Martin Bryant is a breath of tech press fresh air. As Managing Editor for The Next Web (based in the UK), he’s seen his fair share of interesting companies and reported breaking news for hundreds of tech startups across the globe.
Before AirPR launched our Investor Program a few weeks ago, Hermione Way (who has worked with TNW as video editor for the past several years) suggested I contact Martin to push out the story. Here is what happened:
Step 1: Emailed Martin and referenced Hermione’s suggestion to contact him.
Step 2: Within 2 hours received a very pleasant, British-accented email (in my head) expressing interest and asking for a few more details.
Step 3: After picking myself up off the floor (I had fallen off my chair in shock at both the timeliness and kindness of his email) I gathered the requested details and shot him back an email.
Step 4: He asked if I had a preference date for releasing the story.
Step 5: Cue chair fall. Got back up. Answered: “yes I do and thank you so much for asking.”
Step 6: Then…he ran this story and everyone was happy. The end.
Thank you Martin for being the type of dream journalist every smart PR person who does their homework deserves to encounter…and thank you for sharing some extremely pertinent insights for this interview.
AirPR hearts you.
PR has been receiving quite a bit of “PR” lately – for better or for worse — why do you think this is becoming a part of the public discourse (at least in tech media)?
Martin Bryant: Part of the reason is that it’s now easier than ever to moan about bad PR, whereas in the past journalists may have just had to make do with discussing it with colleagues in the office. Through Twitter and Facebook they now have a platform to complain about unpleasant PR experiences in real-time. Indeed, some journalists seem to make a hobby of it.
At the same time, social media means that people in PR now have more ways to contact journalists. Horror stories about being emailed, phoned, mentioned on Twitter and sent a message on Facebook – all about the same pitch – are sadly not just stories, even if they are (thankfully) quite rare, at least in my experience.
Another factor is that seemingly more than in other areas of the press, the tech media is particularly good at navel-gazing. We love to complain about perceived poor ethical practices at rival publications, and discuss the minutiae of our own jobs to anyone who will listen. PR is a part of that mix, so it’s no surprise that it gets its own share of discussion on the pages of tech blogs.
How do you manage the barrage of coverage requests? Meaning, how do you filter, manage, make decisions about who to respond to, how to respond, etc?
MB: I used to have a straightforward rule – reply to everything I want to cover AND to anything I don’t, as long as the pitch was presented in a personalized way. While that worked when The Next Web was smaller, as we’ve grown, the amount of time I need to spend on email has rocketed. Now my rule of thumb is to reply to everything I want to cover, plus anything presented in personalized way that almost made the cut, but not quite. A lot of the time, I simply ignore the rest, although these are usually archived with a ‘Tips uncovered / rejected’ Gmail label in case I need them for future reference.
I know a lot of people in my position simply ignore anything they don’t want to cover, but I strongly believe that a decent pitch deserves a decent reply, and I endeavor to send one whenever I’m able. That said, some days that rule goes out the window if I’m particularly snowed under.
For all its flaws, email is a simple, straightforward system, and my inbox is where I like to receive all my pitches. As much as I try to reply to pitches via Facebook or Twitter, they often get missed – especially on Twitter where they may have disappeared down my mentions stream before I get a chance to handle them. Email’s always best!