How do you successful pitch the media so they write about your company?
That’s what I asked Brad McCarty, editor of The Next Web, a blog focuses on technology and business news and reaches 2 million unique visitors per month. I invited him to do this interview because he gets pitched constantly at his job and sees both effective and weak promoters.
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Brad McCarty, The Next Web
Brad McCarty is a technology writer and editor for The Next Web. Beyond writing, he spends his time working with small businesses (tech-related or otherwise) to help them find the better realities of what they do, then helping them to market those realities.
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Andrew: Hi, everyone. It’s Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy.com, home of the ambitious upstart doing a take two on my introduction here. Let me read it more carefully than I did the first time.
How do you successfully pitch the media so they write about your company? That’s the big question for this interview, and joining me is Brad McCarty. He is the editor of The Next Web, a blog that focuses on technology and business news and reaches two million unique visitors per month. I invited him here to talk about the perfect media pitch because he gets pitched constantly at his job, and he sees both effective and weak pitches. Brad, welcome to Mixergy.
Brad: Thanks, Andrew. I’m glad to be here.
Andrew: Hey, before we get into this thing, as a guy who’s listened to my interviews, do you notice that my intro are all prewritten, or does it sound more natural than it did just now?
Brad: It sounds more natural. I actually had no idea that you prewrote those. So, kudos to that.
Andrew: Thanks. I used to try to wing it, and then I saw Oprah was reading off a teleprompter the intros, and I saw Charlie Rose was reading them. And I realized, hey, you know what, these intros are really important to get right. Why don’t I do what the experts do and make sure I get it all in there tightly for the audience? All right. Enough about me and the back stage information on Mixergy, let’s get to you. How many pitches do you think you get a day?
Brad: Now, I would say an average day. Now, you have to realize that I get not only my own email which is, of course, direct pitches, but we also, between me, Martin Bryant and Zee Kane we are the three who are responsible for answering everything that comes into our tips@thenextweb and office@thenextweb. All of those emails as well, and so, between those two probably in excess of 80 to 90 a day.
Andrew: 80 to 90 pitches a day.
Brad: On any given day, 80 to 90 a day, yeah.
Andrew: And that’s to everybody or to you specifically?
Brad: To me specifically. I probably see 30 to 40 on a very consistent basis. A heavy day will be 50 to 60.
Andrew: OK. And how many posts do you oversee per day at The Next Web?
Brad: Between me personally and I also have to give credit where credit is due. I have Courtney Boyd Myers who is our East Coast editor who does a lot of our proofreading with me during my on-duty hours. I would say 20 to 30 very commonly. Now, obviously those numbers change. You’ll have your days when there’s just not anything going on, when the email box has been empty for a little bit too long, or when you’ve got days when everybody seems to be doing everything. And that 20 to 30 becomes 40 to 60. A given day, probably around 30.
Andrew: Oh, wow. All right. I’m so curious about how you can pump out that much content, but I want to stay focused. Maybe, we’ll come back as an aside. I’ll ask you about how you can get so much out there.
But for now, I want to stay focused on the person who’s listening to us, who has either a brand new business or, maybe, just a brand new product. In fact, maybe, it’s not even brand new. They just have something that they need to get the world to understand about because they believe that if the world finds out about it, they’re going to come over and, at least, experiment and try it and maybe, probably even, they believe that the world will love their product. So how do we get them this exposure? Give me one big mistake first of all that people in that situation make?
Brad: The thousand word email. That’s the number one mistake. Everybody has all of this information, and they want it all out there for us. And they want it in a format that’s really easy for us to access the story that they’re trying to tell. The problem is that nine times out of ten we don’t get told the story. We get told, here’s this product. Here’s 600 words of wall of text describing what this product does, and here’s this little blurb of information at the bottom that may tell you about the founder. It may tell you about the company. That’s the closest we get to the story.
