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    Coffee with a Journalist: Anna Hrushka, Banking Dive

    Anna Hrushka is currently a senior reporter at Banking Dive, covering banking and the fintech sector. She was also part of the team at Industry Dive to help launch the Banking Dive vertical.

    During the episode, Anna talks about her interest in banks and fintech partnerships, looking for second-day stories that further outline major stories, doing introductory calls with sources or meeting up for coffee, and more.

    Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.


    Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:

    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    Inbox Management and Flagging Good Pitches 

    [0:04:34] AH: Yeah. I get so many pitches a day, but in combination, I get just a ton of Google alerts and notices coming out from various regulators. It's a lot. It’s a lot to filter through and sort through. I try to like I'll sign in in the morning. I'll go through it, and I'll just flag any email that is like, “Okay, got to come back to that. Oh, that's something I need to look into later.” If it's not something I need to immediately open, because in the mornings, I tend to just be really busy writing. I don't want to get too distracted. 

    [0:05:09] BB: Morning rider.

    [0:05:10] AH: Okay. Don't want to get too distracted with my inbox in the mornings, but I just – I have a system where I just, I'll flag a ton of emails and then later in the morning when I've got some more time, when I filed my first story, I'll go back and go through those emails that stood out to me. 

    [0:05:29] BB: Okay. You're a flagger. 

    [0:05:30] AH: Yes. 

    [0:05:30] BB: It sounds like. Ah, there is a breed of that in this journalistic population here. Okay. So, do you just delete the pitches where you just deem it not a fit from the subject line alone? 

    [0:05:44] AH: Yes. Yeah. I feel like just being in the space as long as I have now. I have a pretty good – 

    [0:05:51] BB: Yeah. Better one.

    [0:05:52] AH: Pretty good at filtering out something that I just know is not going to be a good fit right away. I just don't have time to read everything. Yeah, I will click that delete button pretty fast. 

    [0:06:04] BB: Yeah. Okay. Then what's a good pitch to you, if it gets the flag? Why is it getting the flag? 

    [0:06:12] AH: A good pitch. The banking industry, there's just a lot of fast-moving pieces. I mean, there's a lot of news that we cover, like breaking news or just really timely stories that we need to get out and cover. I'm always looking for those second day stories too that further the news. If there was a big piece of regulation, not a regulator released or a merger that was announced or just, as I said, a really interesting non-bank deciding they went along on some banking service, I may cover that just right away, put it in our newsletter as fast as we can, but I'm always looking for a pitch that furthers that. Timely is, is really the key word here. 

    Give me a source that, a relevant source, obviously, but someone who can speak to why Elon Musk wants to add banking and payments to X, as it's called now. What does this new piece of regulation mean for CEOs, bank CEOs? I want to see a headline that really just is aware of the news and is pitching me someone who can really add some really interesting analysis or insight to that. 

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    Utilizing Experts On Record 

    [0:11:23] BB: Back to like the good pitch. I heard this yesterday on the show. I was like, “Oh, this might be relevant to you. I want to see if this works.” Do you want to see, for example, experts who can be on record or they have the big title, something like that? Like if you had, oh, Wells Fargo’s CEO on record. He wants to talk to you about Senate bill X, that would be an open for you. 

    [0:11:45] AH: Oh, yeah. I mean – 

    [0:11:46] BB: Yeah.

    [0:11:46] AH: If your client is Wells Fargo and Charlie Scharf wants to talk to me. I will drop everything and hop on the phone and talk to you, Charlie Sharf. 

    [0:11:56] BB: Oh, wait. This is what I love. I think so many publicists are just like, “Oh, the media never wants to talk to anybody.” It's like, oh, no, no, no. It's just the person it is. Do you have the caliber of the person? Hey –

    [0:12:07] AH: Exactly. In some cases, maybe the pitch itself is not necessarily something I'm that interested in, but if you tell me I can talk to your CEO about it and why your company is going in this direction, especially if it's a big bank or a well-known FinTech. Then yes. I'm going to hop on that call, because that in and of itself is, I think, interesting to our readers. They want to know what the big executives are doing and why they're doing it. 

    [0:12:37] BB: Okay. This is good to know. Is there anything else tips, tricks you use just to manage the flow of the pitches that come your way or that we should just know? 

