Our guest today on Coffee with a Journalist is Devindra Hardawar, a senior editor for Engadget. Devindra covers product reviews, analysis, and New York City’s burgeoning tech scene. He’s also a part-time film critic and co-host of one of the longest-running movie podcasts online, the /Filmcast.
During the episode, Devindra talks about his preference for personalized pitches, his thoughts on exclusives & embargoes, the many things he’s doing outside of writing stories, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
His Pitching Requests
[00:05:38] BB: There you go. Okay. We touched upon it a little bit on the video series that we did. So I want everyone check that out. But if you had to say the three elements of a pitch that you go, “Damn, that’s a good pitch,” what would those be?
[00:05:51] DH: Key words. A pitch that is directly related to something I like and I cover. I think those are the strongest ones. Something that tells me, “Hey, this is an important company or something coming from an important person or something new from a person who used to work at a major company,” something like that, like very clear, concise pitches with, “Hey. Also, this is an exclusive for you specifically.” The more somebody can personalize a pitch I think makes it the better for me. Yeah.
“I try to like go through my important folders, and I do have some like my favorite sources and stuff and favorite companies I have filtered so that they always hit the important folder.”
[00:06:17] BB: Yes, yes, yes. Okay. Is there a subject line you’ve seen lately that you’re like, “Oh, I loved it.”? Immediate open.
[00:06:26] DH: Immediate open. Probably like, yeah, exclusive news from former Apple executives, something like that. Like, yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve had something like that recently, and that’s helpful. They at least tells me, “Okay, I should prioritize this.”
His Thoughts on Exclusives & Embargoes
[00:06:38] BB: Exclusives versus embargoes, how do you feel about such?
[00:06:42] DH: I mean, honestly, I wish the world were more fair, and everybody just kind of had a way to get the news. I don’t mind embargoes because I think that’s the fairest way to get news out there. But if I’m working with a company, and I really know them, and I ask for an exclusive or the PR person offers an exclusive, I’ll certainly look at that. Those are always a good thing. It’s not something I prioritize too much because those stories tend to almost feel like PR in themselves sometimes.
[00:07:07] BB: Yeah, yeah. They can be lower quality, for sure.
His Preferred Lead Time for Stories
[00:07:36] BB: You mentioned on our video series about you want a week heads up. You’re planning a lot of things in advance, and you’re an editor too. So I’m sure that planning is more robust. What is it about the week that gives you enough time? Or maybe walk us through a little bit of why that is? Why do you need that lead time to do a good job on a story?
[00:07:55] DH: Basically, like my schedule is just like a Lego blocks. It’s a Lego blocks of stories upcoming and news hitting and podcasts I have to plan, things I have to plan. So it is just like if I need to fit something new into that Tetris puzzle, I need to be able to move other things. So that’s the key. I know that’s not always possible. Sometimes, companies just have like, “Hey, hey. This is being announced tomorrow.” That’s fine if I know you or I know your company or if it’s within my beat, and you’re just like, “Hey, we have this news coming in hot.” That’s totally understandable too.
“Then the main things I take are just like, hey, product review pitches. I do a lot of laptop reviews. I do a lot of like gaming hardware and PC hardware and things like that.”
But if you’re a new company, if you’re kind of launching something from scratch, I need time to prep a story, talk to you ideally, test out a product. That all takes time. Also, I’ll probably need to move other things around too. Yeah.
[00:08:37] BB: To accommodate that. So you better really know or have a relationship with you if you’re bumping some other stories I imagine.
[00:08:42] DH: Exactly. Yeah.
Learn more pitch tips and insights from previous guests on Coffee with a Journalist in our journalist spotlight videos available for free on YouTube.
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