Our guest on the show today is Angela Moscaritolo, smart home and wearables analyst for PCMag. She reviews fitness trackers, smartwatches, robot vacuums, connected exercise equipment, and more. You can check out one of her interactive articles here (hint: hove your mouse over the graphic to view rooms & products).
During the episode, Angela tells us about all the products she gets to unbox and review, the components of a pitch she looks for most, her love for yoga, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Her Work Inbox
[00:06:53] BB: I know. You just did one on robot vacuums for pet hair. Yes. Robot mops. Oh, I got to look at this. I didn’t even know – Oh, those are in mop form now. That’s good to know. Fitness trackers, wow! Now that we got that scheme, what about your inbox? How absurd is it in there?
[00:07:13] AM: So I was reviewing the Apple Watch Series 5 recently, which is one of the biggest things of the year for me. It’s like when Peloton comes out with something new, or when Apple comes out with a new fitness or smartwatch thing, it’s like, “Okay, drop everything. And that’s your focus.” But I sort of ignored my inbox for maybe like three days. I almost just like checked for like important messages from like if there was anything like that I needed to address. And then I went back to it yesterday after I finished the project. And I have like 500 in there, which is like, “Oh my gosh!” Yeah, I get a lot. And most of them are not relevant. Because I used to cover news, so I’m getting a lot of like people that are still thinking that I cover news. Or even before I covered general consumer tech news, which is what I did for PCMag, I worked for a magazine called SC Mag. It stands for Secure Computing. It’s all about hackers and things. So I still get a lot of like security pitches. And I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t cover security at all anymore.”
Most of what was in there this morning, I have cleared out. But I go look at my sent folder. And this morning I was emailing with iRobot, which makes the Roomba robot vacuum, and then also Roborock. They’re two PR people who I have relationships with. And the reason being is that we’re coming up on Black Friday in a couple of weeks from now.
“Yeah, I get a lot. And most of them are not relevant. Because I used to cover news, so I’m getting a lot of like people that are still thinking that I cover news.”
[00:08:41] BB: Yes, we are. Which must be like your Super Bowl.
[00:08:45] AM: Oh my God! Yeah, it used to, because I used to cover deals a lot more. But even so, general consumer tech. Yes, absolutely. And robot vacuums are always superhot. And there’re so many deals on Black Friday on robot vacuums. So we’re like, “Okay, we need to focus for the next month.” Sort of prioritize those robot vac reviews. So my robot just came out with a new model. So I’m like trying to get them to send it to me. And I’m like, “Hey, if you send me your robot. I’ve been asking them for like a month.” And they’re like – What had they said? Actually, they said they were experiencing shipping delays due to high-demand. Yeah. And I said, “Well, if you send it to me, I’ll push it to the top of my list. And I really want to cove it by Black Friday.” Because they’re another one that people are really interested in the Roombas. So we’d like to get those reviews of those products that people want to read about.
[00:09:39] BB: Of course. Now, with those 500 emails you’ve got, though, do you have a system of filing? Are you one of the master leaders? Or you got a flag system? Or is there any method to the madness?
[00:09:50] AM: Yeah, I mean, I never understand people that delete email.
[00:09:55] BB: I know. That’s silly. You might miss something.
[00:09:58] AM: Yeah, right? Or you might need to reference it later. But I have like folders that I’ll do like air purifiers, Apple, different – CES 22, Consumer Electronics Show. We’re already getting pitches for that. Dog tech, or different companies that are like my main companies like that I work with like Fitbit, Garmin. I mentioned iRobot. And some of the fitness companies like NordicTrack and Peloton. So I have folders for them. Samsung. So I’ll file them away if I knew that. But I know I can always search my inbox if I need to reference something. Most of this stuff, if I don’t like address it right away and I’ll file it into like my smart home folder for like ideas later, usually I never get to it. But that’s like some of the stuff that’s promising. But, yeah.
Her Thoughts on Pitches
[00:10:52] BB: Okay. So of all the roundups and things you do, like the dog hair vacuum and robot – Okay. And you did talk about your fitness trackers. Do you have a way in which you create these stories? Or do they come from pitches? Or do you also know, “Well, these are the things I do. So I always do smartwatches. I always do fitness trackers. I always do gym.” Is there an inspiration center for you for stories?
