Jennifer Wang – Business Reporter, The Orange County Register
California’s Orange County has offered a plethora of media institutions and pop culture iconography, including pop band No Doubt, the seminal troupe of Real Housewives, that FOX teen dramedy that was trying to be 90210, MTV’s foray into high school reality television and a certain cartoon mouse. However, one of the state’s highest circulating newspapers also calls ‘The OC’ home, and after almost a year-long continuing blitz of expansion and hiring, The Orange County Register has beefed up its business coverage as well, and brought in newspaper world newbieJennifer Wang in July 2013 to headline the paper’s retail reporting.
Though Wang is new to the newspaper milieu, she spent the last five years covering start-ups atEntrepreneur and got her start in journalism at theLong Beach Business Journal. So California business is a topic this English and economics double major from Duke University is readily prepared for. “My whole focus [at Entrepreneur] was on finding interesting people and stories that were inspirational and finding new ideas,” she said.
Just as any business contends with shifting market forces and consumer loyalties, Wang too is contending with the shift from magazine to newspaper journalism, though she is encouraged by the energy of the revived Register and its affable editorial staff. She is most looking forward to the freedom of her new post.
“I’m coming from a place where the stories had to fit in this or that department. It had to fit a particular formula. There were a lot of cool ideas I was unable to write about because it just wasn’t a right fit. But here, I can make a good case for something interesting in retail which is a really big part of the lifestyle in Orange County,” she explained.
Wang’s specific plans for retail coverage include “lifestyle trend pieces, places that drive fashion, companies that have changed the way people dress. What do people spend their hard-earned money on? I’d like to find those interesting stories of people who have started great opportunities and retail trends. I can’t help but want to find cool consumer companies.”
While the Register’s coverage of any beat is as locally focused as a sound business model, Wang also is cognizant of the societal implications, a perspective she credits to her time at Entrepreneur.
“These stories aren’t just about Orange County businesses and retail, what people want and how they live. It helps remind me it’s about more than just the region, but about things that impact everyone. I want to find the newest and the coolest, and tell stories that haven’t been told, and bring out what drives people,” she said.
Business reporting can at times be inaccessible to those outside of the financial or corporate world, perhaps even to those in it. Yet Wang learned early on that she had a talent for accessible business writing.
“In terms of reporting, it is important to look at the bigger picture. What does this business trend represent? What does it matter to the world at large that doesn’t care about business? If you can include a genuine human interest, I think that always makes it more interesting. That makes it more readable,” she said.
With her diversity of experience and recent stories on local startup Supra Footwear and a new TOMS shoe designed by an Orange County teen, Wang clearly emulates her advice for aspiring journalists: “Have a body of work that speaks for itself.”
Wang is open to receiving pitches from PR professionals relevant to Orange County-area businesses and email is always the best avenue.
“I save everything, and if a story comes up I do a keyword search. Email is the best way for me to remember you, because when I do get a topic and I’m looking for experts, I check who has emailed me in the past. I want that information, but I want an email so I remember you. If it’s an interesting story, I will definitely follow up.”
For this reason, Wang prefers PR professionals do not follow up via email or call. She doesn’t particularly mind PR contact, though she cannot respond to all pitches.
“If I’m not responding, I’ve seen it. If I just don’t answer, it’s honestly because it just doesn’t fit, or I’m thinking about it. So just hold off. You can keep checking back and you can continue to send those emails, I actually don’t mind. But don’t send me the email and say ‘did you look at it? Have you found it?'” She assures that the email system is still working.
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