Well, the fact of it is there are literally thousands of pitches, especially in technology, that are sent around the Internet every day. And so, the really important impressive ones to us are the ones that are a great story that have a great product attached. One of the ones I use as an example all the time is Mark Bao, the guy who did “Three Words About Me.” Mark’s an 18 year old kid, and he’s developing these really simple, really cool little toys that we love to play with, and then flipping them around and selling them two weeks later.
Well, the whole thing about Mark when we saw this was Mark just said, hey, I made this cool thing, and I think you’re really going to like it. I’m 18 years old. I’m in college. This is the third or fourth or fifth or whatever number Three Words About Me happened to be that he had made. So he had a great story to tell there. Send me something this big. Don’t think about something this big because the massive wall of text I don’t have time to get through, as much as I’d love to. So get away from the thousand word emails.
Andrew: It’s so interesting that you bring up Mark. I think I might have gotten emails from Mark from way back when he was nine years old. It’s always the same thing. He knows his story. His story is I’m really young and look at what I’m able to create. The age changes and the product changes, but the formula still is the same. And he gets it in there really short. I’m 18 years old. I created Three Words dot About dot Me or whatever the domain was.
Andrew: I’m 17 years old, and I created this other website over here. So I see that, but what if you don’t have a story that can be told in one sentence that formulaically? What if you need more time?
Brad: Convince me. If you need more time, probably the best thing to do is just tell me. I need more time to really sit down and tell you why this story is so spectacular, but don’t do it in the evening.
Andrew: Interesting. That first email, that’s not where you put it all in there.
Brad: No. No. Not at all. If you can’t tell me the whole of your story in really four or five sentences, then don’t do it in an email. I’m more than happy to sit down and do an interview, and I love to do these email conversations back and forth and really find out the story about things. You know, when I interviewed Dalton Caldwell of PicPlz, I had no idea who Dalton Caldwell was. I didn’t know about all of these other things he had done in the past, the parent business of PicPlz.
Dalton gave me a little teaser. He gave me that little thing that said, “Here’s PicPlz. Here’s what we’re doing with it. Here’s why we think it’s cool. Oh, and by the way, I’m also doing some other really incredible things that I know you hear this all the time, but I think I can convince you of that.”
And so, that turned into what has been now a three or four month continuously working situation with Dalton. Every time that PicPlz has had a major update, every time that I see Dalton Caldwell in my email inbox, I know that it’s going to be good. I absolutely treasure those.
There’s a team of a couple of people who were out of MIT. They now live out in the valley, and they do amazing stuff, and it’s the same story. They were two 19 and 20 year old kids, and they came out of MIT and they’re just blowing stuff out of the water. And I know that every time I get something from them, it’s going to be three or four sentences, and hey, if you’ve got time, talk to us, you know, whenever you get a minute.
Andrew: OK. By the way, I should tell the audience, too, that our connection stinks today, and if it looks really crisp to them, it’s because Joe, my editor here, is doing a wonderful job. What I’m hoping he is going to be able to do is take my video from my recording over here and take your video which you’re recording and piece them together because the video is not commonly as clearly to me as it usually does and neither is the audio.
If it sounds like, maybe, I’m not fully paying attention because I missed something, it’s not because I’m not paying attention. It’s because the Internet connection just stinks here today, and I don’t know why.
Onward and let me ask a follow-up question to the don’t send me a wall of text. What if it’s well written? A lot of people who send a lot of information spend tons of time perfecting it, making sure that they have just the right number of views and that they address every issue. What if it’s well written? Even a well written email that’s long, you don’t want.
Brad: Preferably not. There are exceptions to every rule, and I obviously can’t say that I’ve never read a thousand word email or made a story out of it. It has happened, and it does happen. A lot of times, especially over the weekend, those are my weekend posts. Those are my ones that I finally have a chance on a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon, and I can sit down and I can spend the right amount of time with those. Once I’m able to do that, then yeah, I can make a great story out of that.
So there’s no written in stone rule about it. If you really feel like the absolute best way to get my attention about something and to spark our interest as The Next Web is to send me the wall of text. Just make sure it’s good. That’s all I ask.
