This week on Coffee with a Journalist we’re joined by Hannah Murphy. Hannah is a tech reporter at Financial Times who covers social media companies including Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok. She also helps cover crypto and digital assets, as well as emerging themes, such as the ‘metaverse’. Click to the right to follow Hannah Murphy on Twitter and LinkedIn.
During the episode, Hannah talks about what it’s like covering crypto & social media companies, how she finds useful emails within her inbox, her preferred amount of time for an embargo, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Her Inbox & Pitches
[00:04:08] BB: It’s full time. It’s full time. Hannah, how is your inbox, and how do you keep it organized?
[00:04:16] HM: I’m going to say not very well. It’s pretty chaotic and out of control. I’m like hitting six figures on the unread emails. Look, I don’t often delete emails, but I do look up. I will save more deliberately. I look up search terms in my inbox when I need to write a story, and I need to find like an expert pretty quickly. It might be that I find someone that had been a pitch months ago, putting someone void on some particular topic. I look up that topic name five months later, and I’ll just reach out to them then and there. So, yeah, I use it to look up people to talk to for features in sort of real time. I keep those emails and dig into them when I need them.
“My beat, in particular, is social media, social media companies. So Facebook or Meta, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok. I also previously used to cover before moving over here four years ago. I covered crypto, and I still help cover crypto. It’s kind of spread between us. But now, I look perhaps more of the sort of intersection between social media and crypto. Then the final other area that I have been covering since I moved here has been cybersecurity.”
[00:05:01] BB: Okay. So you do you. It sounds like your inbox is your own personal Google.
[00:05:07] HM: Yes.
Her Pitching Pet Peeves
[00:06:18] BB: Okay. Keep your eyes peeled for that. Do you have some pet peeves of pitches Hannah? Then, of course, we could talk about what you love, hopefully, of pitches, if any.
[00:06:30] HM: Pet peeves?
[00:06:32] BB: Yeah, pet peeves.
[00:06:33] HM: I mentioned before, but get the name right. Or remember to put a name not an XXX holding –
“One is just like follow the money. We’re a business paper. Give me big numbers. If you’re telling me about a company, how do they make their money, their revenue streams, and monetization?”
[00:06:41] BB: Yeah, geez.
[00:06:41] HM: Holding line. I think pet peeves – Just making it specific to my beat. It’s very obvious sometimes when you get pitches that are not at all relevant to you in any – like there’s no stretch of the imagination could be relevant.
[00:06:57] BB: Yes, yes. Something like the Amazon deal day for Black Friday or like –
[00:07:02] HM: Right, exactly. Then repeated follow ups after that. Yeah.
[00:07:07] BB: Okay. Now, let me ask you that because I was just chatting with someone else on here about the art of the follow up and how those can be actually helpful. Do you ever like a follow up?
[00:07:18] HM: I think because, as I said, I kind of use my inbox as my personal Google, I don’t think a follow up necessarily helps. That said, if I have responded a first time and sort of interacted once and then not followed up later, it may be that I’ve just missed something. That inbox is a little out of control, as I said, so I think a follow up is fine. It might just be a nudge reminder that I need.
Her Thoughts on Exclusives & Embargoes
[00:07:45] BB: Okay. Then, Hannah, exclusives or embargoes, do you take either?
[00:07:51] HM: Yes to both. I saw a debate on Twitter today over the difference between a scoop and exclusive, and my understanding is –
[00:07:59] BB: Oh, and what did it say?
[00:08:02] HM: I think they were trying to say the difference between scooping like meaning your first, but perhaps others have the same story just slightly later, and an exclusive being totally original I guess by definition.
“I know it’s common practice among many journalists, but a ridiculously long embargo can sometimes be difficult, especially if you sign up to embargo and then someone else – something else leaks in that time you’re held to it.”
[00:08:16] BB: That strikes me. I kind of – That was just, obviously, my preference, but I’m like, “Oh, a scoop.” Like that’s kind of news you don’t – You’re not pitching a scoop. I don’t know. You know what I mean? Like as a PR person, I don’t want a scoop out there. All we need was sprinkle, no scoop. A scoop is – To me, it connotes like, “Oh, it’s bad. Oh, boy.”
[00:08:38] HM: Oh, really? Interesting.
[00:08:38] BB: I don’t know. That’s me. That’s me. It’s just on the PR side. Okay.
[00:08:43] HM: I mean, on the exclusives, yes, of course, if it’s the right fit of story, and it’s something – The best exclusives are ones that you would write if you came across the story yourself rather than you were offered it, and you would automatically think that this is great.
With regards to embargoes, yes, it’s sometimes useful to have time to establish the facts and speak to people before an embargo is lifted. I know it’s common practice among many journalists, but a ridiculously long embargo can sometimes be difficult, especially if you sign up to embargo and then someone else – something else leaks in that time you’re held to it. What do you do then? So you get these four-day embargoes. A little bit tricky. We tend to say no to those as much.
[00:09:35] BB: Oh, four days is too long. Yeah.
[00:09:39] HM: Unless there’s a good reason for it. It feels like a day or two should be enough but yeah.
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