The Inside Pitch About Pitching

Jackie Dove

May 17, 2016 /

Freelancer

Jackie Dove is a tech journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Formerly a senior editor at Macworld and creativity editor at The Next Web, she currently covers art, design, photography, gadgets, wearables, AR/VR, and a wide range of productivity apps and systems for Macworld, PCWorld, Tom’s Guide, Digital Photography Review, eHow, and Techwalla.

1) What’s the best way to pitch you?

E-mail is the best way to reach me. Increasingly, I’m getting pitched stories on LinkedIn and Twitter, which is extremely inefficient, as I’m not always seeing or following up on social network communications. That said, if you don’t know my email address, then go ahead and ping me on LinkedIn and be sure to leave complete contact information so I can get back to you via the usual channels. Please do not call me on the phone to pitch a story.

2) What’s the best time to pitch you?

Anytime — that’s the beauty of email. I can always find and respond to it.

3) What kind of stories interest you?

I’m open to pretty much anything in my various beats: graphic art and design, photography, video, AR and VR, Mac apps, iOS, the Mac platform in general, productivity, all kinds of cool gadgets, security hardware, pet gear, you name it.

4) What tips would you give someone pitching you?

Just give me the straight dope with all the info I need in one place to decide whether or not to cover a story. I’m looking for proposals that tell me basic things about the subject: what the product is and what it does, who it is targeted to, why it is important or better than competitors, the price, and when it will be released. I don’t like teases, guessing games, challenges, puzzles, or gimmicks that take up time.

5) What will you never write about?

I’m open to most tech-related subjects. I generally don’t cover finance or politics.

6) What’s the best pitch you ever got?

Haha — good one. ? I don’t classify pitches that way. I barely remember a pitch after I pick up a story — and that’s how it should be. If I do remember it, then it’s a negative example.

7) Do you prefer to receive news in a press release or a different format?

The current style of press kits are excellent: Release or blog, background information (including demo video or GIF), explainer, and images. Don’t ask me if I want to see it; just send the links with your intro email. If I’m interested, then I’ll click on the link and we’ve saved several emails and a bunch of time. If it’s an embargo situation, I’m fine with agreeing to the embargo before accessing the info.

8) How do you feel about embargoes?

I’m fine with them as long as they apply to everyone equally. The issue is that some people break them and that puts pressure on the pubs that play by the rules.

9) What are some of the biggest mistakes that people make when pitching you?

1. Using lots of inside baseball industry jargon in an initial pitch. Just speak in plain English and get to the point.

2. Not including the relevant information about the news: Tell me immediately what the product is, what it does, who it’s targeted to and how much it costs.

3. Not including the materials you have or promised.

4. Not including images or screen shots.

5. Not being straightforward about the status of a product: It’s not a new product if it’s merely a new version or an upgrade of an existing product. It’s not a launch if it’s still a beta. Not being clear and specific invites mistakes.

6. Saying your product is the first ever to do something or have a feature — most often, that just is not true.

7. Badgering me about an item I’m not interested in: persistent emails or phone calls after I have turned down a story or not expressed interest. It’s fine to follow up once, but after two contacts on the same thing, it’s best to move on.

8. Not knowing what you’re talking about and dodging simple clarification questions by immediately referring me to a conversation with the CEO. An interview with a CEO is an advanced part of the story and premature if I’m still deciding on coverage.

10) What’s the biggest misconception/s that you think people have about the media?

That we make things up, misquote people, and are biased, lazy, and don’t do our jobs. Most journalists are hard-working, care about their audiences and sources, and try to be fair to everyone. Often we work under extreme time constraints, so when you contact us about something that’s been years in the making — that we’re now hearing about for the first time — the advice I cite above regarding complete information is especially critical.

Another misconception is that we play a prominent role in boosting a vendor’s business. While that certainly can be helpful, our primary consideration and responsibility is to our audience. Without total credibility with readers, we have no opportunity to communicate with them.

"[Don't use] lots of inside baseball industry jargon in an initial pitch. Just speak in plain English and get to the point."

Another misconception is that we play a prominent role in boosting a vendor's business. While that certainly can be helpful, our primary consideration and responsibility is to our audience.

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