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Dec 12, 2008

PR Interview: How to Pitch Technology Writer for Forbes: 5 Tips

SUMMARY: Do you have a clean-technology or biotechnology story you can’t wait to get in the business press? Try pitching the editor at Forbes who covers those beats.
Contact Information

Kerry Dolan
Senior Editor
Forbes Magazine and
555 Airport Blvd., 5th Floor
Burlingame, CA 94010


Dolan started at Forbes in 1994. She spent five years running Forbes’ annual list of the world’s billionaires. She moved to the company’s West Coast office in 2000, when she began reporting on clean technology, biotechnology, and international business, specifically in Latin America. She started her career as a reporter for Market News Service, a New York-based financial newswire.


Forbes Magazine has a total audience of about 5.4 million readers – moe than five readers per copy.

Demographics of print readers:
- 41.4% professional/managerial
- 20.5% top management
- Average age: 45
- Average household income: $108,448
- 69.4% male

Demographics of readers:
- Average of 15 million unique visits per month
- 32% of registered users are top managers
- Average age: 41
- Average household income: $137,857
- 76% male

Editorial Coverage

Forbes Magazine and strive to provide business leaders with the tools and coverage they need to succeed at work and profit from investing. The magazine covers business, technology, investing and lifestyle. The website also covers those topics as well as stock and mutual fund quotes and interactive tools.

Forbes Magazine sections include:
-Money & Investing
-Forbes Life

Note: Dolan’s clean technology and biotechnology stories appear in multiple sections, but primarily in Technology, Money & Investing, Entrepreneurs and Forbes Life.

How to Pitch: 5 Tips

Dolan says that about two-thirds of her story ideas come from PR pitches or contacts. Here are some tips for pitching her.

Tip #1. Use email

Dolan prefers email pitches. “I’m always working on a couple different things at the same time,” she says. “That’s why I prefer email -- because I’ll get back to the person whenever I can.”

Tip #2. Read her articles before pitching

Dolan prefers pitches from people who read her articles in advance; you should have a sense of her topics and angles.

Tip #3. Stop pitching if a competing publication published the story

Dolan wants exclusives – stories that Forbes’ competition haven’t run. Forbes considers their competitors to be The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Fortune, and national weeklies, such as Newsweek.

“We don’t want to have our readers feel like they’ve read some version of the story somewhere else,” she says.

Tip #4. Pitch topics of interest

Innovation in biotechnology and promising new drugs interest Dolan. But she only writes about drugs in the human trial phase.

She also is more interested in innovative technologies than policy dealing with clean technology. “We’re looking for a good tale about why the technology is going to change a particular industry or, if it’s more about an entrepreneur, how the person was able to come up with an idea for the company.”

People read Forbes because they’re looking for investment ideas or they want to learn from the successes and failures of other businesses. “We prefer that there’s some kind of lesson in our stories,” says Dolan. “And, if not, then an investment angle.”

Tip #5. Be prepared to provide numbers and access

Be prepared to discuss revenue, profits, and losses, whether your company is public or private. If a company is a small startup, Dolan recognizes that it may not be profitable yet. And, if it’s a venture-backed company, it probably doesn’t have revenue either. She takes that into account.

Dolan typically speaks with the CEOs of companies she writes about. “We know it takes a team to run a company,” she says. “But we can’t always talk to the whole team or write about the whole team, so very often the story of the CEO or the founder of the company is the backbone of the story we’re writing.”

Dolan prefers to meet and interview CEOs where they work. She prefers an hour-long interview and wants to walk around the plant or company headquarters.

Where to Meet

Dolan will often meet with people who live in or are going to be visiting the San Francisco Bay area. “If it’s something that I’m interested in, I will often say yes,” she says of requests to meet.

See Also:

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