Getting into the mind of an editor
What goes on in the mind of an editor, you ask?
Propel Communications Manager (former news editor and reporter) Eitan Goldstein had the chance to ask this very question to Axios Managing Editor of Business & Markets Javier David in our most recent webinar, “Getting into the mind of an editor.”
About the speakers:
Javier David- Javier David is a seasoned journalist and editor with nearly 25 years of experience. Currently the Managing Editor of Business and Markets for Axios where he oversees all of Axios’ business coverage and business newsletters, Javier was just last week tapped to be a CBS News streaming contributor where he’ll cover business, markets and the economy. Prior to this he was an editor at Yahoo! Finance where he covered foreign exchange, capital markets, the global economy, technology, corporate governance, politics and policy. Before this he was a senior editor at CNBC as well as the weekend homepage editor for CNBC.com. Javier was also a contributor for TheGrio, a WSJ financial reporter, and a financial reporter for Reuters. He was also a senior media relations specialist for an Investor Relations firm, as well as worked in crisis management and strategic relations.
Eitan Goldstein- Eitan is the Communications Manager for Propel. He uses the platform every day to garner earned media coverage for the company. Eitan previously worked at GKPR, one of the premier PR tech firms in Israel, where he represented companies from seed stage to Fortune 100. Prior to this, he was a senior editor at YnetNews, the English language edition of Israel’s largest newspaper.
Here are the discussion highlights:
Eitan- What does the journalism hierarchy look like? How are the different roles and responsibilities distributed throughout a newsroom?
Javier- The hierarchy itself and titles are different from newsroom to newsroom. The general hierarchy is editor, reporter, and then junior reporter or assistant. I wouldn't pay a whole lot of attention to that because I am a managing editor and in theory, or at least from an org chart perspective, I have a lot of dotted lines and direct reports, but I also write a lot. So it’s really critical for the PR representative to do the homework in terms of identifying whether this reporter is someone who has written about this particular subject for an extended period of time, I'd say at least 5-6 months.
Eitan- One of the things that is really confusing to a lot of us in PR is what happens behind the scenes between the reporter and the editor working together. What's going on when a story gets passed around to a few different people and the news room, between email threads?
Javier- I have a zero-inbox rule, so when I'm scanning pitches, I look at the headline, click into it (it should be brief, don't feel compelled to explain a lot), and then I organize the pitches into three categories:
1. The first is, ‘Okay, I'm working on this today. It’s a perfect fit for what I'm working on,’ and I will likely immediately respond.
2. The second is, ‘This is interesting but I really don't have any bandwidth to cover this today or this week, or maybe even this month. And then I make a good effort to respond to say it’s interesting, but I just don't have the time to look at this. Let's circle back and revisit at some point next week.’
3. The third is, ‘This is absolutely ridiculous, I will never write about it, I don't understand why this person came to me,’ it’s going in the trash and I'm not responding to the individual.
I think that the biggest barrier to getting noticed is just the sheer volume of inbox nuttery that we get on a daily basis.
Eitan- What is the process like for turning a pitch into a published story?
Javier- The best stories get picked up almost immediately. For example, I passed along an expert quote to one of my colleagues recently, and she published it in a story the next day. I've noticed that some of the best pitches include an expert quote. Otherwise, many journalists tend to use a personalized filtering system as I explained earlier with my three category buckets to stay organized.
Eitan- What happens on the media side when a story is in motion and there’s communication between the PR pro and the reporter, but suddenly the reporter goes silent and the story never goes live?
Javier- The biggest thing is that a journalist's most precious commodity is time. I could respond to you today and say, ‘This is a great story, I would love to cover it.’ But then tomorrow, breaking news drops. The journalist has no choice but to push all other stories to the side, and many land in the garbage when it comes to more evergreen content or less time-sensitive stories. Another reason is when fact-checking does not check out correctly, and we find out something questionable about the story or person at hand and have to squash it.
Eitan- When you haven't heard back from a journalist and you are confident that your story is relevant to them, what's a good follow-up strategy?
Javier- Sending 1-2 follow-up emails is plenty. If you have a strong relationship or a long relationship with a particular journalist, a text might be appropriate, as long as you are on those terms with the person. Be insistent, don’t be pushy.
For more on our great conversation with Javier David about getting into the mind of an editor, watch the recording on demand below: