Each Friday, I put together a five-item list called the Friday Five.
This week, it's tips on getting covered in my Innovation Economy column on Sundays and on this blog.
Just a note of context first: my goal with both the column and blog is to tell the most interesting stories about what's new in New England and those stories can originate from a tiny start-up firm in someone's basement, an academic lab, or a giant publicly-traded company.
On to the advice...
My favorite columns capture something that is changing about the local innovation scene, for better or worse... useful lessons from the front lines for entrepreneurs...a trend that people are just starting to talk about, a new industry cluster emerging, an important new area of research...or an incredible story about success or failure. I also really enjoy the chance to see brand-new technologies being deployed in the real world, or to test-drive them myself.
I'm very easy to reach, and I like to receive e-mails from actual human beings who have actually read the column or blog, and have a great tip or story idea (as opposed to impersonal mass e-mails shotgunned to every journalist on the planet.) E-mail is best (just click my name in the right hand column, where it says "About the blogger"), and Twitter is OK, too (I'm @ScottKirsner.) I tend not to like taking phone calls if you haven't e-mailed first, unless it's something incredibly sensitive or urgent. When you call my cell phone to ask if I've seen your press release announcing version 4.3 of your company's expense accounting software, that probably won't be the happiest phone call of your life. If you're pitching a story that has a newsy element to it (like a funding announcement taking place on a specific day), a week or more of advance warning is great; I usually have my Sunday Globe column figured out six days ahead, on Monday afternoon. This blog can be more reactive, obviously.
It's great that you were just written about in another local business/technology publication or Web site. Congratulations on that. Let's talk in a few months when there's more news. My goal is to cover stories of interest to New England readers before they're covered elsewhere. And I think the advantage of being written about here and in the print edition of the Globe is that it's an effective way to get on the radar screens of potential customers, employees, and maybe even some investors (whereas many niche publications will just get you the attention of those last two groups.) I appreciate honesty when entrepreneurs are working with multiple media outlets at the same time, aiming to get covered in several places at once. (I tend to avoid those situations but will write something if I feel I can present a different take on the company.) In 2012, the Sunday edition of the Globe had about 365,000 readers, and Boston.com had about 5 million unique visitors each month, making it the most-trafficked news site in New England.
Probably 90 percent or more of my columns come from talking directly to entrepreneurs, investors, and executives not from public relations firms. I don't have anything against PR people, but most of the e-mails I get from them are peddling the same story to multiple different outlets, or trying to call attention to something that has already happened (like a press release that has just gone over the wire, or a product that has just been released.) I never touch that stuff.
I find it very hard to write about enterprise technology and infrastructure either on this blog or in my Sunday Globe column. I know there's some interesting work being done in online transaction processing, data warehousing, and wireless security, but unless there's an interesting impact on readers (or an amazing "people" story about the founder/CEO, or an eye-popping amount of funding), I tend to steer clear. I am always looking for opportunities to write about biotech, pharma, medical devices, and diagnostics in a way that readers can relate to.
Your comments and questions are welcome, below... as are gripes about what a pain I am to work with.