Meet the Media: Vesna Brajkovic, Managing Editor of Heavy Duty Trucking &

Vesna Brajkovic has been covering the transportation industry since 2016, including trucking, railroading, the automotive aftermarket and aviation. As managing editor of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine and, she writes trucking news and features, manages e-newsletters and social media, coordinates magazine production, and helps to develop content for events and multimedia projects.

Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?

In 2022, it’s a goal of mine to be more purposeful in seeking out and covering the diversity of the industry, and to profile people in trucking from all different backgrounds, races, genders, religions, etc. I also have a particular interest in covering legislative and regulatory issues, and that’s something I like to keep up with.

Constantly on my radar and well-received by HDT’s audience is: emerging technology, alternative fuel, and autonomous advancement.

Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.

When I covered the rail industry for Progressive Railroading, I wrote a few stories on how freight railroads use drones to survey tracks and bridges. At the time, I didn’t find a lot of industry coverage on drone usage in this application, and it was all so brand new to me. The sources I grew to know in the space weren’t fatigued by media questions yet and seemed genuinely excited to share what they know. I thought of them as incredibility smart in a down-to-earth way: eager to teach and no question felt too small. The excitement was contagious (I’m still in awe of the technology), and it was refreshing to feel like anything I learned was “new” and worth reporting. Like every reporter, I’m a sincerely curious person. Any story where I get the time and space to soak it all in is the most fun for me, and reminds me of the best part of getting to be a journalist.

Attending 2019 Railway Interchange in Minneapolis as associate editor for Progressive Railroading magazine. (Pictured with the Cummins QSK95 diesel engine)

What story or stories are you most proud of?

Heavy Duty Trucking’s October 2021 “Driver Retention: Get Shippers on your Side,” was my first cover story for HDT and I thought it was very successful in addressing major issues experienced by drivers, fleet managers and shippers. It covers many big issues in a digestible way. I think this article is one we’ll reference back to for quite some time. 

What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?

Audience relevancy, and the “human element,” and an angle that’s SEO-friendly (a nod to popular keywords and topics that are constantly ranked high on our site).

HDT has a monthly video and podcast segment on HDT Talks Trucking where the editors give insights on the top trucking news stories of the previous month. If you’re interested in what our audience cares about, what kind of topics gets clicks, and also how those things connect to bigger picture trends that we devote features to… this might be something to add to your listen/watch list.

In 2021, at the Women in Trucking annual conference as managing editor of HDT. (Pictured with a Freightliner Cascadia Sleeper)

How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?

I’ve written a story at least once a week since 2012 when I walked into the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s independent, student-run newsroom unannounced asking for an assignment. By the end of my junior year I was running the paper, and one of my stories got picked up by a local newspaper. I consider that the start of my professional career (even though I considered myself a journalist long before then). From there I went on to freelance for community newspapers around Milwaukee, and got a part-time job at a business-to-business publisher covering aviation for three sister magazines. Once I graduated, I had to make the choice: newspapers or trade pubs. It was an internal struggle deciding because I felt my heart was in community stories. Ultimately though, I decided I liked the idea of being immersed in an industry in a way only trade publications can immerse you. I haven’t looked back since. I’ve covered aviation, the automotive aftermarket, fleet maintenance, passenger and freight rail, and trucking.

Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …

Juggling editing copy for the magazine, pulling together HDT’s daily newsletters and posting on social media.

What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?

1. Have a reason. I really appreciate when pitches include a line about why it’s important that your client presents that story. I always look to answer these questions: Why/how is this person/company considered an expert or authority in this subject? How does this subject impact our readers? What is the motive behind this pitch? If you can’t help me answer these questions, likely your pitch is not for me.

2. Understand our audience: Class 8 trucking fleets, with the target being fleet executives.

3. Provide assets. A great photo or video library can go a long way in helping me tell a story and create content. If you have one, tell me! In my personal heaven, every company has a “media room” on their site with a library of downloadable, categorized, high-resolution photo options, B-roll, and logos; and a place where press releases are archived and available as Word docs. In fact, PDFs don’t even exist there!

In 2017, I was covering the unveiling of the Volvo VNL Series trucks in Greensboro, North Carolina, as assistant editor of Fleet Maintenance magazine. (Pictured with the Volvo VNL 300 daycab)

Any pet peeves with PR people?

“Just pushing this to the top of your inbox…”/ “In case you missed it…” emails. I do get A LOT of emails, but I think it’s a misconception that that must mean I don’t read them. I do. Too many follow-ups creates unnecessary inbox clutter.

I also don’t like phone calls that are in the same vein. They interrupt my workflow – my worst nightmare.

Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)

I live in Milwaukee, and have lived in the area for most of my life. I play on a soccer league two nights a week, and belong to a book club made up of former co-workers (ex-trucking and automotive journalists, and sales people). I also volunteer as a College and Career Readiness Coach with a leadership development nonprofit called PEARLS For Teen Girls, and help out at a local women’s shelter. In the summer I take perpetual golf lessons, and in the winter, I ski the Greens and Blues (who said you have to be ‘good’ at your hobbies? 😊).

You can learn more about me on this episode of HDT Talks Trucking:

Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, and connect with me on LinkedIn.

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