Jay Peters is a news writer at The Verge. Jay covers breaking news in consumer technology, video games, entertainment, streaming, and more. He also writes about virtual worlds, the technologies that power them, and the companies trying to make the metaverse happen.
During the episode, Jay talks about the most useful pitches for him personally, lead time for embargoes, his thoughts on the future of the metaverse, and lots more.
If you want to know more about his work, follow Jay on Twitter and LinkedIn.
The Art of Subject Lines
[00:03:56] BB: Okay, Jay, what is a pitch that stands out to you from either the subject line or even the contents?
[00:04:17] JP: In my day-to-day work, I'm covering a lot of breaking news at The Verge. So, my general responsibility is to be writing things pretty quickly and get a few stories on the site every single day. So, that means the emails that are most useful for me, respect the urgency that I have to bring to my work every day.
“One that happened a week or two ago, it just said, ‘YouTube TV Exclusive’, and that was a great one for me, and it was also sent to my colleague who eventually took the story.”
But it was a great one for me, because I knew it was a company that we cared about at The Verge. They said it was an exclusive for us, from a company that we really care about. It was just those three words. So, I knew exactly what It was right on the tin. I'm on a Mac, and I just use Apple standard mail program. And so, I see most of my subject lines through the little notification that appears in the top right corner. If there are too many words that exceed far past that notification, and the important thing is at the end of that notification, I might not see it, and I might not care about it. So, this one was a great one, because I could see it all right there. I knew immediately that it's something that I need to be at least considering for The Verge, even though another colleague of mine ultimately ended up taking the story.
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Relationship Building 101
[00:13:25] BB: If someone doesn't know you, is there any way for them to get to know you? Because do you have any preference in your opening of emails towards those you actually recognize?
[00:13:42] JP: I'll generally look at the subject line in the first couple sentences of every email that I get. So, if you're pitching me on a topic that is within my wheelhouse, based on other things I've written, or stuff that I tweet about, or posts about on The Verge, at least look at it. And if it's interesting to me, then I'll follow up with that person to maybe ask more questions, get some more detail about whatever the announcement or the potential tip is. I'm really open to learning more and talking with people. But that’s only if it's on things that I think are really interesting or might be beneficial of my coverage at The Verge. I get people pitching me on a really wide array of stuff because I've written on a really wide array of stuff.
[00:14:28] BB: Yes. Kind of makes it hard.
[00:14:29] JP: But there are a lot of people who pitch me, who clearly have like really followed and read my work and understand where my interests are. And those, I’ll definitely talk to those people who are reaching out to me.
Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences
[00:14:41] BB: Jay, we have a little rapid-fire question here. Video or phone interview?
BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?
- JP: I'm going to say short paragraphs.
- BB: How short? Two-sentence paragraphs?
- JP: I try not to make my paragraphs longer than three or four sentences, and I'm sure many people can find many examples of me breaking that own rule that I just said. But I try to keep pretty tight paragraphs in my own writing, and I guess that's what I like to read.
BB: Images attached or Dropbox zip file?
- JP: I'm going to say, images attached, only because I'm often forwarding emails to other folks at The Verge, and it's often easier to make sure that things just get carried across from place to place by forwarding.
- BB: Yes. That's a good point. No one's brought that up before Thank you for clarifying. I would agree. It's way easier for that. “Oh, here's the link. Here’s the thing.”
- JP: Plus, with Dropbox or Google Drive, I find sometimes that there can be so much stuff that's just uploaded to a Google Drive or a Dropbox that I maybe get lost in a bunch of different folders.
BB: Pitches in the morning or at night?
- JP: I'm more of a morning person. I'm usually online and about eight o'clock in the morning Pacific time. And I really try my best not to check my work stuff after I sign off. So, pitch me in the morning is what I prefer.
BB: Email or Twitter DM?
- JP: Email, by far. My email is probably the best way to get in touch with me, because I'm keeping a pretty close eye on it during the day. I keep it pretty organized. I find that Twitter DM or Facebook DM, it's just more inboxes for me to manage. So, I really try and centralize it all into my email.
BB: One follow up or multiple?
- JP: Just one. I get a lot of people who do multiple, multiple follow ups, and sometimes I legitimately do miss something. And typically, a one follow up will be enough for me to see that. And if it's interesting for me to say, “Oh, I'm sorry, I missed this”, and continue the conversation from there. But you can assume if I don't get back to you after one follow up, then it's probably not something I'm going to reply to.
BB: Direct or creative subject lines?
- JP: Direct, 100 times of 100. That's a personal preference through the volume of things that I might have to write in any given day, that just a super direct, straightforward subject line that tells me what it's going to be about. That makes my job much, much easier.
BB: Press release or media kit?
- JP: Hmm. It kind of depends because some press releases give me all information that I need. And some media kits have information that I can take out to write a post as well. So, I'll say both? It’s on a case-by-case basis for that one.
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