Andrew: That’s interesting. I think you may be asking for trouble over here because what you’re saying is don’t send me a wall of text unless you’re good, and everybody thinks that they’re good. Nobody thinks that their stuff…
Brad: I probably set myself up for failure.
Andrew: All right. I’m leaving it up to you. The other thing that you told me in the pre-interview, in the conversation we had before, was that if it’s something that needs to be explained with a lot of text, you prefer to have… Well, you tell them. What do you prefer?
Brad: The way that I sum this up is your press release is not your pitch. The press release is the supporting information of your pitch. And so, give me your pitch in three or four lines, and five or six if you have to, and then give me all the extra information as either an attachment or… I hate it when I get five or six attachments in an email. There are better ways to do that. I have some that I’m more than happy to talk about, but there’s a slight conflict of interest with The Next Web. So, I won’t talk about that unless invited.
If you have a ton of information, if you’ve got some video, some logos, you’ve got three or four testimonials from potential customers or people that you’ve pitched the product to before and they’ve talked about how much they loved it, then the great way to do that is just give me a bunch of attachments at the bottom of it. I’m okay with that. I understand that you may have a wealth of information that I really do need to see.
Andrew: Okay. All right. I get that. Keep it short. Put it as an attachment. What I’ve noticed, too, is that what some PR people do is they really keep it short at the top and then what they might attach they put under their sig line, and then you can go and grab it. But the summary at the very top of the email is key for you.
Andrew: The other thing you said is a story. I always tend to think is that what you want to know is the features about the…You want to know about the product. You want to know about what it does. You’ve said the word, story, now a couple of times here. What do you mean by story?
Brad: The reason that I say that and the reason that I focus so heavily on that is the fact that you can go and you can read the same basic release about an application or a device or what have you on literally 20 different websites. We all get the same pitch, give or take a few different words. What you may not get on another website because at the end of the day my job is paid for by page views. Obviously, if we don’t have the page views, we don’t have the advertising revenue.
And so, I want to provide something that isn’t out there to everybody else. So if you can tell me a good story about that, then not only does it give me the opportunity to give my readers a little bit of back story about you and tell them why, maybe, they should care about your version of your loyalty check in product, more than they should care about this other version.
But it also opens up the opportunity for me to go back to that at a later date and, maybe, do a case study for our entrepreneurs channel. Maybe, put you on the next web session. It’s my added value. So, is it a greedy thing? Absolutely. But it’s also because those are the types of things that we want to provide to our readers. We really want them to get in and get involved in what it is that makes up this crazy life that entrepreneurs and the developers lead.
Andrew: Can you give me an example of a story that’s not, I’m a young kid who created this website, because that story we’ve heard and that doesn’t apply to everybody. I’m looking for more examples so that my audience can say, hey, you know, I can come up with my own story here that I can sum up in a sentence. And, maybe, it’s not, I’m an old guy who started a website or I’m a young guy who started a website or I’m a woman who started a website. What else could it be?
Brad: My case in point, my case study that I bring up to everybody who’s trying to do the next amazingly huge thing is a thing called Bayden Software. When they pitched us they said hey, we saw you use Gmail. We have this thing that enables you to get email whenever you want it and send it whenever you want it.
Now, obviously, we can all send email. We can schedule sends and things like that, but that whole opportunity of getting email whenever you want it, that to me was wow, my God, that’s useful. And it’s so simple. It’s nothing more than just a scheduling system that’s built in with what we already do every day. And so, if you’re not the 18 year old kid, you’re not the 17 year old kid, or the 63 year old mom, because we’ve had some of those, too, then give us something that is just so incredibly useful. And, obviously, that’s a whole lot easier said than done.
But those are great stories for us because everybody that we know within the technology field probably uses a Google account of some sort, and the vast majority of us use Gmail accounts. For us that was an absolute no brainer. We had no doubt that this is going to be a hit, and so when they pitched it to us, it was wow. Not only is it cool but why didn’t we think of it?
