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Tracking a beauty queen PR musings

It was one of my first tasks upon joining the ranks of University News.

Biljana Mancic, one of our students at the American College of Management and Technology in Croatia, was named Miss Croatia and would be competing in the Miss Universe competition July 23 in Los Angeles. It was my job to interview her.

My reaction? ‘Sweet gig. I’m gonna love this job.’

I should have known better—especially given my luck with the ladies.

School wasn’t in session, so ACMT initially had no way of contacting her other than her school e-mail account. Some students barely check their school accounts over the summer anyway and your typical student doesn’t have close to the social schedule that Miss Croatia must keep.

A couple weeks later, with the help of some of the staff at ACMT, I got a response from Biljana—with her cell phone number—telling me that she’d be available for a phone interview that Sunday.

My reaction? ‘Awesome. Wait ‘til my buddies hear I have Miss Croatia’s digits.’

And my friends were impressed. Right up until they called me that Sunday afternoon to see how the interview went. That’s when I had to tell them Miss Croatia never answered her phone.

Their reaction? ‘Shocking.’

They know all about my luck with ladies.

Biljana got tied up with other engagements that afternoon and e-mailed me to apologize. We set up another interview time. I called again. No answer.

My reaction? ‘Why does this feel so familiar?’

Biljana e-mailed again to apologize. She was leaving for Los Angeles the next day to prepare for the competition and suggested that I try to reach her there. The problem was that her phone doesn’t work in the United States. I figured I’d try to arrange an interview with her through the Miss Universe public relations folks.

Their reaction? ‘Access denied.’

Now I was in trouble. The pageant was quickly approaching and so was my News & Events deadline. So, being the resourceful senior news specialist that I am, I dug up an interview Biljana had conducted with the ACMT newsletter, On the Spot, and pulled a few quotes (giving credit to On the Spot, of course), filled in with some new information, and hit my deadline.

Now we’ll just have to wait and see how RIT’s beauty queen fares in Sunday’s competition.

My reaction? ‘I’ve already set my TiVo.’

  1. Pete
    Jul 20


    What's Croatian for 'restraining order'?

  2. John
    Jul 20

    I promise, Pete. It was all in the name of University News. Anything to get RIT some publicity :-)

  3. Becca
    Jul 21

    So..I had a similar experience, before i left. I was assigned to the story as well, and attempted to contact Biljana. Then I actually WENT to ACMT in Croatia and emailed several more times. We arranged for an interview, and it didnt happen. three times. Then the dean got involved and arranged for us to meet. Then (this is no slight of her, she is unbelievably busy) she was quite late so I thought our interview was again, not happening. Such is the life of a journalist. Then she came and we had a great interview, (she is a sweetheart) and I typed up what I thought was one of my better stories. Now I'm wondering where it got to..

    Since you wrote one too. innnteresting......

  4. John
    Jul 21

    Becca, you're right—Biljana is incredibly busy. In the weeks leading up to her trip to Los Angeles, she not only had to prepare herself for the Miss Universe pageant but had tons of responsibilities to keep that came along with her Miss Croatia title.

    As for your story, here's what happened: N&E had been packed, so they weren't able to fit it in during spring quarter. By the time July rolled around, with the Miss Universe pageant coming up around the corner, we thought it was best to write a fresh story previewing the pageant (hoping that some RIT folks will tune in and cheer on one of their own).

    Not to mention that I was eager to talk to Miss Croatia, myself. So I didn't mind doing the leg work.

  5. The Tiger Beat
    Aug 25

    [...] Today, we’re committed to the blog’s theme, “Behind the scenes of RIT University News.” But, if one day we were to decide on another direction, we could consider—furthering the radio analogy—“changing format.” (Anyone for “All John Follaco, All the Time”? I, for one, would love to read more on the continuing saga of John’s quest to date—’er contact, I mean—Miss Croatia. ;~) [...]

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