September 28, 2007

PR Interview: How to Pitch Tech News to the San Jose Mercury News

SUMMARY: San Jose Mercury News boasts several awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes; currently, it is rated #34 among top 100 US daily newspapers. We interviewed their Tech Talk columnist and one of their editors to find out what you need to do to see your technology and business news on its pages.
Contact information
Dean Takahashi
Tech Talk Columnist
San Jose Mercury News
750 Ridder Park Drive
San Jose CA 95190
Gaming blog:
Tech talk blog:

Takahashi joined the San Jose Mercury News five years ago. Besides his blog, he writes Monday’s tech product review column and Thursday’s technology commentaries and opinion stories. He has spent 18 years as a technology reporter, 12 of them in the Silicon Valley. He has worked at The Wall Street Journal, Red Herring magazine, The Los Angeles Times. He’s the author of "The Xbox 360 Uncloaked: The Real Story Behind Microsoft's Next-Generation Video Game Console" and "Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft's Plan To Unleash an Entertainment Revolution."

Circulation & Readership
The newspaper’s audience is concentrated in Silicon Valley -- the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area, including San Jose and Santa Clara.

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, for the period ended March 31, 2007, the Mercury News had:
o Daily paid circulation: 230,870 and 717,500 total daily readers
o Sunday paid circulation: 251,666 and 808,300 total Sunday readers
o 51% are college graduates or higher
o 45% hold managerial and professional positions
o 40% are employed in high tech
o 44% have a household income of $150,000 or more

Current editorial coverage

The business section offers analysis and commentary on the high-tech economy, international trends and personal finance. There are daily business features:
o Monday: Tech Monday, Insider Trading, Tech Test Drive
o Tuesday: Venture deals and venture capital
o Wednesday: Tech notebook and biotech
o Thursday: workplace and careers
o Friday: commercial real estate and retail
o Saturday: consumer watch and philanthropy
o Sunday: Dan Gillmor on technology

Web site
Most of the print edition can be viewed online. Readers can search the database to access articles from the past 90 days. Some older articles are accessible for a fee.

The Web site contains a host of sections, including News, Business, Technology, Life & Style, Opinion and My City. The newspaper also offers a mobile edition and an option to read the paper via an RSS feed.

Five business blogs run on the site:
o Docu-Drama: Following Silicon Valley's Digital Paper Trail
o Good Morning Silicon Valley
o Square Feet: Silicon Valley Real Estate
o Tech Talk with Dean Takahashi
o Vindu's View from the Valley

How to pitch
The best newspaper section to pitch is Tech Monday, Takahashi’s column, which provides coverage of the technology industry. It is a weekly guide for high-tech lifestyle with news, reviews and advice. For instance, the column might contain reviews of the hottest products, such as iPods, WiFi and PDAs; the latest industry developments, and troubleshooting tips.

If you want to pitch Tech Monday, contact Takahashi by email. Include your company’s name in the subject line of your message. Takahashi prefers to focus on the bigger picture. Send him exclusive stories that go beyond product announcements.

Items, such as promotions, hires and appointments at the vice president level or higher should be sent to svpeople(at)mercurynews(dot)com or posted directly to People on the Move photo blog:

Even though the newspaper provides a fax number, 408-920-5917, and email, business(at)mercurynews(dot)com, you should contact individual reporters for general business pitches. The contact page for all writers and editors containing phone numbers, addresses and emails is at:

In your email, show that you’re familiar with the types of stories they write by sending only those relevant to their coverage. Senior Editor Melissa Jordan says reporters prefer focused pitches and “don’t like to be blasted with generic emails.” They will respond to queries of interest. She also advises that your pitches reflect your acquaintance with the Silicon Valley and respect for a reporter’s time (i.e., don’t attach huge files that take forever to download).

Contribute to the Mercury News
Takahashi does all the writing for Tech Talk. If you would like to contribute your own article, he suggests sending relevant pieces to the video gaming blog -- a portion of the site that accepts reader input.

Also, you may email items to the Business Calendar: svcalendar(at)mercurynews(dot)com. Read the newspaper to determine the most relevant department for your submission. Don’t forget to include your name and telephone number.

Send pitches at least two weeks before the desired publication date. Make sure the most important facts are in the first paragraph. Be neat and clear.

Meet the newspaper’s business columnists
Jordan says the newspaper’s reporters attend various technology events, including the International Consumer Electronics Show, E3 Video Game Show, MacWorld Conference and O’Reilly Conferences.

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