Voice of the media: Joel Khalili, staff writer at Techradar Pro

Francesca D'Arcy Orga

By in Blog
On May 29, 2020


London lorry Francesca D’arcy-Orga steps into the day-to-day life of a technology journalist to see how b2b companies can maximise exposure and enhance their existing b2b PR strategies.

B2b PR involves speaking to journalists every day. Knowing what makes them tick is an essential part of our job. We don’t fire off press releases and hope for the best, or pester reporters on the phone a few minutes after we’ve emailed them. At the lorries, we pride ourselves on building valuable, long-term partnerships with journalists, who come to us as much as we go to them.

But it’s not often we get to chat with a journalist who’s been in our shoes, which is why we jumped at the chance to sit down (virtually, of course) with former lorry and current TechRadar Pro staff writer Joel Khalili.

We caught up with him to get his insights into what life is like on the other side of b2b PR – including PR horror stories, the best time to pitch, and why he can’t stay away from our very own Sam Pudwell!

We have to ask… what’s the one thing you know now as a journalist that you wish you’d known as a b2b PR pro?

“Journalists are far less frosty than they might seem, so don’t be afraid to speak to them like a human. Looking back, my emails were probably a little too clinical and robotic.

That’s not to say pitches shouldn’t be clear and professional – and there still needs to be a purpose. But there’s also such thing as too much respect…”

Interesting! So besides talking like a real human being instead of a PR robot, what’s the best way to get your attention?

“Providing a colourful perspective is likely to open doors. But I know as well as anyone that this can be easier said than done, because most clients are naturally conservative!

It’s obviously important to media train clients, but sometimes overtraining a spokesperson can be crippling too. If everything they say is straight out of the media training playbook, there won’t be anything interesting for the journalist to write about.”

Can you put an end to the debate: what’s the best time to pitch you?

“I’m sure this varies slightly from publication to publication. But our news lists are set early in the day – usually by 09:00am – so if you’re aiming to be included in that day’s news, the earlier the better.”

How do you decide what to write about?

“For longer features, we’ll devise a few topics we think will chime with readers – ideally something that hasn’t been rehashed time and time again. Sometimes, that means jumping on a timely issue, or it can mean looking at an old topic from a fresh/more microscopic perspective.

If PRs can help us come up with new angles or offer up a compelling perspective on a current issue, that’s great.”

What’s the most common mistake/annoyance you see from PRs?

“Agreeing to provide a comment and then disappearing off the face of the earth is unhelpful – that’s happened a couple of times.

Clickbait subject lines are also common, as a way of jazzing up unsexy announcements – usually in ALL CAPS. Sometimes, they’re so egregious you just have to sit back and applaud.”

Without naming names, have you had any PR horror stories?

“This is more amusing than horrific, but we’ve received comment pitches that link directly to a story that’s already live on our site, starting with the line: “You may have seen the news that…”

We also receive pitches to generic publication aliases addressed to journalists that left years ago. RLYL’s very own Sam Pudwell is still pitched all the time!”

I’m sure he’ll be flattered to know he’s not been forgotten by PRs just yet!

So, if you’re a b2b technology company looking to make in roads with the top tier tech press, make sure you’ve got a timely and relevant story, understand who writes for which publication, and remember, journalists are humans too.

Building valuable, long-lasting relationships will help you stand out from the crowd and get your story heard. Get in touch with us and see how we can help at hello@rlyl.com.

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