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    Coffee with a Journalist: Eric Savitz, Barron's

    Eric Savitz is an associate editor of technology at Barron's. Learn more from him about technology, investing, and Silicon Valley through his Twitter and LinkedIn.

    During this episode, Eric talks about simplicity, straightforwardness, and personalization in pitches, interest as a key component of a successful pitch, and his preferences when it comes to approaches to sending relevant pitches.


    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    How to Standout in His Inbox 

    [00:04:18] BB: Okay, so back to the pitch question. I asked you, how does a pitch stand out in your inbox?

    [00:04:25] ES: Well, so I think the key is, to me, it's about simplicity, and straightforwardness. So, it's not really about trying to write a clever like subject line or like a clever pitch note.

    “I think it helps to be short and to the point. When I was doing corporate comms, I generally had a philosophy that my pitches, when I was pitching, I kept them to like paragraphs. I always told the people who worked for me, “Just do a paragraph. If you're going to write a long letter, no one's going to read it.”

    And that is, I think, very true. We're on this side of the fence. We're all besieged, as you know, by many, many, many pitches every day, many of which are off target. So, it does help to have an understanding of what I might be interested in and to have a sort of personalized approach. So, I think, that kind of mass mailing approach where you send a long list of people the same pitch.


    3 Elements of a Pitch

    [00:08:27] BB: Yes. You touched on this a little bit, Eric, but I want to dig into a little bit more. What for you would be like your three must-haves for a pitch that you like?

    [00:08:36] ES: So, I think it's – there's sort of some gating factors, right? So, it helps if it's – as for starters, let's just let's assume that it's a public company, which almost certainly necessary for me to spend much time on something.

    “Having access to senior-level management, whether it's the CEO or the CFO, or someone else at a high level is going to make a difference to me. I don't just want to – in most cases, that's going to be necessary for me to get involved anyway.”

    And then some understanding of why this might be of interest to a financial audience. So, I tend to be a little more interested in strategy and opportunity and a little bit less in, we have a new device, we have a piece acquired.

    [00:09:25] BB: Yeah, here it is. Do you like people also in their pitch to be that explicit? Hey, Eric, that’s why it matters to a financial audience, like to state that outright?

    [00:09:34] ES: Yeah. I mean –

    [00:09:35] BB: That’s very direct.

    [00:09:36] ES: There are lots of ways to say that, but I think it’s part of an under – as long as we have sort of a mutual understanding of like, why that might be interesting. And some cases it goes without saying, like, if it's a big transaction or something like that, or it might be, I don't know, let's say we're preparing to go public, so it might be like an upcoming. Something where it's – there's some clarity on why the financial aids might care. I think it's generally helpful to be clear about that. It's like the so what question, right? So, why do I care about that? It's a little bit like, I often get pitch pieces on companies raising a new round of financing. My reaction to that is always good for you. But like that doesn’t help with my readers particularly.


    Rapid Fire Questions

    BB: Video or phone interview?

      • ES: I'd rather do video if possible.

    BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?

      • ES: I'm a big believer in bullet points.

    BB: Short or long pitches? And how short if short?

      • ES: Short as possible.

    BB: Three lines, five lines?

      • ES: However short you can make it.

    BB: Okay, images attached or Dropbox zip file?

      • ES: I'd rather have them attached. I think it's easier not to have to go someplace else to see stuff.

    BB: Pitches in the morning or at night or don't care?

      • ES: I'm not sure how much it matters. I mean, I would say although there's a caveat there, which is it depends on the timing. If it's something that's time sensitive, of course, you want to see it as soon as possible. Whatever the time is. I note that two things, that are related to that. One is because I'm operating on West Coast time, not East Coast time, sometimes people like they'll send me something, say four o'clock Pacific Time, or something like that. And usually I'm operating under kind of stock market hours. So, my days a little earlier. And then in terms of news flow, I will say that, like our experience is we generate, at least for our website, because we're so market driven. We drive more traffic in the morning than we do in the afternoon. I would rather – it is beneficial for, in most cases, in terms of just getting the story seen to poster it.

    BB: Email or Twitter DM?

      • ES: Oh, email.

    BB: One follow up or multiple?

      • ES: Please, stop at one. I mean, because – it’s a reason, right? I think this is an important point, which is that I try and respond to as many things as I can. But like every reporter, I get more volume to respond to. By repeatedly following up, you're adding to the pile. I don't think it's a good strategy. I think that I will begrudgingly admit that like, there's it's certainly the case that in some situations, there's a pitch that maybe I'd be interested in, which just sort of gets lost in the shuffle or gets shoved so far down into the inbox that like I lose track of it. So, it's legitimate, I think to do a follow up, that I would stop.

    BB: Direct or creative subject line?

      • ES: Direct, always direct. I don't want a creative subject line. I mean, it can be entertaining. But it's just a practical thing. Don't try and make me guess at what it is that you're trying to sell me on. And the other thing, there's a related point, by the way, not to rally there. But there are these occasions when someone sends you a pitch, and literally doesn't include the name of the client in the pitch that they're making. Would you like to see this aviation company? By not including it, it's just sort of an admission that you know that I'm not going to care. You know that this is not a company that I know about or will likely care about. 

    BB: How about press release or media kit?

      • ES: I think generally, press release is better. Okay. I mean, I think there are handful of exceptions and I don't like do a lot of product stuff. But I guess if you have like a complicated set of product launches, maybe want to have some – send me to a virtual press kit or something like that. And if I needed to have a lot of images, I think in most cases, just a simple press release will do it.




    Learn more pitch tips and insights from previous guests on Coffee with a Journalist in our journalist spotlight videos available for free on YouTube.

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