skip to Main Content

We discuss all things relevant to: Best Practices, Journalists, Publicists, Roundups, Tech Events, Thought Leadership.

Coffee With A Journalist: Mary Ann Azevedo, FinLedger

Coffee with a Journalist: Mary Ann Azevedo, FinLedger

In episode 25 of the Coffee with a Journalist podcast, host Beck Bamberger is joined by Mary Ann Azevedo, Managing Editor at FinLedger. FinLedger is an emerging media outlet focused on fintech developments and news for financial services professionals. Listen in as Mary Ann discusses the rapid growth within the fintech space amidst COVID-19, how she and her team spot trends, and her organic approach to interviews and story conception.

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

 

Her Work Inbox

Beck:

Yes. God, I pray for the moms and dads, but mainly the moms for their sanity in this time. So, way to go. Well, while you’re doing all of that, you, as we mentioned, our managing editor of the FinLedger news. You also contribute to Forbes. You’ve also previously been a reporter over at Crunchbase News and a real estate reporter, Silicon Valley Business Journal. So you have been around and you know a lot about, of course, journalism, and we’re going to talk about that, but first I want to just chat about your inbox. How busy is it with pitches in there?

Mary Ann:

Well, it’s busy, but FinLedger is relatively new so I anticipate it’s only going to get busier over time. I can tell you that when I was at Crunchbase News, it was pretty crazy with the pitches. Just, I mean, the volume was insane. I can’t even tell you. Dozens, probably close to 100 or more per day, and it was really hard to keep up. I get a lot of pitches now, but again, we’re still relatively new. Not a lot of people know we’re out there yet, but as we grow, I anticipate-

Beck:

You’re bracing yourself.

Mary Ann:

… large volumes of emails, right? Yeah. To come in.

Beck:

For everyone who doesn’t know, do you want to tell us a little bit about FinLedger in a nutshell. It’s obviously FinTech-focused, but what can you tell us beyond that?

Mary Ann:

Sure. So we’re a new media brand, but our parent company is HW Media, which also owns HousingWire. It’s the sister publication been around for a number of years, very successful publication focused on the real estate and mortgage industries. So I originally joined HousingWire in June as FinTech editor. Our CEO, Clayton Collins, who’s very smart, very ambitious, saw the acceleration in FinTech that really was taking place largely as a result of COVID-19 and just so much happening and said, “This is something we need to do.” I’m honored that he tapped me to lead the efforts. There’s a ton going on in FinTech right now. So, that’s what we are. We’re focused specifically on the FinTech industry where we’re trying to cover it in a unique way, because there’s a lot of newsletters out there-

Beck:

There is.

Mary Ann:

… that talk about FinTech, but we’re really trying to hone in on very specific types of articles and really adding value, not just rewriting press releases.

How She Writes Stories

Beck:

Yeah. Well, tell us a bit about how you come up with a story you want to pursue. For example, you just wrote this piece on Galileo, the CEO, and what’s going on with that Utah-based company and what they’re powering and all that good stuff. You’ve done the Series A Funding rounds on FinLedger. You’ve done quite the variety. When you think of a particular piece and go, “Ah. Yeah, I want to do story X,” where does that story start from?

Mary Ann:

Okay. Yeah. I mean, previously I did a lot more breaking news. With FinLedger, we’re not really as focused on the breaking news. We’re more focused on taking breaking news and, like I said, connecting the dots, identifying trends, analyzing what’s happening in this space to make it interesting and valuable for our readers. So my favorite part of being a journalist is interviewing. I like talking to people.

Beck:

It’s fun.

Mary Ann:

Yeah. Clearly you’re good at it, so you’ve.

Beck:

I’m here all day.

Mary Ann:

But for example, talking to Galileo or talking to a new VC at Excel, I just… Sometimes… Because people ask me, “Well, what questions are you going to ask?” And I’ll say, “I can give you some, but I really don’t view my interviews as interviews.” I view them as conversations and I go in and I ask questions. It evolves, right? As the conversation goes on, I think of things that maybe wouldn’t have occurred to me prior. And then during the course of those conversations, stories start to come up in my mind, story ideas. So when I talked to people recently, I didn’t even go in with, “Okay, I’m going to necessarily write about this.” I just said, “Let me talk to them and see what they have to tell me.” I think that’s one of the keys of being a good journalist is listening.

