Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Michael Santoli, Senior Columnist at Yahoo! Finance, on his typical day, his “color commentary” on the markets and the volume game.
Firstly, tell us a bit about your role and the team.
I write a few columns a week about the stock market, investing themes, companies and economic issues, which appear on Yahoo! Finance and in a blog section called Unexpected Returns. I also appear on Yahoo!’s daily video shows The Daily Ticker and Breakout, and on CNBC and other news outlets, to comment on markets and the economy. The team of editors and writers here is constantly refreshing the Yahoo! Finance home page with a mix of third-party articles and original videos and stories to provide an authoritative real-time take on business and financial news.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A look at the overnight news and early-morning market activity typically prompts a few Tweets and a decision about what to focus on that day in terms of my next column. On any given day I might interview a money manager for a video or appear on CNBC. I try also to do as many in-person meetings with analysts, executives and money managers as I can fit in. More often than I’d like, I find myself writing at home after the kids are asleep, filing near midnight just to clear my slate for the next day.
What sort of content are you keen to feature?
I like to blend “breaking analysis” of market moves, corporate news and economic data with “slower” columns on business trends or investment opportunities. I have a pretty broad and flexible mandate, so I can hop from my usual “color commentary” on the markets, to a bit on the budget debate in Washington, or a piece about how, say, “old tech” stocks or gold or the auto sector look attractive or risky.
What do you wish you were covering more of?
I’m trying to set aside more time for longer, reported features on economic themes and corporate trends.
How can PRs help with content?
Obviously, the starting point is to know what sort of story I write and which topics I tend to tackle. I’m always happy to hear about a new investment approach, meet an interesting CEO (public company, for the most part) or see research papers/surveys on topics relevant to the markets, investments, the economy or corporate trends.
How and when is the best way for PRs to contact you and the team? E-Mail, though I’m OK with the phone as well so long as it’s not a rote call to make sure an email arrived, or some such thing.
What should PRs bear in mind when pitching in story ideas?
Yahoo! Finance’s audience and my contributions to the content mix. The audience is remarkably large and broad, which means niche, insider-y industry news is a tough sell. Yet users are avid watchers of the market and economy, so suggested sources or stories should have relevance to the economic outlook, corporate performance or market prospects. New-product launches and personnel moves are wasted on me.
Do you think the relationship between journalists and PRs has changed from when you first started you career? If so, in which way?
When I started some 20 years ago, PR professionals were largely an information touch-point at a company or for a client, requiring frequent interaction, with many regular contacts becoming both a formal and informal resource. In turn, they learned what specific types of news/ideas I might want to hear about. Today it’s a bit more of a volume game that includes blasted pitches to a vast list of media recipients. The most valuable relationships I tend to have with PR folks is among those who consistently introduce me to smart sources who are not already over-exposed.
What other industry publications do you read and respect for their content or style?
I always need to start with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times as a baseline news check for the day. Barron’s on weekends, a habit I acquired in my 15 years working there. I use RealClearMarkets.com a lot for its bundling of other media and blogs/research. I like the FT Alphaville blog for its clued-in take on the markets. I’m a relatively new Twitter user but have been amazed at its value in providing an eclectic but rich newswire and quick-analysis type experience.
Do you have any guilty pleasure reading?
I grew up on the New York tabloids and read at least one a day. Baseball blogs can soak up lots of my valuable time. When the show’s in season, Slate’s epistolary critics’ conversation after each “Mad Men” episode never goes on long enough for me.
What is the best thing about doing your job?
Virtually nothing going on in the world is without meaning for the markets which means that almost everything out there can serve as a salient input to understanding, describing or handicapping the investment scene. The subject matter rewards broad curiosity, and the flexibility of a blog/Twitter/in-house video means we can quickly weigh in on whatever conversation or flow of news is underway. I appreciate the opportunity to reach millions of everyday investors and dedicated traders, for whom Yahoo! Finance is a critical, trusted daily resource.