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    Coffee with a Journalist: Matt Safford, Tom's Hardware

    Matt Safford is the managing editor at Tom’s Hardware. Matt started building PCs in the 90s and was a fan of technology from an early age. That love turned evolved into a journalism career writing for publications including Popular Science, PCMag, and Digital Trends.

    During the episode, Matt discusses his unique approach when it comes to product reviews, how to format pitches for Tom's Hardware, why he’s skeptical of exclusives, and more.

     Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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

    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    The Format of a Great Pitch

    [00:08:47] BB: In terms of the structure of the pitch, you mentioned a little bit why is it important, so forth. Do you like bullet points? Do you like succinctness? Like what are the perfect pitch elements for you?

    [00:08:58] MS: I mean, I think it kind of can depend on the topic and how complicated or truly innovative something is. But for sort of straightforward things, I think bullet points are great. If it's a little bit more complex, and maybe the pitch has a little bit more spin, like I'm happy. I read paragraphs of text and edit paragraphs of text all day. So I'm happy to adjust things that way. I think just like try not to make it several paragraphs long, and that's fine as well.

    [00:09:28] BB: Succinct is good. Okay.


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    How to Build a Relationship 

    [00:09:56] BB: I don’t usually ask this, but I'm just going to throw this out here, Matt. Are there any best practices that you really prefer within when you are engaging with the publicist? All right, you read the pitch. You like it. You're going to do it. But what makes you go like, “Okay, that was an interaction I would like to repeat.”?

    [00:10:12] MS: I'm going to think just basic stuff. Does the person clearly know what they're talking about? Do they respond in a reasonable amount of time? One of the things that I – in sort of all aspects of life is like I just try to treat people like people. So like throw a little personality in there. That's absolutely fine. 

    Again, like a lot of the people that I work with, I've been working with off and on a long time. A lot of people move around to different companies, right? 

    [00:10:40] BB: Yes, they do. They do. 

    [00:10:39] MS: So try to come off as a decent human being, and I try to do the same.


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences

    [00:13:12] BB: Video or phone interview?

    • [00:13:17] MS: I don't have a strong preference. I mean, if it's something like specifically that you want to show me that's visual, obviously, video is fine. I've done a lot more video stuff through the pandemic. So that is fine by me. Whichever is fine. 

    [00:13:31] BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?

    • [00:13:37] MS: I think I have a slight preference for bullet points. But paragraphs, if there's a reason for paragraphs, it's absolutely fine.

    [00:13:42] BB: Images attached or Dropbox zip file?

    • [00:13:46] MS: If it's one or two, attached. If it's a media kit or a bunch of images, Dropbox. Something like a Dropbox is better.

    [00:13:56] BB: Pitches in the morning or at night or who cares?

    • [00:13:59] MS: I mean, I don't think it matters a lot. But I think late at night probably helps it to be at the top of my inbox in the morning.

    [00:14:08] BB: Email or Twitter DM?

    • [00:14:12] MS: Email. I don't use Twitter that much. So although I do have a couple of people that respond to me through Twitter, I prefer email, for sure. 

    [00:14:20] BB: One follow-up or multiple?

    • [00:14:23] MS: One is usually plenty. Most of the time when I get more than one, it's because I'm ignoring you because your pitch is irrelevant to me. The only time I really get annoyed is when somebody is following up three or more times. 

    [00:14:40] BB: Direct or creative subject lines?

    • [00:14:49] MS: Direct, usually. I mean, if it's going to be really creative, it better be really good.

    [00:14:57] BB: Press release or media kit?

    • [00:15:04] MS: I mean, usually, if it's a news item, a press release is good. If it's something more complicated with more lead time, a media kit is good.




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