching Tips

Rein-Olowokere is looking primarily for anything related to kids’ fashion, children’s or baby gear, maternity stuff for the mothers, as well as any trends that people see popping up.

“If there’s a new baby line or a new kid’s line that is out there or a new product that’s great let me know,” she said. “It doesn’t [always] have to have celeb fans or a celebrity angle.”

She’s also looking to broaden coverage of babies and style and is open to stories beyond fashion.

“Lifestyle stories are great too; I’m very interested in that,” she said. “As long as it pertains to kids, babies and moms, I’m fine with it.”

Rein-Olowokere said getting straight to the point when pitching is a good way to grab her attention. Though she doesn’t mind press releases, she emphasizes that people take a look at the site and the kind of work she’s previously done before contacting her. New ideas outside of the realm of what’s been covered are welcome.

Based on her experience in PR, she understands the need to send things quickly and to as many people as possible. But it’s key to really consider what’s being sent and tailoring information as much as possible. When something is a really great fit for a specific section, it’s important to mention why. It’s what helped her develop successful contacts and relationships when she was in PR.

She also mentioned that, like most Web sites, they don’t photograph anything, so she needs images sent with pitches.

“So the more art you can provide the better,” she said. “And the prettier or more stunning images are even better. Those I respond to right away.”

If images aren’t available immediately, then mention when they will be available.

Rein-Olowokere prefers to be contacted by e-mail but added, “Now that I’m in a much faster paced situation, I feel like people get upset if I don’t get back to them right way. So sending me another e-mail a day later is not going to help. I always answer e-mail; even if it’s something I don’t think will work I will let you know. If somebody wants to check in with me a week later because I haven’t responded that’s totally fine, just not the day after.”

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