Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Daniel Gross, Global Business Editor and Columnist at The Daily Beast and Newsweek, on controlled chaos, relevant PR pitches, and the relationship between journalists and PRs.
Firstly, tell us a bit about your role and the team.
I’m Global Business Editor and Columnist at The Daily Beast and Newsweek. That means several things. I write columns and features for Newsweek and help plan business coverage. I write several columns per week for The Daily Beast. I edit The Daily Beast’s business section. In that capacity, I supervise a few reporters directly and work with our global team of correspondents, reporters, and freelancers. We publish several business/economy/finance articles per day. I am also the host of a daily video show, The Number, which airs on DailyBeast.com.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Controlled chaos. On a typical day, I”ll be writing a column, shooting a video, editing a few articles, participating in a couple of meetings, and working on bigger projects.
What sort of content are you keen to feature?
We don’t aim to cover everything. I (and our audience) am particularly interested in business/finance stories that have a bearing on politics and government; on sustainability; and on big global issues
What do you wish you were covering more of?
European financial crisis, alternative energy, interesting start-ups
How can PRs help with content?
- Come with multiple story ideas rather than a single one.
- If you’re at an agency (rather than a company) try to give us a hint of who else you represent that might be useful. We often associate a PR person with a single client, while most represent many. Knowing who else is on the roster expands the possibilities.
How and when is the best way for PRs to contact you and the team?
What should PRs bear in mind when pitching in story ideas?
- You’ve got to demonstrate some relevance. Read what the person you’re pitching has been writing about the last few weeks or months, and then try to link it to what you’re trying to pitch. I get so many pitches that have very little bearing on stuff that I and my colleagues are writing about. And if the pitch you have is not relevant, then acknowledge it and try to tie it in to the person’s beat or area of interest. “I know this isn’t what you usually cover, but you might want to consider writing about subject X because. . . .”
- Although the internet seemingly offers unlimited bandwidth, people don’t have unlimited bandwidth. There’s only so much content that can be written, produced, and featured on any given day.
Do you think the relationship between journalists and PRs has changed from when you first started you career? If so, in which way?
Yes. Obviously, it’s much more of an electronic business than a voice and personal one. And in a way that makes personal relationships matter less. There are people I’ve been working with for a decade or more whom I have never met. And that’s fine. Also, the relationship is less transactional. When I started working as a professional journalist in 1989, you needed PR people to do things like fax us a press release, or get us a number on sales, or get a data point. Now we do that all ourselves. So it’s less about providing data and information and more about providing context (i.e. some information, or pointing to some research on a topic), or helping to make an interview happen.
The other big difference is that back in the 1980s and 1990s, reporters and journalists in general were much more private people. If a journalist called, you might not know anything about them – where they went to school, what they’ve written, where they’ve worked. Now it’s possible to know all of that. And I’d argue that it’s part of the PR person’s job. Before I interview somebody, I check out their bio, their LinkedIn profile, do a Google search – so I’m armed with some knowledge and some points of entry for a conversation. I expect PR people to do the same before they approach me. Everything I’ve done in the last 15 years – my books, articles, public appearances, interests – it’s all out there.
What other industry publications do you read and respect for their content or style?
The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The International Economy, Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. Blogs like: TheBigPicture, Brad DeLong, hybridcars.com, greenbiz.com
Do you have any guilty pleasure reading?
I’m always reading an espionage thriller
What is the best thing about doing your job?
I get paid to write, to think about things I’m interested in, and to see the world.