Today’s guest on Coffee with a Journalist is Dan Bova, an editorial director of digital content at Entrepreneur. In his role, he oversees all of the digital content the team at Entrepreneur posts on a daily basis. Dan has worked for a number of news outlets and TV shows including Maxim Magazine, Stuff Magazine, The Alec Baldwin Show, and Jimmy Kimmel. He’s also written a humor column that has appeared throughout the USA Today network.
During the episode, Dan shares more about his role and responsibilities as editorial director of digital content, what types of pitches and content fit his outlet’s audience best, why he appreciates any sort of positive feedback, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
His Work Inbox
00:05:32] BB: Okay. That is helpful and I think it crystallizes for us as the role and the function that you play at Entrepreneur. Now into your inbox, do you have any way in which you keep it under control?
[00:05:45] DB: I wish to God I did.
[00:05:47] BB: No one has figured it out, Dan, it’s okay.
[00:05:49] DB: My inbox is what give most people nightmares. If I told you how many unread emails I have in my inbox right now, all those inbox zero people out there would probably start throwing up so I’m not even going to mention it. Just about six figures.
“Now, let me preface. That is not emails that I’ve ignored from people. There’s a lot of automated things that I get whenever something comes in.”
[00:06:06] BB: Oh! Wait! Wait! Wait! Wait! Six figures?
[00:06:10] DB: Yeah.
[00:06:11] BB: Is that what you said?
[00:06:12] DB: I did.
“I’ll also say, I’m not an ignorer of emails. I’m not. I swear I’m not, but I just get a lot. I could spend the next five months of my life deleting stuff, but I choose not to.”
[00:06:13] BB: So like there’s maybe 900 in there? No! You’re talking six figures. Whoa! Wait a second. Wait a second. There’s possibly like 350,000 emails and they’re unread?
[00:06:24] DB: Yeah, possibly. I don’t want to get into specifics here, but it’s pretty —
His Thoughts on Pitches
[00:02:34] BB: My goodness! Wow! This has already gotten interesting. Okay. This is fantastic. First off, Dan, let’s start with, for your role because usually, we go right into the inbox and “Oh! How crazy is your inbox?” and all that stuff. But would you for the sanctity of everybody’s just knowledge describe what the editorial director does?
[00:02:54] DB: Sure. Well, ask yourself, “What does God do?” No! I’m kidding. Editorial director at Entrepreneur.com means that I basically oversee all of the digital content that we put up on a daily basis. For people who do come to our site, they would see that there is quite a lot of content that comes through, through our contributor program, through our staff writers, through third-parties that we have content partnerships with. It’s kind of like a ringmaster kind of role, I guess. I do like to do writing when I can. I have a podcast that is a lot of fun to do, so I try to do a lot of different things. In terms of with publicist, I do get pitches, sometimes I take stuff on for myself. Often times, if I see something that’s interesting, I’ll pass it onto one of my staffers.
“Most of us, including myself are people with — who come from a writing background and you know what it’s like to be on the other side of it. Not to say that I’m a pleasant person or a nice person or anything like that, but sometimes, people just — they’re just completely off the mark and then you go, “Well, this is actually what we’re looking for.” Then they go, “Oh!”. Then they do give you something good, so it does happen.”
[00:03:51] BB: How often are you doing the pass off? You’re kind of like air traffic control in that sense. How often does that happen?
[00:03:57] DB: It happens pretty regularly. We have a pretty robust contributor program, so we have — enough content is never a problem for us, so we have a lot coming to us. I don’t forward every single thing that I get, but if there is something in there that’s interesting that I haven’t seen before or just peaks my interest for whatever reason, we’re always happy to take your new ideas.
[00:04:25] BB: Does that mean, Dan, you’re in control of this murky contributor network thing. Who says “yes” to potential contributor? PR people want to know.
[00:04:36] DB: A variety of editors. It’s not one person who does it. Our staff, we all take a look at pending applications, we all get pitches. It’s really a group effort. If someone is turned down from applying, we are happy to give feedback of, “Well, why not?”
How He Writes Stories
[00:07:56] BB: Oh my God! Okay. Again, this might depend in the interesting position you have there for Entrepreneur. But the coaxing or the creation of the story, and I always like to ask people like, what is it that makes you go, “You know what, that’s a story I want to pursue”? Like you have this one thing on Forrest Galante, it looks like, the fearless biologist getting a real job. You have something about — you kind of have all types of random stuff. You have Earth Day, inspiring travel. You’ve got all the tax time things. You got a rapper thing. You definitely have an array of things, Dan that you’re covering, travel, success, get a real job. Do you have moments that struck you for inspiration or a way in which you get those story ideas?
“My favorite sources always teach me something.”
[00:08:41] DB: For me personally, it usually starts with, I just love talking to people who do something very unique, or took a big risk, or just tried something that seems like slightly crazy and it worked out for them. I love at the core of all this, I love just the human story, telling someone’s story. In a broader sense, for content on Entrepreneur for me or for any of the editors, we’re always thinking like, “What is the reader going to get out of this? Is it an entertaining story? Is it an inspiring story? Or is it really going to teach you a lot and there’s a lot of takeaways here?”
What we’re not looking for is someone to say. “This is my company and all the great things we do.” We’re always looking at it from our readers perspective. We want content on our site that’s either going to inspire, inform or entertain people. That’s what we look for in the pitch, something that’s unique, something I haven’t heard before or something that’s maybe it’s not the most unique thing in it in the world, but it’s really taught me a lot. That’s what we’re looking for.
[00:09:56] BB: Okay. You don’t have necessarily like your inspiration process. Like, “Oh! I go on this, walk with my dog,” you take a long shower. There’s nothing kind of like that for you necessarily? You drink the coffee.
[00:10:10] DB: I drink 17 cups of coffee and then I run into a wall, and then I — no. It’s part of the thing that I kind of love about Entrepreneur, is that so many different types of people doing so many types of different things. To me, it’s more like the uniqueness of things that sort of float from outer space into my insane inbox and some of those things you just like feel compelled to click on and learn more. I feel like if I’m not interested in it, our readers probably are.
[00:10:43] BB: Could you tell us too for everyone’s edification here. What is the Entrepreneur reader? It sounds obvious. It’s of course entrepreneurs, but expand on that.
“Those stories of the person who gave up their corporate job, the first thing they did failed and they lived on their mom’s couch for a year and it finally took off. People love those kinds of stories.”
[00:10:53] DB: Yeah. It is a little bit broader than that. We certainly have readers who are entrepreneurs, small business owners who have been at it for quite a while. A lot of our audience are in a startup phase. A lot, a lot, a lot, particularly in the last past year are people who have a side hustle that they’ve just kind of getting off the ground. A lot of people are doing that. Then there’s a huge part of our audience that are just, they’re aspirational.
[00:11:22] BB: We call those wantepreneurs.
While Dan’s role as editorial director means he oversees most of the content at Entrepreneur that doesn’t mean he isn’t actively writing or reviewing pitches. If you decide to pitch him, make sure it’s interesting and something refreshingly new. Also make sure it’s not a sales pitch or else you might be left unread in his huge inbox of emails.
For more great 1:1 conversations with journalists from top-tier outlets, subscribe to the Coffee with a Journalist podcast to get the latest episode drops. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for other updates on our newest PR tips, tools, and best practices.