As an account coordinator (AC), 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. I believe this same concept should apply to all PR people who engage with reporters.
The theme of this blog series is: Making your job easier! My goal is to educate the PR industry and ensure that we are forming better 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.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Salvador “Sal” Rodriguez, a technology correspondent for Reuters, where he primarily covers enterprise software and the cloud. The two of us discussed how we, as a PR industry, can form more productive relationships with reporters. Prior to joining Reuters, Sal was a staff writer at Inc., where his editorial focus included Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Slack, Dropbox, virtual reality and tech diversity. Sal was born in Mexico, raised in Texas and earned his journalism degrees at Arizona State University.
What do you like to do in your free time?
During the weekends, I love to play soccer and play video games. Lately, I have been into NBA 2K, and I am starting to get impressed by games on the Nintendo Switch, such as Zelda.
What do you generally write about?
I usually cover the enterprise software and cloud-computing markets with a focus on Microsoft, AWS, Salesforce, Google Cloud and Oracle. Reuters is a news outlet whose key audience are folks working in finance, and our goal is to answer: “What’s the strategy behind this company and how will it affect the market?”
What kind of music do you listen to when you want to crank out content?
A couple albums that I like to listen to when writing include: Flower Boy by Tyler, Psycho Tropical Berlin by La Femme, as well as anything from Travis Scott.
What are your general thoughts about the PR industry?
There are two types of PR people.
Good PR people: Those who are good at their jobs because they care. They are the bridge between the client and a journalist. They constantly do their homework to ensure both parties are prepared. They customize their pitches and make it relevant to my interest.
Bad PR people: The complete opposite. Those who send spam pitches that are obviously a template will not get a response from me. The reason why I call it spam is because it is automated and a template.
What are some best practices that you would suggest PR people to follow?
The best time to pitch me is usually in the mornings on calmer days, obviously not weekends. I prefer to not receive phone calls. I respond best to people who I already know, hence why it is important to build an actual relationship with me. I like it when PR people provide an intelligent and unique angle. Finally, I would not recommend emailing reporters more than twice regarding a topic. Our jobs include looking through our emails so there isn’t a need to “bump this email to the top of your inbox.”
Pet Peeves about PR People:
Silent Listeners: I think it is wrong for people to sit in on briefings without formally announcing themselves. I have had countless situations where I ask a question, it goes quiet, then someone answers my question and in my head, I think, “Who is this person?” It just seems rude to not let me know that you are on the line.
Illegal Recording: It is illegal to record a phone call without each party’s consent in the state of California and several other states too.
Pitching at the wrong time: If you know that I cover Microsoft, you should know to not pitch me during earnings.
When a PR person claims to have a “Story Tip”: But is it really a tip? Let me be the decider on whether it’s a relevant story.
Exclusives and Embargos: I believe this has been trending lately but I am starting to ask this question to every PR person who provides me a press release under embargo: “Who have you shared this press release with?” It wastes my time when a publication breaks the embargo and notes themselves as getting “The Exclusive.”
For all things enterprise tech and cloud computing, as well as PR tips, be sure to follow Sal on Twitter @Sal19