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.

Crying Wolf

Living in a home with others causes you to get comfortable with them, to get complacent, and to get lazy. One example of this is when you need something from someone else.

If they aren’t in the same room, it’s easier to scream for them than to get up and address them properly​. This, of course,​ starts a pattern and before long everyone in the house is doing it and the ones on the receiving end will grow more and more annoyed with it.

One problem with this is when the unthinkable happens, and you need someone immediately​. Having someone run to you instantly might be the difference between life and death. Seconds matters. By training others in your house that your screams aren’t important, on that day you need them, they just might ignore you.

One easy change to speed up your JavaScript build times

I came across this Field Guide for Better Build Performance by the Slack engineering​ team and inside contained this gem which is mentioned in the monstrous​ Uglify Readme:

It’s not well known, but whitespace removal and symbol mangling accounts for 95% of the size reduction in minified code for most JavaScript – not elaborate code transforms. One can simply disable compress to speed up Uglify builds by 3 to 4 times.

Depending on your needs this can be a quick win for speeding up your build times.

GitHub, Tell me when it closes

Have you ever wanted to know when a GitHub issue or PR is closed, only to find out, when you start following it, you get swamped with tons of emails and notifications for every comment on it?

I ran into this for the first time a few months back and it was a nightmare. Every morning I’d wake up to notification emails with commentary around it that I honestly didn’t care anything about. All I wanted to know is when the issue would be fixed so I could update my code base.

If you’ve ever hit this, the kind folks at thoughtbot have a useful utility called, “Tell Me When It Closes“, that does one thing. Send you one email when an issue or PR closes. That’s it!

This is a utility that’s well worth bookmarking as I’m sure you are going to hit an issue in 2018 where you want this.

8 Years Ago

On this day 8 years ago a woman was in pain.

She tried walking to take her mind off it but nothing could soothe​. Her face would grimace every few minutes and I could tell she was miserable.

She insisted to visit the hospital but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to go to early and be sent back home. To save my marriage I reluctantly agreed. On the drive over I was calling family and internalizing how it would all go down.

When we arrived they took her vitals and rushed her to a room. The nurse came in asking hundreds of questions prepping us for what was about to occur. Minutes later the family started rolling in. Her dad couldn’t stop pacing.

Shortly after, the doctor sent everyone out. Finally, ​it was time!

In the blink of an eye, ​a glorious gift arrived. So small. So fragile. So wonderful.

On this day 8 years ago my second child was born.

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