On the Record with Anthony Ha of TechCrunch

The theme of this blog series is: Making your job easier! My goal with this blog series is to educate the public relations (PR) industry and ensure that we are forming productive relationships with the media. It seems as though PR people and reporters are often at odds with one another, and I hope to do my part to change that dynamic.

As an account coordinator (AC) at our San Francisco PR firm, I am in the perfect position to get my feet wet within the fast-paced tech PR industry. I have come to learn that being an effective AC means making my team’s job easier. One example includes collecting news sweeps for my team to understand what reporters are talking about in our industry, as well as providing insight about how we can make the client relevant. These activities help us develop stronger PR strategies and plans. I believe this same process should apply to all public relations people who engage with reporters. The overall goal is to understand how I can help make your job easier, and to equip each professional with the best possible resources.  

Anthony_Ha_JournalistFor this week’s On The Record, I had the opportunity to speak with Anthony Ha of TechCrunch. Anthony is a senior writer at TechCrunch, where he covers media and advertising. Previously, he worked as a tech writer at Adweek and was a senior editor at the tech blog VentureBeat.

He attended Stanford University and now lives in Brooklyn.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Fiction writing, karaoke, running.

What do you generally write about?

I like to write about media, advertising, pop culture and how all three intersect with technology.

What are some hot topics that you would like to write more about?

I never know how to answer this, particularly because things can shift from “hot topic” to “topic I never want to get another pitch about” in the span of a day.

What kind of music do you listen to when you want to crank out content?

Silence.

What are your general thoughts about the PR industry?

They’re people. Some are good, some are not good.

Any pet peeves that you experience with PR people?

Endless email threads or phone calls after I’ve already said no to a story.

What is your preferred structure of a pitch? (i.e. straight to the point, lots of background, subj line that says “Product pitch”)

Straight to the point is best. Lots of supporting details are fine, but I need to be able to tell after reading the subject line and first couple sentences whether this is something I’d want to cover.

What are some best practices that you would suggest PR people to follow?

Unless you’re leaking sensitive information, use email and wait at least 24 hours before following up. (If you’re pitching an exclusive and need to hear back in less than 24 hours, feel free to mention that in the email. If you need a *really* quick turnaround, like just a couple of hours, you should probably rethink your strategy — or failing that, just pitch someone else.)

If I say “no thanks” to a pitch, do not argue with me or ask for a justification. If you do, you’ll find that I stop responding to any of your emails very quickly.

What are your thoughts on media publications having a paywall? Do you believe more publications will go towards that model? If so, why?

I think it’s smart for top-tier publications, but it’s tough for smaller, lesser-known sites to pull off. I doubt it will spread much further except maybe, mayyyyyybe through a bundling model where one subscription gets you access to multiple sites.

How does a paywall affect the reporters of the publication?

You’d probably have to ask someone who writes for a paywalled publication. I suspect it depends on the kind of paywall. If it’s a “leaky” paywall like the New York Times, then the effect is limited. If it’s a stricter paywall, that can limit the impact and reach that a story has, which could discourage writers.

Quality vs quantity? Do you find your audience is more interested in digestible short stories or do you think readers are more interested in more investigative research?

Readers are interested in both, but you have to earn their time. They’ll read thousands of words if the story has genuinely original reporting or analysis, and it’s packaged in a compelling way.

Best movie ever?

His Girl Friday, with Band of Outsiders as a close second.

For a mix of media, pop culture and advertising news, be sure to follow Anthony on Twitter @AnthonyHa.

For all things enterprise tech and cloud computing, be sure to read our previous On The Record:  With Sal Rodriguez of Reuters.

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