Mary Ann:

Really, I know it sounds very basic, but it’s true. Just listening and asking questions. I always ask people, “Is there something I haven’t asked that it’s important for me to know?” Or, “What do you think is really important for my readers to understand?” That means I’ll be on the phone for a long time or on a Zoom call for a long time and maybe I’ll only use 40 or 50% of what we talked about, but those tidbits that are fascinating are really interesting. They’re the ones that develop into the good stories.

Beck:

So it seems like you use more of an organic approach. You let it roll around, see what falls out, see if there’s something there.

Mary Ann:

Sometimes I do with the interviews, but in general, it’s just what’s happening, to. Last week we saw a couple of things happening in the B2B payment space. So one company raising money, another reaching a certain milestone. So we put that together to make a trends piece. So you have to just pay attention, see what’s going on, and then see what kind of story you can make out of it.

Beck:

Do you ever get the idea for story via just a pitch? Is there any percentage of success that way?

Mary Ann:

I have. I think if… I have developed some really good relationships with PR people over the years and I think the key is if they can give me a very specific, something unique that their client can provide a unique perspective, that their client can provide that maybe another founder could not, for example, or a certain take on something, I’m all ears. So I’m totally open and have developed stories out of pitches. But I think the key for people when pitching is just keep it short, get to the point of why this would be of interest to our readers and just sum it up in a way that’s quick and easy for me to digest. Because we have plenty of pitches, plenty of things happening to choose from, so just get to the point.

Her Thoughts on Pitching

Beck:

Back to your inbox. So for the pitches that you are seeing in there, what makes you open a pitch or are you one of those people that opens every single pitch?

Mary Ann:

I do open probably a lot more of my emails than other journalists, which is probably one of the reasons why I’m just constantly so busy. Because I hear my other peers joke about how they never open their emails and things like that. I probably open too many of them, honestly. But subject lines are important, and I think people that are pitching should really put a lot of effort into making them enticing because a good subject line is really going to get the journalist to open it up. Once you open it up, I think the more customized your pitch is, I mean, it’s just common sense, the more likely a journalist is going to want to read it. I still get pitches from people who think I’m still at Crunchbase, for example. It’s not that hard to research a little bit.

Beck:

That blows my mind. You’re not the first person to say that, by the way. It blows my mind because if they’re using your now FinLedger email, what is even the thinking there?

Mary Ann:

Right. Right. Yeah. I think it’s really obvious to reporters or editors that when a PR person has not taken the time to research their current role.

Beck:

Clearly.

Mary Ann:

Yeah. Or what their publication is specifically focused on, even. Sometimes, even though people know that I’m in this new role, they’ll still pitch me things that aren’t relevant.

Beck:

Ooh, like what? Like what?

Mary Ann:

Just things that are just completely unrelated to the FinTech world, which may be interesting for sure, but just not something we would cover. So it’s like, “Just ask yourself. Think twice.” I don’t know if they’re just trying to meet quotas of sending out a certain number of emails or what, but you have to be realistic. I mean, if it has nothing to do with FinTech, then maybe I should not send that pitch, right?

______

As Mary Ann said, COVID-19 has rapidly evolved the technological space churning innovation and growth out of chaos. Amidst the hustle and bustle, it is important to stay grounded in your information consumption and avoid being led astray. In the age of “fake news”, check out our blog Identifying Misinformation and How Not to Perpetuate It

For more insights from great journalists like Mary Ann, be sure to subscribe to our podcast and follow us on Twitter for the latest updates and releases! 

Mathew Cruz

Mathew started at OnePitch in January of 2020 as a Marketing Apprentice. He currently serves as the SEO & Content Marketing Specialist handling content creation from social media to the OnePitch blog. Mathew studied Integrated Marketing Communications at San Diego State University. In his free time, he loves creating art, visiting museums, and traveling.

Back To Top