We here at Solomon McCown are a curious bunch and we take every opportunity to learn. It’s why SM& leadership created our Brown Bag Lunches, in which we invite a reporter, editor, or other media expert to come in for an informal conversation about his or her work and the role of a public relations professional in it.

We were recently joined by Esther Shein, a freelance journalist who focuses on the technology, education, and business sectors. A journalist who formerly wrote for community newspapers (and covered our own Helene Solomon during her run for the Boston City Council), Shein’s work now appears in CMO.com, the Boston Globe, and Scholastic Administrator, among other publications.

Our conversation was wide-ranging and informative for all. Some of our takeaways:

Freelance journalism is all about relationships: Shein’s long and diverse career means she has connections in myriad publications. She estimates that 70 percent of her work comes from editors approaching her to cover a story versus only 30 percent of her work coming from proactive pitches on her part.

Pitches are always welcome: Shein says PR professionals often forget about freelance reporters when pitching. Pitches are welcome, she said, as long as they aren’t rife with grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and have a fresh angle for her to report. It’s also highly likely she’ll report on a story if a PR pro includes the names and titles of customers, users, or others willing to go on the record about a subject.

But give right of first refusal: Shein asked that she get right of first refusal before you pitch the same angle to multiple outlets. It makes her life more difficult if an in-house reporter has already been working the story when you come to her.

Editors want her to Tweet: Shein admitted she’d like to use Twitter as more of a newsgathering tool. She joined the network because her editors asked her to share her pieces on social media. A great reminder that a media placement is often the first step to getting your story out there.

Shein also left us with some recommended reading: 25 Things Journalists Think You Should Stop Doing Right Now.

Thanks so much for your time, Esther!