Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Interview with Sandi Smith: Author, Pilot, Speaker

Sandi Smith is pretty amazing! She's the sixth American female and the 15th or so female in the world to co-pilot a single-engine airplane around the world. In 1995, she and Jay Merten, M.D. took his six-seat Piper Malibu prop to five continents and 20 destinations in 86 days.

She has written eight books, including Following Amelia: A Modern Day 'Round-the-World Flight. Her writing has won awards and has been published internationally. A CPA, Sandi holds an MBA in Management Information Systems. She is currently finishing a Masters of Science in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience.

Sandi took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her views of the news media.

Q: Sandi, you’ve had a lot of different experiences, from flying around the world to studying how the brain works. Did you seek media attention or did it just come as a result of what you were doing?

Sandi: Both. Sometimes as a result of a client contact, one of my books, or from being a member of a professional association or committee, the press called me. Most of the time, I sought news coverage through press releases or advertising.

Q: What have been your most positive news media experiences?

Sandi: My most positive news media experience was when I owned a photography studio in the 1980's. I specialized in portraits of people's pets. An editor ran my samples in the New Products section of the magazine insert that comes with the Sunday paper. From that one exposure, I got four months worth of business. It literally launched my business.

Q: What was your most disappointing media experience?

Sandi: My least positive experience was recently with PR Newswire. I spent a lot of money sending press releases about wanting to help expose children to aviation programs and no one picked up the releases.

Q: What lessons have you learned about dealing with journalists?

Sandi: I think two main lessons: Be very careful -- discrete yet helpful -- about what you say: EVERYTHING is on the record. And I feel that you really need a huge hook to get picked up these days. So my lesson is to work hard on my hook.

Q: Will you continue to seek publicity as a strategy to let the public know about the projects you are working on?

Sandi: I will be selective in what I seek publicity on in the future. I hope to do some nonprofit children's work that should be amenable to press. Also some of my brain research should be interesting to the press.

Q: Thanks, Sandi, for your time and wisdom. I'd like to encourage readers to take a look at your website.

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