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Audrey LaForest is a reporter at Plastics News, where she covers the automotive and machinery beats.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
Since the passing of the new U.S. tax law back in December, I’ve been really interested in whether companies — for me, that means plastics processors — are actually planning to buy equipment as a direct result of the immediate 100 percent depreciation for capital investments. Back in January, many companies told me it was still too early to gauge the full impact of the tax law. More recently, companies are saying they’re optimistic, but haven’t had customers specifically citing the tax law as the sole incentive behind any recent investments.
It’s also a really exciting time to cover the automotive industry. Plastics continue to play a significant role on vehicle interiors and exteriors. And when big automakers like General Motors Co. announce an industry first that has a plastics angle — the carbon fiber pickup bed, for example — it makes my job a lot more fun.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
I can’t say there is one story in particular that has been the craziest or most fun — although, ask me again tomorrow and that could change — but one of the aspects of journalism that excites me the most is how it opens the door to so many different kinds of people.
In under a decade, I have spoken with small business owners, CEOs of large corporations, a former major league baseball coach, a Hollywood actress, a French luxury fashion designer, a handful of doctors and researchers, Olympic gold medal winners and so many more. I am always incredibly humbled and appreciative when people let me into their lives and share their stories with me.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
The ones that were written in an hour and the ones that were written after weeks of reporting. Both stories require a different writing and reporting process, and give me a rush of adrenaline and relief when filed by deadline.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
Relevance to either of my beats, how timely the news is, so I can determine whether it needs to be reported on immediately or if I have time to really dig in and explore — maybe as a larger trend piece or a blog — the impact the news has on our readers and the industry, whether we’ve written about the topic or company before, etc.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I’ve been working full time in journalism since 2013, but I like to think my first day on the job really started around 2008 when my Wayne State University professor for a news reporting class gave me the president’s office beat.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Running, spoiling my two cats (Charlie and Fiona), trimming my bangs, or practicing my French with Rosetta Stone.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Spelling my name correctly — nope, it’s not Aubrey, Audry or Andrea — and making sure the information in your press release is up-to-date and accurate are both good starts that make for a great first impression.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
Cold calling before emailing the press release.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.):
My dad went to Cass Technical High School in Detroit in the 1950s, where he studied lithographic printing and mastered the greaser look. He opened his first shop in Detroit before later moving into a building in Roseville, where I spent a lot of time as a child. I like to think my experience there — and my dad’s penchant for calling up the local newspaper to provide his opinion on a story he read — is one of the reasons why I entered this field.
You can check out some of Audrey’s latest work here: