Covering Business in The Couve with Allan Brettman
Allan Brettman has been working at newspapers in Portland and SW Washington for more than 30 years. Hailing originally from the Chicago area, he was drawn to the Northwest by its abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities, or as Allan says, “for the same reasons you’d choose a summer camp.”
He began his local newspaper career with the Longview Daily News and then in 2000, joined The Oregonian as the business news reporter in the paper’s Clark County bureau. During his 17-year career with The O, Allan also covered the region’s sports business, digital media and PR industries. Last September, Allan returned to covering SW Washington news as business editor for The Columbian.
During this episode of the PR Talk podcast, Allan and host Amy Rosenberg talk about his time at The O, Vancouver’s status as an up-and-coming area, and a few tips for getting coverage in Vancouver’s hometown paper.
Creating a Digital First News Organization
Amy begins her interview by quoting Therese Bottomly — editor at The Oregonian/OregonLive — who credits Allan with helping The O pivot to become a digital-first news organization. Allan politely deferred, saying it was a team effort that included other O influencers like Steve Woodward, Mike Rogoway, and breaking news editor Karly Imus.
The structural challenges facing the newspaper industry are great, and a shift of that magnitude required lots of experimentation with all the available tools in the digital toolbox, while at the same time, remaining true to traditional news values. Allan said it helped that he was covering the digital landscape at the time and had developed some familiarity with the topic.
Things are a bit different at his new home at The Columbian. The print product is still healthy and the paper is working on growing its digital footprint.
Allan was hired as business editor in September 2018 and manages one other dedicated business reporter. Together they cover a growing region that has changed immeasurably since Allan last had the Clark County business beat back in 2000.
The waterfront is currently being redeveloped to include public spaces, restaurants, luxury hotels and condominiums, and other mixed-used offerings. When it’s completed, the area will rival any of Portland’s new neighborhoods. Vancouver also features a growing tech center and a thriving real estate market.
Searching for Good, Local Stories
All that growth means there are lots of potential stories to tell, and Allan, and business reporter Anthony Macuk, are always looking for pitches. As Allan tells Amy, if a story has a Clark County or Vancouver angle, and has some news value, the pitch will definitely be considered.
One story Allan thinks is going untold is about the 60,000 people who go from Clark County to Portland every day for work. He thinks there are more stories to be written about Portland companies through the eyes of their Clark County employees.
PR pros with local business-centered pitches can reach out to Allan by email at [email protected]. Anthony Macuk covers everything, but specializes in hi-tech and real estate development. He can be reached at [email protected].
General story ideas can be directed to metro editor Mark Bowder at [email protected]. He’ll know how to divvy out stories to the right Columbian reporters. Sports pitches can go to sports editor, Micah Rice at [email protected]. Amy Libby is digital editor and can be reached at [email protected].
Tips for a Good Pitch
Now before you go lighting up all those email addresses, Allan shared a few of tips he’d like PR pros to consider before contacting a Columbian reporter.
- Ideally, PR pros will have a relationship with a reporter, know the kinds of stories they’re looking for and reach out directly with a pitch. If that’s not the case, try contacting an editor first. Do not shop a story around to multiple reporters.
- People can feel free to email or phone Allan with story ideas but he wants them to put some thought into their pitches first. So write it all down before you pick up the phone.
- If you email your pitch first, Allan would appreciate a courtesy phone call with a heads-up. One of his biggest news stories of the year came through this way.
- It’s also important that your news releases are 100% accurate, especially with name spellings.
- And of course, Alan recommends getting a Columbian subscription so you can get familiar with the publication to know exactly what stories they cover.
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Allan and Amy talked about much more during their conversation, including his favorite stories during his time at the Oregonian, the biggest business news to hit Vancouver in years, and his PR pro pet peeves.
About the guest: Allan Brettman
Allan Brettman is a detail-focused journalist with creative edge recognized for developing, honing and delivering inventive, quality content, strengthening brand and engaging diverse audiences. He is currently the Business Editor at The Columbian and spent 17 years at The Oregonian after 12 years at The Daily News in Longview, Washington.
Connect and follow Allan on social media:
This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon
Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.
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