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Meet Nicole Pajer and Jill Schildhouse. We’re two journalists at the top of our game on a mission to help you get to yours. As seasoned freelance writers, copywriters, reporters and editors, we’ve experienced it all, working with countless publicists along the way. We each receive hundreds of pitches a day, which means we know exactly what writers and editors are looking for — and we’re here to help you tap into that winning formula.
With a combined 37 years in the industry, we’ve been drawing upon our vast background in the media world, individually offering 1:1 coaching sessions, speaking on panels and delivering talks at universities and agencies, receiving rave reviews along the way. We both deeply value the relationships we’ve built with publicists over the years and thoroughly enjoy helping guide them to the next level. That’s why we are so excited to put our heads together to make our strategy sessions even more beneficial to publicists as a powerhouse consulting duo. Welcome to Top Tier Consulting.*
Jill Schildhouse is an award-winning writer and editor who has spent 22 years in print and digital publishing. She held such on-staff roles as editor-in-chief of AAA’s Arizona club and travel magazine, manager of marketing communications for CVS Health, and manager of internal communications for Apollo Education Group before transitioning to full-time freelancing in 2017. Current responsibilities include serving as Editor-at-Large for Trusted Media Brands (including Reader’s Digest, Taste of Home and Family Handyman) and Updates Editor for Dotdash Meredith’s Verywell. Jill regularly contributes to Travel + Leisure, TripSavvy, Brides, Fodors, Insider, Southern Living, Clean Eating, and many Hearst publications, including Oprah Daily, Esquire, Cosmo, Popular Mechanics, Women’s Health, Men’s Health, Good Housekeeping, and House Beautiful.
Jill has provided content marketing services — from ghostwriting and email drip campaigns to profiles and blogs — to a variety of brands over the years, including Adler University, The Rich Dad Company, Plexus, DekaLash, Amazing Lash Studio, Hapbee and more.
Known as The Global Glutton to her Instagram audience of 17k, Jill has traveled to 36 countries and is always planning her next adventure. Some of her favorite experiences include making pasta and gelato in Italy, snorkeling in Fiji, cruising the fjords of Norway and Alaska, and spending St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland with her father. Jill lives in Phoenix with her fiance and their toy schnauzer.
Nicole Pajer is an award-winning freelance journalist in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, AARP, Rolling Stone, Parade, Woman’s Day, People, Glamour, Self, Wired, United Hemispheres Magazine, Men’s Journal, Billboard, Men’s Fitness, DuJour, Emmy Magazine, Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Playboy, The Red Bulletin, Green Builder Magazine, Cesar’s Way, Mental Floss, The Hollywood Reporter, American Songwriter, The LA Times, Whole Life Times, Refinery 29 and more. She has done on-camera interviews and served as a red carpet reporter, covering award shows, charity galas and premieres for everyone from MTV News to VH1, TV Guide, Grammy.com, Yahoo, UsWeekly, AOL, and Screen Rant, having interviewed everyone from George Clooney to Taylor Swift, and beyond.
Nicole also does copywriting and content marketing for clients including Amazon, Honda, NBC, Universal Music Group, AAA, Chewy, Cue Health, InBrace, Annenberg Wallis Petspace, Lifetime, Brookdale, Britely, Red Bull Media House, Volvo, Headspace, Gentherm, Virtuoso Life and Volvo.
When she’s not writing, Nicole keeps busy by checking exotic travel destinations off of her bucket list, attempting to wear out her 71-pound Doberman’s boundless energy, perfecting her rat terrier’s breakdancing skills and teaching people how to properly pronounce her last name (“It’s ‘Pager,’ just like the beeper guys!”).
We offer a variety of consulting packages. Contact us via the form below for more details on each engagement.
All Your Questions Answered Session
Have a bunch of questions you’ve been dying to ask two top-tier journalists? Here’s your chance to learn about what goes on behind the scenes. Book a panel with us and prepare your list. You’ll walk away with all of your questions answered, plus we’ll sprinkle in our best practices throughout the session to help give you (and your clients!) an edge in this highly competitive media landscape.
