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    Coffee with a Journalist: Brooke Masters, Financial Times

    Brooke Masters is a US Financial Editor and an Associate Editor at the Financial Times where she leads a team of reporters covering financial services. She is also based in New York.

    During the episode, Brooke talks about how coverage is broken down across teams at FT, how sources should be pitched effectively, when is the best time to pitch her, 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


    What She Covers

    [00:02:46] BB: Since you are editor and you we were talking about this before we got on, you sometimes play traffic control. And then, of course you're writing your own stuff. How do you do the traffic control and swing stuff to people who might be interested? Versus, “Oh, that's a piece I'm perhaps going to do myself.”

    [00:03:03] BM: My personal interest is largely focused on the asset managers. The biggest ones, particularly BlackRock and its sort of competitors. But I help the banking team with some reporting. And then I also send things out to markets and the banking team and the asset management reporters. I tend to think about if it's clearly about an institution, other than say, BlackRock, which is mine, I will send it to whichever reporter covers that institution, or sector. If it's more a thought about, here's my market commentator, or we have a view that value is in focus. That's a very markets thing. So, I'll send it to the markets team. Often, what I will just do is respond and say, “Lovely of you to get in touch with me. Actually, you need to talk to Jennifer Hughes, who was the US markets editor.”

    [00:03:51] BB: Wow, do you actually do that consistently? As in a response, and you tell them who they should go to?

    [00:03:58] BM: If I think it's an interesting pitch, but I don't want to write it. Yes. If it's dull, I ignore it.


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    Pitching Pet Peeves

    [00:06:06] BB: That was me. Yes. Oh, God. No, no. I'm sorry to hear that this disease is still going. What's a bad pitch to you, besides obviously, the one you just gave, Brooke? Is there like one that just also grates to you?

    [00:06:20] BM: I think the ones that really state the obvious. Will rates go up or down? I know, that is the question. But have an angle. Also, anything that's 500, 700, 800 words, but you can't tell what the heck you’re talking about. If I can't figure out what you're talking about in the first two paragraphs, and the paragraphs are short, I probably am not going to keep reading. I think length is the big problem.

    [00:06:44] BB: Yes. Do you prefer the bullet points for your pitches?

    [00:06:48] BM: Bullet points help. I mean, sometimes I did – I cover a lot of legal issues which don't let themselves bullet point. I’d rather – also, ones that don’t actually – they're so vague, they don't make a point. I have a legal expert on the subject of money laundering. Well, that's nice. Okay, what's your point? And so, I would rather have a sentence saying, “This is the point. We're making about money laundering that you should talk to them about.” It should be short. It doesn't have to be bullet points. And it should be very clear who it is you're pitching, what their point is, and why I should be interested in that person's view. Because that's the other thing is like, “I have a legal expert.” Well, that's nice you have a legal expert. But why is he a legal expert? He's written seven books about this? Or he used to trade these securities? Why is he your expert?


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences

    [00:16:29] BB: Video or phone interview?

    • [00:16:33] BM: Ah, that's tough. I think these days more video.

    [00:16:35] BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?

    • [00:16:38] BM: Bullet points.

    [00:16:39] BB: Short or long pitches?

    • [00:16:42] BM: Short.

    [00:16:43] BB: Images attached or a Dropbox zip file?

    • [00:16:46] BM: As long as it’s not too many, images attached.

    [00:16:48] BB: Pitches in the morning or at night or who cares?

    • [00:16:53] BM: Not first thing in the morning because if you imagine, our bosses are in Europe, we wake up to five hours’ worth of emails. Anything that comes in before 10. I'm waiting through it. I'm much more likely to read something that comes in between, say 11 and 5.
    • [00:17:08] BB: Hmm, ET time, right?
    • [00:17:10] BM: Yes.

    [00:17:12] BB: Email or Twitter DM?

    • [00:17:15] BM: Email.

    [00:17:15] BB: Direct or creative subject lines?

    • [00:17:19] BM: Direct.

    [00:17:21] BB: Press release or media kit?

    • [00:17:22] BM: Press release.




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