Tonya Garcia, business editor at the website MadameNoire.com, held a press conference at City College of New York’s Shepard Hall on March 6 to talk to students about what it takes to become a successful journalist and publicist.
Garcia, 36, gave insightful tips based on her experience at the public relations firm MSL Group, where she was a senior account executive prior before working at MadameNoire.
Even though she admits that she doesn’t enjoy public relations as much as journalism, she appreciates the practice. “Good publicists are fantastic,” said Garcia. “Good publicists know a good story when they see it. They are fun, they’re smart because they read everything and they become really knowledgeable about the topics that they’re working on.”
She also expressed her distaste for bad pitch stories and gave tips on how to make one stand out. “If you don’t even pay attention to my name, then I question how good you are,” said Garcia. “You should know the name of the site, and you should have the basics down.” Some of these include having a good subject line, quickly making your point, and explaining what sets you apart from the other pitches.
As the press conference came to an end, Garcia gave a few words of advice to the students. “I had a journalism professor who said good writers are good readers,” explained Garcia. “Everything that you have to do you’re going to need to write and if you read a lot it’ll make you a better writer.”
She also stressed the importance of having good ideas and confidence. “If you waver, everyone around you will waver too,” she said, “and then they will lose confidence in you. So you just have to be confident in yourself.”