[00:11:18] AM: We had some existing coverage areas when I came into the role. We had been covering robot vacuums, fitness trackers, smartwatches, heart rate monitors, things like that. But what my boss said was, “I want you to make this into your own and focus on what you’re interested in.”
So for me, that really meant going more in the way of the smart home gym equipment, the things like the Peloton. So what we do is we – And it goes both ways. Like there are certain ones where I reach out to them directly and I’ll say, “Hey, we really want to get this in.” And I don’t have a relationship with that company at all. And then I’ll reach out to them. Or sometimes they’ll reach out to me and say, “Hey, we have this new fitness thing.” And I’ll say, “Hey –” Like I’ll look in their pitch, like does it have app connectivity? If it doesn’t say that in the pitch, I’ll email them back and be like, “Is this smart in any way? Does it have a screen? Does it connect with an app?” So I do that thing.
“So the worst thing that they [sources] do is they’ll write the wrong name, or they’ll batch send me. I’m sure this is like so like 101 no. But it’s still happening.”
And then once we get like, five, six, like very good reviews, four star products or more in one certain category, then we’ll make a round up, the best smart home gym equipment. And then we’ll link all of our highly rated reviews in that category. So I’ve done one of them for smart home gym, and then smart air purifiers. And now we’re starting to break it out where we have enough for even like the smart stationary bikes, and then the smart rowing machines. So we start going from there. You get the big ones in the category. And then you go into the smaller companies. But yeah, it really goes both ways in terms of people pitching me and then me reaching out to them directly.
And then once you have the relationship with the company, then you can go back to them again and again and say, “Hey, can I get this new product?” So we always try to keep those relationships up. And if the company has briefings or anything like that, we usually always take the briefings for our companies that we work with a lot.
How She Writes Stories
[00:02:42] BB: I love it. Now, as we just heard, you’ve been at PCMag since March of 2020. What a time to start. But you were also a reporter at PCMag. So you’ve now been the smart home wearable analyst since March where that whole pandemic started and such. Tell us a little bit just, for people listening. We don’t usually see or hear necessarily people on here that are analysts. So can you describe a little bit about the distinction between analyst versus reporter?
[00:03:09] AM: Right. So I was a reporter for PCMag for about seven or eight years before I came into my current role as an analyst. And I was covering news for about 10 years before that, at least, for newspapers, and then various tech publications, most of the time at PCMag. From a news standpoint, what I was doing was covering everything related to any Facebook updates or controversies they might have had.
“I have what we call rainy day products that aren’t really that high of a priority. And I sort of don’t accept many of them unless they seem really, really cool because I can limited space. But then I have my hot products, which are things that I get and then I unbox and I test right away. But yeah, tons of stuff. I mean, my inventory is like overflowing.”
[00:03:41] BB: Every day.
[00:03:43] AM: Oh, yeah. Anything online, new product launches, things like that. As an analyst now, I’m handling products. I’m working with the vendors to send me the products and review them. So I actually unbox them. I set them up. I write about the whole experience. Yeah. So it’s a completely different roll. The stories are much longer now, whereas before it was news. And I was working with sources. Now, I’m mostly working with vendors.
[00:05:54] AM: …Everything, it has to be smart. So with PCMag, that’s our angle. Like if it’s not app connected, if it doesn’t have a screen, or at least connect with your phone, I’m not covering it. So I’m doing like a top of the line stuff. Yes, so it’s a lot of fun. So the smartwatches, fitness trackers, fitness equipment, which is my main interest, and then a lot of smart home stuff too.
So a lot of robot vacuums, even things like smart displays. I love to review smart air purifiers as well. Even the stick vacuums from Dyson and other companies. We’re getting a little bit more into the stick vacuums. I pushed it into air purifiers as well just because that’s sort of my interest. It kind of aligns with the health stuff. So I’m either cleaning my house or working out.
For Angela, pitches must be related to the types of products she covers AND has a direct tie-in to actual technology (i.e. hardware and software). Be aware her inbox is pretty full and the more you follow up, the worse your chances are of receiving a response.
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