Media Insights: Interview With Lindsey Wilkinson, Reporter at CIO Dive
Understanding how to effectively communicate with reporters is key when securing coverage for clients, especially in technology, healthcare, supply chain, and other highly technical B2B industries. For the next installment of our media insights blog series, I caught up with Lindsey Wilkinson from CIO Dive to discuss how PR professionals can capture tech reporters’ attention.
Lindsey joined CIO Dive as an associate editor and was recently promoted to reporter. At CIO Dive, she regularly covers developing topics surrounding AI as well as breaking technology news. In our interview, Lindsey shares her expertise to help PR professionals get in the mind of a technology reporter.
Tell me a little bit about your background and how it’s led you to become an editor, and now a reporter, at CIO Dive.
A few years ago, I interned with a publication called Homeland Security Today, where I covered government technology trends, different technology reports, and tools that government agencies were using. So that’s what initially sparked my interest in technology and I ended up joining CIO Dive after I graduated from college.
In terms of PR pitches, what kind of pitches do you like to receive? Are there any PR practices you really like hearing from PR professionals and any that you really don’t like?
In my opinion, there’s not a specific formula to follow — I don’t see something and immediately think yes or no. Some things that I do really enjoy are when the source is clearly highlighted, answering “why does this matter?”, and including topics the source could speak about that are related to current trends, even if they might not necessarily be directly related to the initial pitch. Having that information is always helpful when we’re working on a different story down the line because we can reference back and see, “Okay, they can talk about digital transformation not just AI.”
As far as things that I don’t like: When it comes to coordinating interviews and additional steps beyond the initial pitch, changing a source at the last minute without notifying me can be frustrating. You work hard to make sure that your questions are applicable to the source you’re provided, so if the source changes it can get tricky. For example, talking to a source with a tech background is very different than someone who is on the marketing or product side.
How do you prefer being pitched? As a younger reporter, do you prefer Twitter over email or do you like everything being on email?
I really don’t discriminate. If a pitch comes at me on Twitter, then I’m just as receptive as I would be if it came to me via email. But at the end of the day, I do think I end up preferring email. Mostly because I’m on my computer all day long so that’s where I’m checking most. Honestly, it really just depends.
I have gotten pitches from LinkedIn and Twitter, it’s not a super big deal to me how I’m pitched to.
AI is a hot subject currently and I know you cover a lot of stories on the topic. What kind of stories around AI are the most interesting to you right now?
My guilty pleasure is case study stories where a tech leader can talk about an implementation project or use cases that they found really valuable — those are always my favorite and something I’m always drawn to. With our audience at CIO Dive, it’s important to use those stories about the wins to share pieces of advice drawn from those experiences with the technology leaders who read our publication.
Other than that, when a source has an interesting insight or a unique perspective that can push a narrative further, that’s always welcome.
When it comes to case study stories, some reporters only want to talk to the customer while others are okay talking to the vendor. What do you prefer?
While I would definitely prefer a customer POV than a vendor, I’m not opposed to reaching the customer via the vendor. Vendors are helping tech leaders so they are a part of the overall ecosystem/ So on some level, they’re a part of the story, too. But I think it’s most important to get the customer perspective.
You recently covered the ChatGPT Enterprise launch. When you’re covering breaking news, how do you feel PR professionals can be most helpful to you? Do you prefer sources to just provide commentary upfront? Do you reach out to past sources that you think might have an interesting perspective?
Honestly, it’s all of the above. I definitely reach out to past sources, specifically ones that may have previously mentioned something related to the news being covered. Taking the ChatGPT Enterprise solution as an example, if a previous source mentioned to me that they were waiting on an enterprise version of the tool then I would definitely reach out to them to see what their impression of the tool has been or what their take is.
On the other hand, I also think sources reaching out with their insights upfront can be super helpful when it comes to breaking news. It can be hard to get people to respond to you when you’re on a deadline and you need to move quickly, so sometimes getting that email really benefits the story and helps it move along.
So, both ways can be really helpful. Even if a source’s insight doesn’t end up getting used in the story, it shows me that the source has an opinion they’re willing to share and discuss. I might not use their insight in the breaking news story, but I have gone back later and done an interview that is then used for something else.
How do you determine whether a company or an executive is worth an interview? I know this can be a reporter or publication preference. Are there specific titles for sources you prefer? Do companies have to have specific valuations or is that something that doesn’t really have an influence on your decision to interview someone?
There are certain factors where it would be an automatic yes. For instance, a Fortune 500 CIO is an interview we will always take. Beyond that, it really depends on what the source is bringing to the conversation — is this going to push our narrative further? As I mentioned earlier, I’ll think about if they’ve done something unique or if their perspective is representative of a trend we’re seeing. If the source is a vendor, such as someone in a marketing position, we might not include them in an article even if they have great insight because at the end of the day, that’s not necessarily what our audience is looking for in a story.
So, there are a lot of things that go into why we would agree to an interview versus turning one down. The line is really situational.
Reporters often want PR pitches to be short and to the point, which could come at the expense of details about the client or thought leader. What is your take on receiving a longer pitch with more pertinent information versus a shorter pitch with fewer details?
It can depend on the type of pitch. If it’s a breaking news pitch, keeping it short is probably better. But if you’re pitching a source for an evergreen topic, including more information is OK. This could be when the PR professional puts some things in bold or uses bullet points to call out the key information. But overall, I wouldn’t take out important information, especially if you think it’s applicable to the pitch itself.
How often do you conduct informational interviews that you don’t necessarily intend to use for a story?
I agree to interviews all the time when I think something sounds interesting or if it’s about something I’ve been covering, even if it’s not for a particular story. However, it could become a story. Everything for me tends to be on the record even if it’s just informational because I think if you’re taking the time to have a conversation with me and we’re talking about something interesting, that is totally worth an article. Something may not be slated for a story, but then our conversation will go in a certain direction and it gets me thinking.
Do you have any advice for PR professionals when it comes to communicating and working with reporters?
My advice to PR professionals is to be over-communicative. You’re never going to be penalized for touching base or checking in, for example, letting the reporter know that a source had a title change. In that case, we want you to send us a message. Just being communicative helps us so much and can clear up any gray areas. It also just makes all parties feel better about the process as a whole!
Thank you, Lindsey, for taking the time to share your knowledge and reporter perspective with us, as well as some helpful tips for tech PR professionals. Get in touch with Walker Sands to learn more about how we can use our media expertise to support your business goals.