Pitching Your Product to a Journalist

In my spare time, I run a tech news site, and I am constantly getting bombarded with pitches to cover everything from code packages, to SAAS apps, to new tools and utilities. Including things like this is why I initially started the site and I love it.

I love helping people by boosting interest in what they’ve spent their time creating, and I love the relationships it brings.

One of the downsides is time. I have a set number of hours every night that I can dedicate to the site either through writing new posts or managing the business side. But with a full-time job, a family, and other hobbies it’s honestly limited.

If you are making a pitch to me here are some things I am looking for:

  1. A Heads Up. Giving me a heads up that you will be launching in a few days is fantastic, and it helps me plan a post to coincide with your launch. That helps both of us. But I need a press release, so I can sit down and write it. I can’t follow up with 100 questions. I will honor an embargo, but I will not sign an NDA.
  2. That I can understand it. You’d be surprised how many things people send me that I have no idea what it is. I’m not going to waste my time attempting to figure it out. I’ll move on.
  3. That it’s ready. I will not cover your creation until it’s fully launched. No landing pages, no newsletter signups. It has to be purchasable, downloadable, or usable or I’ll move on.
  4. That I understand the use case. Please give some examples of why what you’ve created is useful.

Remember I am not expert in your domain and all I want to do is write an article on it. I don’t want to spend hours trying it out, and I don’t want to make mistakes in covering it. Help me by explaining what makes your product unique, why the world should care, and what features are essential. The more you can help me the more I can help you.

I know this post comes across as selfish, but as I look at my mailbox with dozens of pitches just sitting there, I needed to document ways that we can better work together.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Growing up in a state where the interstates are littered with car tags claiming “first in flight” the history of the airplane and the Wright Brothers is a story I’ve heard since elementary school.

In fifth grade, I had the opportunity to take a field trip to the Outer Banks and Kitty Halk. At the time, I had no interest in the history behind it and didn’t think much of the sand dunes and museum.

I just completed reading the history of the Wright Brothers by David McCullough and it was a fantastic look at the lives of both brothers, their father, and sister Katherine.

Besides a history lesson, a lot of knowledge can be gained from this book.

The brothers drive and determination was unwavering as they designed, tested, and flew the first airplane. Before this, they spent years studying scientific journals and papers, then spent a great deal of time just watching the birds fly. All to gain more insight into what they were trying to accomplish.

When they put their minds to it they scraped by with the profits from their business never accepting any outside funding. This is in stark contrast to the Langley project:

Not incidentally, the Langley project had cost nearly $70,000, the greater part of it public money, whereas the brothers’ total expenses for everything from 1900 to 1903, including materials and travel to and from Kitty Hawk, came to a little less than $1,000, a sum paid entirely from the modest profits of their bicycle business.

Work ethic was another area that I really enjoyed. Here is a summation of a story when one of the brothers was in France for the first debut of a public flight.

The flyer arrived all torn up and had to be rebuilt. A wealthy man allowed him to use a big room in his business as a workshop and even gave him men to help with the rebuild. These men could barely understand English and were more of a hindrance, however, Mr. Wright kept the same work schedule as the other workers. When the lunch whistle blew he took lunch. When the end of day whistle blew he went home. Neither brother ever worked on Sunday and it seemed like they knew all the pieces would come together at the right time. Unlike many of us today.

Neither brother ever talked about bad about a competitor and was always humble. Even after being ridiculed in the papers as loons, liars, and idiots. A much different world than what we see from leaders today.

If you are interested in learning more about the brothers you can buy this book on Amazon or start a free trial on Audible and Get it free

“You are not your code” is offensive

“You are not your code” is a popular saying in developer circles with the idea being that the code you create is just code, and you shouldn’t be offended if someone points out faults, makes jokes, or is pessimistic toward it.

In order to spend weeks, months, or years building something you have to have an enormous​ amount of passion for it. This intensity​ is what drives you to wake up day after day to work on it. It’s not just “code” to you. It’s a part of you. It’s a love affair.

To me, it relates back to school projects. If you put in the work and really tried then received a bad grade it’s personal. If you are lazy, don’t care, and just turn in the minimal who cares if you get a bad grade because you are not the work you put in. Maybe that is the difference between why the saying is offensive to some and not others?

Take this guy who built his own log cabin by hand:

If you were invited to come see it as his guest would you start pointing out the flaws in his work? If you did would he want to punch you in the face? Or would he say, no big deal it’s just nails and wood? You and I both know he’d be offended.

When you put yourself out there through any creative endeavor you are being vulnerable. You are sharing a part of you that isn’t natural and to be slighted is like taking a dagger right in the gut. It hurts.

Unless feedback is specifically asked, it’s best to point out the positives and keep your complaints to yourself.  As the old saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments below.

MLK on Slavery in Strength to Love

Today in the USA we celebrate the life of the civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr.

As I think about his life I’m reminded of an excerpt I read from his book Strength to Love:

Men convinced themselves that a system that was so economically profitable must be morally justifiable. They formulated elaborate theories of racial superiority. Their rationalizations clothed obvious wrongs in the beautiful garments of righteousness. […] Religion and the Bible were cited to crystallize the status quo. Science was commandeered to prove the biological inferiority of the Negro.

He continues…

So men conveniently twisted the insights of religion, science, and philosophy to give sanction to the doctrine of white supremacy. Soon this idea was embedded​ in every textbook and preached in practically every pulpit. It became a structured part of the culture. And men then embraced this philosophy, not as the rationalization of a lie, but as the expression of a final truth. They sincerely came to believe that the Negro was inferior by nature and that slavery was ordained by God.

Years later and this can describe many of the race relations still facing our nation. He then brings it all back to this verse in Luke that quotes Jesus before his crucifixion:

Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.

Dr. King was also a Baptist Minister and by tying it back to these ten words it would have been a powerful statement to those he was trying to reach.

Freebie: Heroicons UI

Heroicons UI make the perfect fit for any in-app UI. Their soft edges and consistent 2-pixel​ stroke give them a friendly personality​ that work great for both professional and playful UI’s.

This is a great new icon set by Steve Schoger that he decided to release free under the MIT license.

Steve Jobs on Creating

one of the ways that I believe people express their appreciation to the rest of humanity is to make something wonderful and put it out there
and you never you never meet the people
you never shake their hands
you never hear their story or tell yours
but somehow in the act of making something with a great deal of care and love > something’s transmitted there and it’s a way of expressing to the rest of our species our deep appreciation.

I love this so much. When I create things I take pride in it and put a great deal of care and love into it. That’s why I find the statement, “You are not your $creation” so offensive.