The Inside Pitch About Pitching

Dylan Tweney

May 12, 2015 /

VentureBeat

Dylan Tweney is the editor-in-chief of VentureBeat, overseeing a news team of about a dozen journalists. Since he joined the site in 2011, the site’s audience has more than tripled, to 6.5 million monthly visitors. He also writes the weekly “Dylan’s Desk” column, a weekly series on Silicon Valley, the tech industry, and the impacts of technology on business strategy.

1) What’s the best way to pitch you?

The very best way is to look at the contact form on VentureBeat’s website, and either use the form there or use the list of reporters to figure out which reporter to pitch:

http://venturebeat.com/contact

If you can’t figure out which reporter is the best contact, it’s ok to email me.

It is *highly* recommended that you copy tips@venturebeat.com any time you have time-sensitive news that you are pitching, whether you are emailing me or anyone else on my team.

That form, by the way, as well as tips@venturebeat.com, go to the whole news team. We do monitor incoming messages constantly, though we don’t reply to everything.

If you don’t hear from me, it’s ok to follow up in a day or two (just re-mail me in the same thread so I have all the context right there).

2) What’s the best time to pitch you?

Two or three days before your news is due to break. We do respect embargoes, and a few days gives us enough time to find a reporter and do a decent job on the story. The night before is a terrible time. I hate getting email at 4:45pm Pacific for something that is breaking the next morning at 5am Pacific. I mean, it’s better than no email at all, but really — sending an email then is basically saying “I value your time so little that I know you’ll stay up late to respond to my needs.” It’s a terrible way to build a relationship with a reporter.

3) Other than your own, which is your favorite publication to read?

Recode, BusinessWeek, The New Yorker, The New York Times (in print on Sundays), MIT Technology Review

4) Who’s your favorite journalist?

After myself? LOL!

I probably have the most respect for John McPhee, of all journalists in the world. Tom Hallman of the Oregonian is one of the best narrative journalists I know of. In tech, nobody gets scoops like Kara Swisher, of course, but she’s not my favorite, mostly because I am so often shaking my fist at her (virtually, of course — in real life I’m a nice guy).

5) What kind of stories interest you?

Stories that show how technology is being used to create competitive advantage, for businesses or for professionals.

Scoops.

News analysis stories and news features that take angles no one else has taken.

6) What tips would you give someone pitching you?

Keep it short — you have to get my attention with the subject line plus the first line or two of the email, and you have to close it with the first two to four paragraphs.

But after that, you can include as much detail as you want. It’s always a good idea to paste in additional material so I have some background if I decide I am interested.

We like stories about people — everybody does — but you have to put it in the context of the bigger technology/business story VB covers (see #5).

7) What will you never write about?

Hard to say “never,” but we very, very rarely write about executive appointments, new partners at VC firms, minor upgrades to existing products, and sales milestones.

I try to steer away from personal drama-driven and speculative stories, unless very well sourced and clearly relevant.

8) Star Wars or Star Trek?

Battlestar Galactica!

It is *highly* recommended that you copy tips@venturebeat.com any time you have time-sensitive news that you are pitching, whether you are emailing me or anyone else on my team.

Keep it short — you have to get my attention with the subject line plus the first line or two of the email, and you have to close it with the first two to four paragraphs.