skip to Main Content

Coffee with a Journalist: Jeremy Owens, MarketWatch

Coffee With A Journalist: Jeremy Owens, MarketWatch

This week on the podcast we sit down with MarketWatch’s technology editor and San Francisco Bureau Chief, Jeremy Owens. Prior to MarketWatch, Jeremy was an editor for San Jose Mercury News, The Examiner, and The Argus.

During the episode, Jeremy tells us how he’s vetting pitches, his extremely busy role as an editor and bureau chief, why MarketWatch doesn’t cover exclusives, and more.

Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:

 

What Does MarketWatch Cover?

[00:02:04] BB: Perfect. You’re killing it already. Jeremy, for those who are maybe not as familiar, could you give us a snapshot of what MarketWatch is? 

[00:02:14] JO: Well, it’s not a marketplace, as most people expect. I can’t tell you how many times I tell people I work for MarketWatch, and they go, “Oh, what’s Kai Ryssdal really like? I had to be like, “No, no, no. no. Different, different, different.” 

MarketWatch was actually one of the first financial news websites ever created. It democratized financial information in a way that had never been done before. Offering real lifetime live information on what’s happening in the markets. Most people would wait until the next morning’s newspaper at that time, when we were founded 25 years ago. To find out what was happening, you had to pay a lot of money for that information to get to you in a live format.

“MarketWatch was actually one of the first financial news websites ever created. It democratized financial information in a way that had never been done before.” 

MarketWatch brought that to the web and a real web 1.0 way that broke barriers and was something extremely important. Since then, it has been purchased by CBS, which helped to establish it. Then it was sold to Dow Jones, home of The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s and other financial media. That is our current home. It was actually established in San Francisco, and this was the headquarters for it throughout the dot-com boom and bust and beyond. 

Now, Dow Jones has kind of made New York the center of all of this stuff, as obviously it also does with the Wall Street Journal and its other properties like Barron’s, and had to establish San Francisco as more of a bureau than as the former headquarters that it was, and I was brought in about seven years ago to kind of manage that.

 

His Thoughts on Subject Lines

[00:06:57] BB: That, of course, begs the question. What makes you open an email? It must be in the subject line.

[00:07:03] JO: Yeah, the subject line. I typically see the first sentence.

[00:07:07] BB: Yes, okay.

[00:07:08] JO: So it’s going to depend first on who it’s from, right? Is this a person or a company I have dealt with before that I trust to only contact me if it’s absolutely necessary for me to know? That is the number one thing I’m looking for.

“Is who is sending me this email. Have I dealt with them before? Is this important to me?”

[00:07:24] BB: Name recognition.

[00:07:26] JO: Is who is sending me this email. Have I dealt with them before? Is this important to me? That’s not always – I mean, a lot of the emails I don’t open are also internal. The opinion editor is sending out, “We’re handling this.” So I don’t need to know that. It’s sent to everybody, whatever. It’s not always name recognition, and then you get to the subject line, and you get to what are they trying to get me to look for? Is it exclusive in any way? Is it access, right? That kind of thing. Is it absolute news?

“​​Remember, I’m the editor, right? So I have a whole team working below me, and a lot of times the reason I don’t open that first email is because I assume it also went to my reporter.”

I mean, I’ll tell you this, I shouldn’t tell people this, but the subject line that will always get me to open an email is correction with this, right? If somebody is asking, has a problem with a story that’s been published, I will open it. Now, if you sent me that email, and you’re not actually requesting a correction, you just have a problem with the headline, or you’re just trying to get my attention, you’re going to get a not very nice phone call from me because when I see somebody requesting a correction, I’m probably picking up the phone.

 

His Thoughts on Exclusives & Embargoes

[00:13:11] BB: Okay. Exclusives or embargoes, do you prefer either?

