Telum Talks To… Simon Holt, Editor-in-Chief, Brisbane Times

Mon, May 02 2016


Telum Talks To… Simon Holt, Editor-in-Chief, Brisbane Times


Can you tell us about “101 ways to connect with modern newsrooms”?
The book is a journey into the heads of journalists and editors, how they make decisions in a fast-moving environment, and the things which influence the way they do their work, both inside and outside the newsroom.

Understanding how a journalist works and what they need goes a long way towards creating the perfect pitch, or at least improves the chances of having an idea published. So I've tried to break things down, offer up formulas, and suggest processes which will help meet the demands of modern audiences.

What was it that made you realise this book was necessary for PRs in Australia? 
Two years ago, I wrote a university course about Innovation in Modern Newsrooms. It was for journalism students, and it was designed to help lecturers and academics keep pace with ways the news cycle meets the demands of contemporary audiences. It was then that I thought PRs might face similar challenges.

Without being rude, some of the press releases we receive are evidence of that. I live and breathe newsroom change, and I find it difficult to keep up. So how is it that someone who has been out of the newsroom for a year or more will keep up? It's nigh impossible.

Journalists are more than happy to collaborate when it comes to new storytelling techniques, new platforms and new audiences. But they need to be sure there is a deep level of understanding from those they are working with. This book helps get the basics right. 

What would be your top three tips for PRs trying to connect with the newsroom? 
1. Re-invent the press release. A generic 600-word block of text won't grab anybody's attention anymore.
2. Find "The Thing" which will grab a journalist's attention. Modern reporters are taught that they have about three seconds to grab the attention of readers. Journalists get more than 300 emails a day, so you've got about the same three second timeframe to grab theirs.
3. Know the audience, and tailor the pitch to the audience. 

Is having a background in journalism a major advantage for a PR? 
It helps, but I don't think it's imperative. It's far more important to understand audiences, what they read and watch, how they consume news, and the psychology behind those decisions. An understanding of human behaviour, and thought patterns and processes, is critical. So maybe a psychology degree is more important these days. 

Can we expect to receive any more book releases from you in the next few years? 
I hope so. I'll wipe the sweat from my brow first. I'd like to do a similar thing for the real estate community, and perhaps small business. First though, we've got some exciting projects on the horizon at Fairfax Media that I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into. 

Where do you get your news from? 
I'm a compulsive consumer. Television, radio, digital, the next door neighbour, TED Talks, blogs, I don't care where it comes from - I have a burning desire to know what's going on. 

Favourite blog or online influencer?
I'm not sure there's a particular influencer I go to. Rather, I think to have a true understanding of futurism, or what I recently heard described as "now-ism", it is best to consume a broad collection of thoughts. My main goal is to innovate to a point we're the best we can be on the platforms available to us. There is no "best answer", nor is there a perfect news site. I like to look at what everybody is doing, take the best bits, and see what I can achieve within the limitations I have - internally, externally, and personally.

If you'd like to pre-order a copy of  “101 ways to connect with modern newsrooms” get in contact with Simon at and mention Telum Media to receive free postage.



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