    [0:12:48] AH: Yeah. There's the flagging that I do.

    [0:12:51] BB: Yes. Yes.

    [0:12:52] AH: But other than that, I'll try to just like open another window, maybe, perhaps in my computer. Then like go back to it, but obviously that can get chaotic. If you've got like a ton of Outlook windows open. No, I'm still trying to figure it out, to be honest. I'm open to tips from other journalists on how they manage their inboxes, I’m still – 

    [0:13:12] BB: That's almost maybe a fun thing we could do. OnePitch could do of like, okay, everyone who's been on the show has talked about this thing. Do you want to all come and hang out and like share your tips? I think it'd be fascinating. I could tell you doing all the interviews. It would be fascinating. 


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences

    [0:13:37] BB: Are you ready? Okay. Video or phone interview? 

    [0:13:41] AH: Phone interview. Yeah. I don't want to be camera ready all the time. I just also don't think, necessarily – 

    [0:13:48] BB: Hey, I feel you.

    [0:13:50] AH: Need to see your face to hear what information you're giving me. So, yeah. Phone is the way to go.

    [0:13:55] BB: Bullet points or paragraphs.

    [0:13:58] AH: Bullet points. 

    [0:13:59] BB: Short or long pitches. I know this is a dumb one, but still, you'd be surprised. 

    [0:14:03] AH: Short. I mean, and short is like, maybe – 

    [0:14:05] BB: And how short?

    [0:14:06] AH: Like two to three paragraphs, maybe. Yeah.

    [0:14:11] BB: That's, I think long. Okay. 

    [0:14:12] AH: I'm thinking short paragraphs, though.

    [0:14:14] BB: Yeah. Yeah. Three sentences. That's it. Okay. Images attached or Dropbox zip file. 

    [0:14:20] AH: No preference.

    [0:14:22] BB: Email or formerly known Twitter. We'll call it XDM. 

    [0:14:26] AH: Email is probably the very best way to reach me. I used to be way more active on Twitter or excuse me, X, but not so much anymore. I'm trying to be more active on LinkedIn. 

    [0:14:38] BB: Yes – 

    [0:14:39] AH: Trying to like – yeah, trying to get more pitches there. If you want to pitch me on LinkedIn, give it a shot. We'll see how it goes. 

    [0:14:45] BB: We got you. We got you. Okay. Direct or creative subject lines?

    [0:14:50] AH: Direct. I just think it's a lot easier for me to figure out what the pitch is. Creative can sometimes be a little, I don't know, a little misleading, perhaps. I don't know. It's just not – and it's not really our focus here at a Banking Dive. 

    [0:15:06] BB: Yeah. That's not the vibe. 

    [0:15:07] AH: Yeah. Exactly. 

    [0:15:10] BB: Press release or media kit. 

    [0:15:12] AH: Media kit is fine. I mean, a press release is great. I guess, to start out with, but if you've got a media kit with photos and other stuff, I'm always happy to look at it. 

    [0:15:21] BB: What time do you normally read pitches? We covered this a little bit. 

    [0:15:26] AH: Yeah. I mean, I could be on my – the way things are these days. I could be on my phone at any time of the day, looking through my inbox, trying to be better about that, separating like off time and work time. I'd say the best time when I'm really focused looking at my inbox is like late afternoon. That's like when the busyness of my day is over. We've got our newsletter has gone out. Most likely I'm done with meetings and interviews that I had. I'm just checking on what am I doing for the rest of the day or the rest of the week. I would say, maybe between like three and five might be the best window to get my attention. 

    [0:16:04] BB: That's an unusual time. Glad we asked. Okay. Then what types of sources do you look for? If you had to say the title, the one thing. 

    [0:16:13] AH: Yeah. I mean, I hinted at this before.

    [0:16:17] BB: Yes, you did. Yes.

    [0:16:18] AH: Yeah. Looking at like that C-suite executive. I mean, I want to talk to the people that are the decision makers at companies. They tend to make the headlines, if you will. They're the ones that are, our readers are interested in, as well. That being said, I mean, I do still want to talk to the folks, managers, folks that are creating products in the day-to-day of things at a bank or a FinTech. I mean, that's also obviously, always valuable. Yeah, it really – it could be wide ranging depending on the angle of the story, I guess. 



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