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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Jun 24, 2005
Interview

How to Be Covered by RedHerring.com

SUMMARY: The RedHerring.com Web site has more than 50,000 registered members, including influential high-tech CEOs, VCs, and other financiers. We asked Editor-in-Chief Tom Murphy how to contact his reporters. Worth noting: they loath follow-up phone calls asking "Did you get my press release?" (but then so do most journalists).
Tom Murphy, Editor-in-Chief RedHerring.com, 19 Davis Drive, Belmont, CA 94002 650-428-2900 http://redherring.com editorial@redherring.com

-> Audience

50,000+ registered site members (registration is free). Demographics: CEOs (12%) and senior executives (35% director level or above) from technology ventures and Fortune 1000 companies.

-> Murphy's background

Murphy has been in the real-time and online news space for 18 years, for companies that include The Associated Press and MarketWatch. Most of that time he has spent in editorial. "But there was one brief stint in the early nineties where I worked in PR and marketing," he says. "Just long enough that I have a great appreciation for that field."

But, he said, he soon returned to journalism, "which is my first and only love."

-> Current editorial coverage

"I think technology and business affects everybody's life, every day. Those are the kinds of stories we're interested in, those that focus on both business and technology and have big impact," says Murphy.

Like the magazine, the site covers the global business of technology. "We're very interested in covering news from around the world," he says, and he has people located from Beijing to Paris to India to both coasts of the US.

The following industries are covered: --Biosciences --Communications --Computing --Energy --Entertainment and Media --Internet and Services --Security and Defense --Venture capital.

RedHerring.com covers news in a little more depth than most Web sites, Murphy says. His journalists do more than simply rewrite press releases; they interview senior executives and hunt down additional information when necessary.

While the site is news-driven, it also carries feature stories from the magazine and, occasionally, feature stories written specifically for the site.

-> Best way to pitch Murphy and his staff

Go to the contacts page where you'll find a list of beat reporters: http://redherring.com/ContactUs.aspx

Find the reporter to whom it makes the most sense to send your pitch. The list of reporters and their beats is "pretty much up to date, but I'd warn folks not to contact us based solely on that," says Murphy.

Instead, call the main number to confirm that that particular person is still the contact in that particular area. Then, pitch by email. All editors follow the same email formula: First initial last name @redherring.com

"We like executives to call, and we welcome PR people to call our reporters, but make sure it's a Red Herring story, in that it has a financial and technology angle."

-> What Murphy's journalists look for in a story pitch

"Our biggest problem on the Web site is getting immediate access to people who can answer the tough questions about a release," Murphy says. "It's very useful if we can get advance notice and get an interview."

Because the site is constantly updated, the team depends on quick responses. If your release merits attention, you'll probably hear back from someone in an hour.

"If somebody sends out a press release, I think it's their responsibility to be able to pick up a phone and answer a question right then."

Here's an ideal email: "Attached is a release I think you'll find interesting. Joe Smith, our CEO, is available immediately for questions, or you can call me for details."

That, says Murphy, is all the email needs to say. The release can be attached or included in the body of the email -- but don't send it as a PDF.

Murphy offered these tips on getting coverage on RedHerring.com:

o Build relationships "We like to build relationships between our journalists and company executives, so [executives become] aware of how good our people are and aren't afraid to pick up the phone and call us."

His reporters have quite a bit of time to talk to executives. In fact, if you have a good conversation with a reporter, they may end up doing a Q&A with you for the site.

PR folks, or the executives themselves, should call or email and ask for a meeting. The email might read: "XYZ is developing software for video phones. I'd like to get you to meet the CEO. He'll be in town Tuesday. Do you have any free time?"

It's helpful to do this before there's actually a news event, Murphy says.

o Make sure there's a business and technology angle. Only one in three releases actually have both, says Murphy. Here's what he wants to know: If there's an acquisition of a private company, how much is the deal worth, who are the initial investors, how much did they invest, what are the returns, how the market is developing for the product involved -- whether it's a semi-conductor chip or a robot.

Subject line should say more than "press release." You might say, "ABC acquires XYZ in thirty million dollar deal."

o Include graphics. If a graphic makes sense, send it with the release. Example: "We're doing a story this morning for a robotic guard for a shopping mall. Wouldn't you want to know what that looks like?" (Yes, we said… but he couldn't tell us because the PR person hadn't sent a photo.)

-> Pet peeves

"It's a big turnoff if it's leaked to other media first; we're far less likely to chase a story like that."

Also, Murphy really hates it when PR people call and try to chat him up based on some personal information they've read about him. It's a waste of time and a bad start.

The worst, though, are people who send press releases and then can't be contacted or callbacks aren't made in a timely manner.

Don't follow up with phone calls.

-> Becoming a regular columnist

No chance. As of June 23, 2005, the site ceased publishing columnist blogs.

-> Prewritten contributions

"We don't have bylines on our site or in our magazine; we speak in one voice, so we don't use a lot of outside contributors."

-> Where you can meet Murphy

If there's a good reason to meet with Murphy -- for a broader issue than the beat reporters cover, for example -- he's happy to. But for most pitches, the beat reporter is the one most qualified to decide if a topic (or person) is worth pursuing.

-> What he looks for in online press rooms

Illustrations, photos, backup press releases, financial information.

-> Favorite professional publication

"I probably read three or four daily newspapers, three or four weekly magazines, and six or eight websites pretty thoroughly every day. It's tough to pick out a favorite."

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