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Pitching Tips from Food Columnist Carolyn O’Neil

Southern food is often described as delicious, but rarely described as healthy. Until now. Atlanta-based registered dietitian and nutrition expert, Carolyn O’Neil is committed to finding ways to enjoy comfort foods without the high calorie count.  O’Neil is a weekly Columnist covering food, nutrition, healthy lifestyle, and travel for the Atlanta (GA) Journal-Constitution, and for eight years has built a following for her “Healthy Eating” column which appears in both print and online. O’Neil appears regularly on NBC Atlanta & Company as a food and nutrition healthy lifestyle expert. She is also a freelance writer for various publications including The Atlantan, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine, Cooking Light and WebMD Magazine. An established cookbook author, with her latest, The Slim Down South Cookbook, O’Neil and Southern Living offer ways to maintain a balanced diet while enjoying some southern decadence. So how do you pitch this established food columnist and freelancer? Read on to find out.

How do you prefer to receive pitches?

I prefer to receive pitches via email with links provided to associated content and facts. If I’m interested I will respond via email and the process can begin!

What kind of information do you prefer to receive?

Depends on the story really. If it’s science based, I like links to research studies and bio of researchers. If it’s food product based, I really do prioritize food companies who employ registered dietitians in product development and communications because I trust them. If it’s travel destination based, I love to see photos and hear about consumer travel trends related to the destination.

What will catch your attention?

Information tied to new surveys, research or consumer research.

Do you have any advice for PR professionals?

Goes without saying, know your topic area and a bit about other ‘like’ companies that might also be doing pitching at the same time to prevent ‘same pitch overload’. And don’t think that non-GMO is always a positive thing to spin. Science and agriculture journalists are ready for nuances, not the ‘no-zone’.

Do you use social media like Twitter or Facebook to gather leads and story ideas? Can you be pitched via these channels?

I do use social media channels, especially if it’s a trending news topic such as a food born illness outbreak. And I use them for research. For instance, if I want to know more about Scottish salmon or Scotch whiskey I’ll locate social media links to connect directly with companies or tourism boards.

The Cision Media Research Team maintains a database of more than 1.6 million records, including social influencers, traditional media contacts, outlets and opportunities. We collect and maintain the latest contact and pitching information of bloggers and journalists who can spread your message, broaden your campaign and help you build relationships with the people who matter.  To experience the Cision Media Database first hand, request a demo here

About Niki Madison

Niki Madison writes daily updates and features for the Cision blog. She is a media researcher at Cision, specializing in print media with a focus on newspapers. She is a freelance graphic designer, enjoys dancing feverishly to live music, the fashion and pop culture of the 1980s and 1990s, and is a sucker for cat memes. Follow her on Twitter @nikimadison1.

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