If you are currently a journalist (or formerly practiced this noble profession) and are looking…
Joining us this week on Coffee with a Journalist is Manasa Gogineni of VentureBeat. As a reporter at VentureBeat, Manasa covers funding, announcements, and news for Enterprise tech companies. She’s also a senior Regents Scholar at UC Davis writing an honors thesis along with directing the Davis Political Review.
During the episode, Manasa starts off by sharing how she flags sources that land in her inbox, why she prefers personalized pitches that are timely and comprehensive, where you can pitch her (besides email), and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Her Work Inbox
BB: Well, let’s talk about your inbox. First of all, as we heard, you cover funding, you cover announcements, enterprise tech, all this stuff for VentureBeat. What does your inbox look like in terms of pitches?
MG: Yeah, it’s kind of a mess. I just have a lot of them. And yeah, I get a lot of emails.
BB: Yes. And how do you sort through them?
MG: It kind of varies honestly. So I do like star things that are interesting. I star them; yellow star and a red star.
BB: What’s the yellow star for versus the red star? How crazy is it in there?
“So I have two stars, yellow and red. So yellow I use for pretty much everything. Like it’s just my general, is this interesting, or is this important? Or I want to make sure I don’t lose this email for whatever reason. That can be like an interesting pitch or like maybe I need to like remember someone’s like contact info, etc.”
MG: Very crazy, but it’s like a good kind of chaos. A lot of interesting pitches, a lot of emails. A lot going on there.
Her Thoughts on Pitches
BB: Okay. They’re just there. They’re just lost forever. All right. So as you’re thinking about stories that you want to pursue, and I think you mentioned earlier when we were talking before you get maybe 20-ish pitches a day or something. So like you’re getting a lot of pitches. How many of those convert to actual stories?
“My favorite sources always follow up one time if I don’t reply.”
MG: I think it really depends on things like my workload, and also the kind of time required for a story. Some pitches are very comprehensive in that there’s a very clear story. And it’s very timely, and it’s important, and it’s interesting, all those good things. And then some pitches are just not really going to do anything, like they don’t really have any purpose. And in the middle, there’s some that are like they have something that’s important or interesting, but not everything I need for a story. And so I would say on average, maybe, honestly, I’d say like one in 50 pitches if you’re like the personalized ones.
How She Writes Stories
BB: Ooh! That’s a little ratio. Yeah. Gotcha. Okay. So not a high conversion on that. But then I must add, like for the story you were doing, and I know you’re doing the newsletter for VentureBeat on the Daily. So that’s consuming a lot of your time. But a story you did in February, early this year, you were saying, “Oh, this is an enterprise.” You were talking about a conversational AI, connects to customers in this cool way.” How’d you get that story idea? Are you like on a walk? Are you on a – Are you taking a shower? Are you doing like – Just where’s the inspiration for stories come?
MG: Yeah. So I think as far as inspiration goes, reading the news like doesn’t really like directly inspire me, but it just kind of gives me a better sense like what’s going on. And it kind of informs me about what I might care about in terms of the overall landscape, but definitely like going on walks. I go on a lot of walks these days.
“And then also talking to other writers, and then also just still like going through my inbox and like maybe having my interest sparked by like a different pitch, or founder, some interesting detail of a story.”
MG: Yeah, exactly. It’s like take a notebook with me, and then I’ll jot down some thoughts. They usually aren’t that great, but it helps. And so I think it’s a combination of that. And then also talking to other writers, and then also just still like going through my inbox and like maybe having my interest sparked by like a different pitch, or founder, some interesting detail of a story.
BB: Okay. I think the key element out of this just a little part of the conversation is simply you have a low entry, or a low chance I should say, of a conversion. So people need to really personalize and know what the heck you’re doing in writing in order to break through, and get the star. Get the star.
Here, Manasa talks about her belief when it comes to reporting:
MG: I want to write honest stories.
BB: Ooh, expand on that. Honest stories. Tell us a little bit more. You don’t want to write a story that’s like the first ever most awesome AI is…
MG: Oh, yeah, yeah. And like, I mean, I’m speaking for most journalists when I say I want to write honestly. I think every journalist does. But I think, often, people like whether they’re PR teams or even like individuals or anyone, I think they often expect things to be kind of like a publicity move for them when you’re covering them. But my goal is always to actually represent things accurately, like not really distort what’s actually going on. And so I try my best to be honest and not over or underpraised what’s actually going on.
BB: Okay. Actually, before we get to the future of journalism, we do have an audience ask. Here we go. Whitney Wells is asking, “How do you feel about engaging with PR folks on Twitter or other social channels? Have you had success with this from a sourcing or pitching perspective before? What would you say?”
MG: Yeah. Honestly, what happens a lot in my inbox is that I try my best to go through things, but I think I just – As a lot of journalist, I’m just very stretched for time, even when I’m not like super active on Twitter. It does catch my attention. Like I will see it pretty soon after. So I’m pretty open to Twitter DMs. I’ve had some really great people reach out in there and then also follow up with email and that way I can make sure I don’t miss like any interesting pitches. But social media is up for grabs. Like I’m super okay with that.
BB: Okay. I think the bell is loud and clear on that, social media. Now, can we clarify a little bit more on that? Because I know some people are like, never ever find me and DM me on Instagram. Like do not send me the in-mail on LinkedIn. Do you have any specifics more for that?
MG: I have so many specifics about this? Because I think –
BB: Okay. See? I’m glad I asked more.
MG: Yeah. And also like I’m like a very particular person. It’s like a lot of people aren’t as like weird as I am. Twitter, pretty much fine. I don’t really have any heart. I don’t really have any like concerns about Twitter, like it’s usually pretty manageable. LinkedIn, however, I get a lot of pitches on LinkedIn. And they’re mostly fine.
BB: Really? On LinkedIn?
“So I’m pretty open to Twitter DMs. I’ve had some really great people reach out in there and then also follow up with email and that way I can make sure I don’t miss like any interesting pitches.”
MG: A lot of LinkedIn pitches. And, honestly, I feel like it’s easier to just get them by email. And like I’m not even that active on LinkedIn. And Instagram, I actually just reactivate my account. So I haven’t received anything, but I don’t think I’ll receive anything.
BB: Oh, good. You’re clear for now. Let’s keep it that way.
MG: Yeah, I don’t think it’ll probably won’t change. I think where I draw the line is like I don’t like when people search up my information. Like there’s a different thing like Twitter and then finding like my school email to email me or like down voicemails. Yeah, and I don’t know, that it feels a little bit too much. But yeah.
BB: Yeah, interesting. Okay. LinkedIn pitching. No. School email. No. Do not do Instagram. I’m really – There are a lot of things going on here with this. So okay, now we know the rules for social media stuff. But would you have to say inbox email to your correct email, by the way, is still the way to go?
MG: Yeah, I think inbox. Yeah, inbox is good.
When it comes to pitches, Manasa wants them personalized, comprehensive, timely, and newsworthy. She also appreciates a follow-up email if she hasn’t responded yet. If you’re thinking of pitching Manasa, check out our funding pitch template to help you craft a pitch that includes all the most important information.
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