By Marina Rutter
How do you get your client featured in the New York Times? In her seven years in a public relations career, Neda Veselinovic, communications manager at Motorola Solutions, has already led press trips abroad, managed healthcare communications during a global pandemic, and helped her clients get featured in major news outlets. When reaching out to the press, Veselinovic focuses on telling a clear and concise story and building relationships, which helps get the story published.
Veselinovic has worked across industries, including travel, hospitality, healthcare, and now technology. After graduating from DePaul University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising, Veselinovic worked at an independent PR agency, Orly Telisman Public Relations. Being a part of a small team, there was no task too big or too small. During this time Veselinovic secured numerous local media placements, notably NBC Chicago, WGN-AM and WGN-TV. She also learned directly from a successful PR professional and former journalist and TV reporter, Orly Telisman. One of the key takeaways she learned that guided her throughout her PR career was “to always think about the story you are trying to tell.” As Veselinovic explained, “if a public relations professional drafts a pitch or reaches out to the media, he or she needs to know what the main story is.”
One of the many proudest moments in Veselinovic’s career came from working at Zapwater Communications. Being in charge of the National Tourism Organization of Serbia account, Veselinovic led the first US press trip to her homeland, Serbia. The press trip garnered a lot of top-tier press from publications like Travel and Leisure and Conde Nast. “One of my proudest was the hardest of all,” says Veselinovic. “We were able to place Belgrade, Serbia in the top 52 places to travel in the New York Times in 2018. The list comes out every January and it’s a very difficult list to get onto.”
In 2019 Veselinovic moved in-house to Advocate Health Care as the Public Affairs & Marketing Coordinator. When COVID-19 was first introduced in January of 2020, a local CBS station reached out to Advocate Health Care to learn about COVID-19. Veselinovic and her team quickly found an expert and began monitoring media coverage on the evolving topic. “We saw that this was going to be a continuous and important topic in the news that required expertise from an infectious diseases doctor who could bring a sense of calm in the chaos.” From that moment, Advocate Health Care was consistently garnering media interest and interviews and connecting internal experts with journalists covering COVID-19.
PR professionals should be aware of possible rejection. It’s a part of the job. “Sometimes you put together a relevant and concise pitch, but alas, you hear crickets,” says Veselinovic. “I would say that’s the biggest disappointment in the work that we do, but sometimes the stars don’t align until later.” Even if you’ve drafted a great pitch, and sent several follow ups to the reporters, the timing may not be right.
To avoid this happening more than necessary, PR professionals should follow these steps:
- Find a small part – the story – that could garner interest for an outlet or reporter
- Make it simple and easy to understand by removing the marketing language or jargon
- Make the message personal and customize it specifically for the reporter, also making sure they are the right target for your pitch
- When following up, give two or three days from the initial message and provide more information and a call to action
“PR is definitely earned and it’s very difficult, which can even be off-putting. But I think that’s why it is so much more rewarding when you have that placement,” says Veselinovic.
Veselinovic was brought on the Motorola Solutions team in the summer of 2021 to help position the company as an enterprise technology provider across verticals like education, healthcare, hospitality, oil, mining, and manufacturing. To succeed in her role, Veselinovic begins her day with reading trade outlets in technology, finance and other publications. “Since the technology industry is still new to me,” says Veselinovic, “I’m dedicating more time to familiarizing myself with the outlets and reporters. I want to see what kind of stories they’re telling, so that I can start to develop those relationships.”
Now that Veselinovic is in the new role, she continues growing professionally and building her skills, focusing on storytelling, garnering media placements, and enjoys seeing that come to fruition. She has taken all the lessons she has learned from the leaders and colleagues who she has worked with. “Every place I worked and every team I was a part of, my colleagues played a role in who I am today and where I am today,” says Veselinovic.