Pitch Perfecting Strategy Session
Ready to take your pitches to the next level? Or are you wondering why certain pitches aren’t getting much response? Learn how to take your emails from, “Here’s a client I represent,” to “Here’s a story idea you can’t possibly turn down.” Between the two of us, we receive thousands of pitches per week, so we have many tips — and examples — of what works and what doesn’t. From coming up with the perfect email subject line to improve your open rates to sealing the deal with your closing remarks, your word choices matter throughout the entire pitch. We’ll help you perfect them.
Become a Journalist’s BFF: Networking and Relationship Management Session
Some publicists seem to have a transactional “wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am” approach to their work, but highly successful publicists know that building long-term relationships with journalists is truly the gift that keeps on giving. Learn how to meet new journalists, and discover best practices for staying in touch, following up, and creating meaningful relationships. You’ll also discover how to become a writer’s go-to source, how to stand out when answering a writer’s call for sources (whether that’s on HARO, a FB group, Twitter, or Substack), how to avoid common writer pet peeves and more.
Press Package 101 Session
Looking to mail out samples of your clients’ products in hopes of landing coverage? Great, but there’s a list of things you should know before dropping them off at the post office — things like planning, packaging, and communications will make all the difference in your ROI. We’ll help you make your packages more enticing, while actually saving your clients money in the process. And we’ll discuss how to target the right audiences, how to handle post-delivery follow-ups, and more.
Press Trips Invites and Itineraries Session
The two most important aspects to pulling off a successful press trip is nailing your invites and itineraries. First, we’ll dive into journalist targeting and invitation etiquette do’s and don’ts. Then, you’ll learn how to build a press trip itinerary that will actually land you coverage. We’ll focus on striking the perfect blend between offering media the chance to experience a destination, while zeroing in on quality and unique experiences that can lead to coverage — and help you find that elusive balance between keeping writers entertained vs. not overbooking them.
Hosting the Perfect Virtual and/or In-Person Media Event Session
Events are efficient ways to connect with a lot of media in one setting. During these sessions, you’ll learn the ins and outs of how to create a media event that journalists will A) Want to attend B) Will stay engaged at C) Will work into coverage. We’ll teach you how to target the ideal attendees who are there for article ideas and not just the free swag. We’ll talk venues, guest lists, and what to say in your presentation, plus how to coach your clients to interact with media at events in the most beneficial way.
Your Custom Session
The above options are just a sample of topics, based on questions we get asked about most frequently. But if you have something you’d love to discuss that you don’t see on the list, we’re happy to create a custom session around it. Let’s dive deeper!
What Our Clients Are Saying
“Talk about a smart investment — workshopping pitches continues to pay off! The learnings are evergreen and have given me and my team more confidence in how we approach media across the board.”
“If you haven’t signed up yet, from one publicist to another, I strongly recommend you do. We took so much away that we’ve already put into action and have seen great reporter response!”
“I can’t tell you how amazing today was. You are a wealth of knowledge and cannot thank you enough! I hope more agencies take advantage of these sessions with you. EVERYONE needs to book time with you :)”
“My strategy session was insanely valuable. I received critical feedback on a media pitch that wasn’t getting any traction, including feedback on my pitch, the product itself, new story angles, and even publishing verticals I hadn’t even thought of.”
“Wow, my session was both humbling and extraordinary. You quickly, expertly and with warm candor helped me understand what a journalist really needs to build a story. Great pointers and explained the “why” behind recommendations. PR professionals should make a session a course requirement — we would do better work and journalists would get the pitches they can actually use.”
“We can’t wait to start using these techniques! Highly recommend!”
“I can’t say enough wonderful things about our experience. We talked about everything from email subject line and the information in the body of an email, appropriate followup methods, to the way editors assign stories, and the importance of affiliate platforms. The insight was invaluable. We plan to make this a regular activity!”
“Everyone really enjoyed it and learned so much. Hearing this info directly from a writer is so helpful, and really gave the team the inspiration they needed to get creative!”
“Incredibly helpful and informative! Our whole team left feeling so informed and excited to utilize some of the tips and recommendations.”
“Your expertise provided tremendous insight and we all came away with new ideas to help us better serve clients.”
To get started, fill out the form below and let us know what piques your interest. We’ll respond with more details, including session length and pricing.
*Note: Our consulting sessions are strictly educational and booking one has no bearing on landing coverage in any of our outlets. Our role is to finetune your approach and tactics so that you can apply these learnings when pitching other journalists.