[00:13:15] JO: I mean, I will open an exclusive because typically I understand that, especially if it’s communicated in the subject line. If you don’t take this, it’s going to somebody else. But I also have to – I get a lot of offerings for “exclusives” from startups that are getting funded or anything like that, and we don’t really cover that, right? MarketWatch covers the public markets. We cover stocks. We cover the public market. So we get a lot of those types where I’m not even going to open it because it’s like, “Yeah, I really don’t care about your angel investment. Like that is not even close to what we tend to cover.” 

[00:13:52] BB: God. That’s just bad pitching, though. That’s just bad pitching, Jeremy, because anyone would look and go. Or that but come on.

“MarketWatch covers the public markets. We cover stocks. We cover the public market. So we get a lot of those types where I’m not even going to open it because it’s like, ‘Yeah, I really don’t care about your angel investment. Like that is not even close to what we tend to cover.’”

[00:13:59] JO: Or desperation, right? You were trying to open this up for as many people as possible. It depends on – If I can see that somebody is just, I will sometimes answer like, “We cover public companies.” If it’s somebody I haven’t seen in my inbox before, if I understand they’re kind of new, maybe if they work for an agency that I have worked with before, but I’ve never seen their name, right? Just a quick, “Hey, we only cover public companies.” A six-word email can keep you from getting those emails in the future.

Now, the frequency with which I do that is lower than I probably should. But again, as I’ve said, I get 100 emails a day, so it’s kind of hard to find the time.

 

His Pitching Requests

[00:14:38] BB: Wow. That’s compounding emails, gets you to almost 200k. Okay. Dang, Jeremy. I’m getting stressed out right now, just listening to you. Okay. If there were to be three elements to a great pitch, what would they be to you? 

[00:14:56] JO: Well, like I said, exclusive and embargo are always ones I’m going into answer and access, right? Are you going to give me a decent exec, right? Are you going to put – If I asked you, “Are you putting anybody interesting on the phone with me and why? What is the news,” those are the things I’m going to be looking for if I bother to open the email, right?

If you have an exclusive, if you have an embargo, if you offer an access, like it makes me opening that email more likely. But the actual like, “Okay, I’m going to do something with this,” is the exclusive in any way newsworthy or the embargoed information? Is the executive you’re offering me somebody interesting who will actually say something, instead of repeating whatever you put in the email over and over again, right? Is this actually interesting news or important news from a financial viewpoint?

“If you have an exclusive, if you have an embargo, if you offer an access, like it makes me opening that email more likely.” 

I think that’s what I try to stress when I talk to people about MarketWatch from the PR side is we care about finance, right? Nobody else is going to care about a stock split, but we will, right? On the other side, other people may care about some of the squishy stuff or the new platform or the updated redesign. Unless you can tell me how that’s going to affect your profit and revenue, I don’t care. 

[00:16:11] BB: There you go. 

[00:16:12] JO: I get AP to answer that, but that’s fine. We get AP copy, right? Even if like AP and I are on the same pre-brief embargo call, I’m probably looking for something different because I’m looking for what’s going to affect the finances. Where are we going to see the effects of this in the finance? That’s where you can really have an effect is this is going to affect our financial profile because of X, Y, and Z, and our CFO wants to talk to you about that. 

Okay. I know that’s a pitch angled for MarketWatch because, honestly, nobody else will stalk CFO, but MarketWatch might because –

 

________

 

Learn more pitch tips and insights from previous guests on Coffee with a Journalist in our journalist spotlight videos available for free on YouTube.

Want more tips from journalists?

Click below to subscribe to Coffee with a Journalist and receive weekly emails highlighting reporters, journalists, and editors and their individual pitching preferences.[/vc_column_text]

[/vc_column][/vc_row]

Jered is the co-founder, COO and support manager at OnePitch. He handles operations for OnePitch; along with strategy, support, business development and hiring. He studied Communications with an emphasis in marketing at Cal State University Long Beach. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, eating cheap street food, cooking, and exploring the outdoors.

Back To Top
Search