We have been reaching out to journalists and media professionals to chat with them about their experiences in the industry. For our latest ‘Questions for Journalists’ we had the opportunity to interview Alastair Goldfisher, venture capital editor for Buyouts Insider, contributing to Venture Capital Journal and PE Hub. Alastair primarily reports on venture firms and their startups, pretty much anything to do with fundraising, investment trends, sector analysis, personnel news and other topics worldwide about the VC industry. Alastair has worked as a business journalist since 1994. He’s been with the Buyouts Insider group since 2003. Previously, he was the founding editor of California CEO and before that was a reporter with the Silicon Valley Business Journal. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What piques your interest/curiosity about a story?
Whether it’s a story I’m reporting and writing or maybe one I’m editing or reading, what interests me the most are people. Does the narrative contain an interesting person? Is the story useful for our readers? Is there a lesson I or our readers can learn from and relate to based on someone else’s experiences? Those are some of the questions I think about when considering whether a story piques my interest. It’s the human element.
Of course, not every news item falls under the people umbrella. But looking for a people angle is a great place to start.
What’s the one story that you would most like to cover?
Ideally, I want scoops. So the story I most want to cover is one that has not been reported yet, but in which I’m the only one who will learn about it and first to cover.
That doesn’t happen every day. Which is probably why I drink so much coffee.
So the stories I aim to cover are the ones that are top of mind, have meaning and impact for our readers.
Within venture capital, there are many stories that are getting a lot of coverage, such as valuations, exits, fundraising, investing overseas, H-1B visas and diversity in the VC community.
I’m a Gen Xer, but I also am fascinated by the Millennial generation and how they are impacting venture capital. I’ve spotted many startups that are targeting Millennials. And I’ve seen how Millennials are influencing the venture community itself, with the generational transition taking place at firms. I believe there are many stories to be told about how those born after 1980 are rising up in the partnership ranks at firms, launching new funds themselves and investing on their own as angels.
Chances are they will be doing this for the next 30+ years, so I’m taking note of how they work and interact with startups and their VC peers.
What advice would you give to PR professionals about working with journalists?
Funny you ask. Recently, I received a pitch from a PR pro. It didn’t resonate with me and was not directly related to my coverage area. I ignored it. Unfortunately, the email mistakenly was blasted to me and more than 460 other journalists at once. Our addresses were not hidden, but they were listed for all to see. So when a couple of journalists complained, with reply all messages, it started a chain of more than 30 messages to everyone on the email.
That was annoying. And it was avoidable.
I often I see my journalist peers shame PR people on Twitter and other social media sites. Even if the PR person’s identity is kept hidden, complaining about misguided pitches like that is not the most effective way to help people in the PR community. It’s especially not going to help the young people new to PR who are often given the grunt work at sending out countless emails to me and other journalists.
They need positive feedback.
Mistakes happen. We’re all human. So my first advice is don’t get discouraged. Ask questions, solicit feedback, and if things don’t go your way, don’t take it personally. Just be an adult, move on and try again.
Apart from that, there are basic tips I’d like to suggest. Do your homework about what journalists and publications you reach out to, spell people’s names correctly, keep an open mind, ask questions of your PR peers and of other media professionals, and don’t be a jerk. That last one is good advice for everyone!
I have a lot more advice on this topic, and I wrote a Medium post about it a couple of years ago.
Thanks for sharing your insight with us, Alastair!
Have a story you would like to share? Let us know on Twitter at @PRTheAgency or in the comment section below!