#FridayForums provide an excellent opportunity to gain knowledge on a wide range of topics – from how to be a good storyteller to adapting to the different tasks life throws at us. Last Friday, Bloomberg News Senior Executive Editor, Global Technology Brad Stone shared tips for pitching technology journalists, as well as some surprising insights he learned working with the Amazon PR team while writing his latest book, Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and the Invention of a Global Empire.
Five Pitching Tips
Most tech journalists are overwhelmed with pitches. To get your message heard, Stone suggests:
- Make sure you have a solid, newsworthy story.
- Pitch the right reporter. This increases the likelihood your story will be presented correctly.
- Offer something interesting and impactful that the reporter may not already know. Pitch this as an overview of the story in your first outreach and save the details for later.
- Be persistent, but don’t sell too hard. If you’re confident the publication’s readers will be interested in your story and the journalist hasn’t responded, follow up. If you don’t hear back after several attempts, move on.
- “Don’t be afraid of hard questions,” said Stone. He advises executives to face those questions head-on when a writer wants to publish their story. This will help bring the executive’s authentic voice to the table.
Stone said sometimes you just get lucky and your pitch is successful. Or your timing is perfect for the topic. Or the publication has a content hole to fill. In any case, if you follow the tips above, you’ll increase the odds of getting your story picked up.
What’s It Like Working With Amazon’s PR Team?
To conduct research for his latest book, Stone worked closely with Amazon’s PR team. He said their approach to PR has changed over time to shift how they’re seen by the public. For example, Amazon found that they can no longer hide and be misunderstood. Instead, they need to proactively engage with consumers and the media.
Stone said there was one major difference between writing The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon in 2013 and his most recent book. For his first book, he interviewed individuals and relatives who were close to Bezos. Much to Stone’s surprise, his book received many one-star reviews and negative comments from Amazon employees. Stone was concerned that Amazon wouldn’t be receptive to or supportive of him writing a second book about them. However, this time the Amazon PR team accepted that some reporter was going to write the story with or without their approval. So it might as well be someone familiar with Amazon. They assigned a team member to work with him to fact check and discuss the various areas Stone wished to write about. This didn’t mean they lowered their shield; they were professional and disciplined when talking to him because, besides being an author, he was a member of the press reporting on both Amazon and Jeff Bezos.
Bloomberg’s Technology Trends Coverage
During this recent #FridayForum moderated by Board Member Jeannie Entin, Stone also discussed the major technology trends shaping Bloomberg’s coverage. Here are three topics he said are of interest to Bloomberg’s readers:
Cyberattacks. In many cases when these occur, the company hurries to pay off the criminals to end the attack. This behavior encourages more attacks on other businesses because hackers often work in countries where there’s little accountability.
Antitrust crackdown on global corporations. These efforts are most often directed at companies viewed as “unstoppable.” In many cases, successful CEOs step down to avoid scrutiny.
The microchip shortage and the supply chain’s impact on product availability. Repercussions are affecting manufacturing, government and even the communications industry, including departments within Bloomberg.
If you have a good story about these trends, contact Brad Stone.
And be sure to join us for our next #FridayForum on June 4: How We Got Here: Communications in the Public Sector. Hope to see you then.