Heloise and Pamela, 2009 NFPW Conference

The Pantyhose Trick: Got a run in your pantyhose? Don’t throw the garment away. Simply cut off the damaged leg. Do this every time and soon you’ll have a “good” right and left leg. Don them both, and you’ve got a complete pair! (And two layers of tummy control.)

For more than 50 years Heloise has dispensed household hints such as this, but she’s got a laundry basket of advice for journalists as well.

Heloise writes a daily syndicated column, a monthly feature in “Good Housekeeping” magazine and myriad books. She’s a second-generation investigator, the daughter who took over after her mother’s death in 1977. But today’s Heloise isn’t merely rehashing what came before. She’s constantly testing and updating, and addressing new concerns. After all, Mother didn’t have to deal with how to clean cell phones and whether it’s okay to dry clothes in the microwave.

“Our challenge is the same as your challenge,” Heloise said at the 2009 National Federation of Press Women conference, at which she was named Communicator of Achievement. “People rely on us for accurate information.”

Here are a few of Heloise’ Journalism Hints:

* Ask yourself, what does my audience need? When Heloise composed laundry tips for college students, she didn’t go into the nuances of hand-washing and dry cleaning. For them, that’s TMI.

* Do the research. Heloise and her team spent days investigating the difference between a “leaking” iron and a “spitting” iron. They called multiple manufacturers and talked to engineers. And they ironed.

Look for telephone numbers that don’t start with 800—-those tend to be call centers rather than corporate offices, she said.

BTW, an iron reservoir filled with too much water spills over and leaks. An under-heated iron spits rather than steams.

* Check your facts. A reporter once wrote a story about Heloise that contained an error. When later stories contain the same error, as they frequently do, she knows somebody copied without checking.

“It’s your reputation on the line,” she said.