Meet Annie Zak, PSBJ Healthcare Reporter

Nandi Butcher / November 19, 2014

A. ZakAnnie Zak is the new health care reporter for the Puget Sound Business Journal (PSBJ). In September, she replaced Valerie Bauman, who moved on to a reporting position at Newsday in New York.

Annie stopped by The Fearey Group offices recently to meet our team and share a bit about her background and her work.

Annie is not entirely new to the Pacific Northwest, having completed an internship at Portland’s alternative newspaper, Willamette Week.

Prior to joining the PSBJ, Annie was in Southern California reporting for the Los Angeles/Orange County Register. Before that, she earned a master’s degree at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she focused on investigative reporting. She also has a bachelor’s degree from Knox College in Illinois.

So what is it like being the new health care reporter for the PSBJ? Annie says it is quite different from her previous position as a general assignment reporter. That said, two months into the job, she is hitting her stride. Annie has made a point of meeting as many people in the health and life sciences community as she can.

What many people don’t know is that Annie writes two or three stories EVERY DAY and spends much of her afternoon planning for the next day’s news.

She says that while she enjoys the diversity of subjects she covers each day, her passion is pursuing more in-depth stories that take time to develop. She also has a keen interest in life sciences. Good news for her – there is no shortage of biotech and biomedical companies in the area.

So you might be wondering: why publish so many stories each day? The answer: digital is king. The PSBJ  has increasingly emphasized online news content, which requires frequent updating. But the weekly print edition, delivered each Friday, remains vital as well.

Other than sharing a little from the inside, Annie offered a few tips for PR pros and the organizations that we support:

  • Know your audience. Too often we receive pitches that are irrelevant for this market and our readers.
  • Always be thinking about the headline when you pitch a story. Would it motivate you to click on a story?
  • Simplify, simplify, simplify. What good is a story so mired in jargon and technical speak as to be incomprehensible to the average reader?
  • Studies can often be a hard sell for readers; on the other hand, news about the latest startup launch or research breakthrough tends to draw attention.
  • No surprise, controversy attracts interest, whether it’s controversy over mergers and acquisitions or competition between institutions.
  • Email remains the best way to reach reporters, but don’t overlook Twitter DMs or texting once a relationship is established. And sometimes it’s an old-fashioned phone call that does the trick.
  • Keep reporters’ daily and weekly deadlines in mind before you reach out. Timing is everything.

Thanks to Annie for stopping by The Fearey Group. And a big welcome to Seattle!

Nandi Butcher GIF

Nandi Butcher

Senior Consultant

Nandi brings more than a decade of experience working with government, non-profit and for-profit health care organizations. She specializes in brand development, integrated marketing communications and community engagement for the organization’s ever-expanding roster of clients. She is a big fan of running, chocolate, smart conversations and a good laugh.