And so, more often than not the really compelling things for us are things that kind of make us kick ourselves a little bit and go, “Man, maybe, I shouldn’t be a blogger any more. I should go do stuff like this.” But the joy of that is we get to be bloggers. We get to be the people who tell the story.
I just look for things that are incredibly useful, not only because, yes, obviously they get great reads on The Next Web, but I use these tools myself. I’m a busy guy. I like stuff that makes my life easier. And so, if you spend a little bit of time and the 10 or 15 minutes that you might have to spend tracking down a media person on Twitter and reading the things that go through their tweets stream about hey, I really like this.
Martin Bryant loves location based stuff, and if you go look at his Twitter stream, you’ll see. Martin talks about location based stuff a lot. And so, if you’re pitching a location based thing, you know I’m not the guy to throw it to, Martin is.
Same thing with Zee, productivity apps. I don’t understand his strange masochistic fascination with that, but he loves productivity apps. And so, spend a little bit of time. Figure out who likes what and make sure you’re hitting the right person because what I might not write about or what might just make my eyes glaze over is something that Martin will love. And a thousand other people are going to love as well.
Andrew: I understand targeting the right customer, with the right message to the right customer. I’m wondering if it ever feels disingenuous to you. If I were to say you are into Gmail apps and reference it, would you feel like, hey, what is this? You’re being a little too familiar here, and the only reason you’re being too familiar is because you have a product to push, and that’s a little off putting.
Do you feel that way, or do you feel the opposite because you’re getting so many pitches from people who want for me, me, me. When someone says, hey, Brad, I know about you. Even if it would come across as awkward in any other situation, in this one it feels better. How do you feel about it?
Brad: As such, I love when somebody will, one way or another, feed my ego just a little bit. I’m not asking for a whole lot, but if I know that you spent five minutes going through my Twitter stream or, maybe, reading some of the things that I’ve posted about, I’m much more likely to read those things. I expect just a little bit of… I don’t want to call it fake because I really don’t think that it’s fake, but I expect a little bit of grooming in what hits my email inbox because I think that that’s smart business.
Now, if I walk up to you and it’s me and Andrew in a bar having a beer, I don’t think that that’s the best time to come across to you and start talking to you about how I want to increase my podcasting career because I think that’s disingenuous. It just screams of being fake. I think there’s a difference between in a social aspect versus being in a business aspect. It is a business, and if you want media coverage for your business, it’s probably going to behoove you to spend a little bit of time tailoring what it is that you’re going to tell me about, what you have to offer.
Andrew: Okay. All right. Fair enough. That applies in everything in business. I’m hesitating here for a second because I’m not on it with the question. I had a follow up question that just escaped me. This is why I write everything down. It was… All right. I’ll have to come back to it another time. All right. So find the right audience applies to the right audience within the system, within the publication, in this case you versus Zee, for example. But it also applies more broadly.
I get a lot of emails from people who assume that I cover startups or assume that I cover new products, and I just don’t do that. I interview entrepreneurs after they built their business, or in this case I’m interviewing you to help my entrepreneurs. But I don’t cover products.
How do we know if we’re trying to get as much coverage as possible, how can we possibly figure out The Next Web is the place to go when you have a brand new site. Mixergy is the place to go when you have ba, ba, something else when you’ve sold your company and there’s a whole other website. How do you figure it out and still get mass coverage?
Brad: That’s a good question. That’s a tough question. We get a lot of pitches about funding, and we don’t cover funding primarily because we find it boring. It’s very, very exciting to the people who are involved in the business, obviously. But does my reader really care that your company got $75,000 from Bob? Probably not, unless they’re involved with your company or have some kind of heart strings attachment to it as well.
But there are other sites out there that love funding stories, and so I guess it all comes down to homework. You kind of have to pick and choose. You know who does X stories. You know that if it’s social media oriented stuff that this place is probably your best outlet for it. I would like to think that The Next Web, of course, I’m biased. I’d like to think that we’re the best outlet for anything except for funding stories, but I also have the realization that we’re a team of 8-10 people.
If we were to cover absolutely everything that came across our desks, we’d all have bleeding fingers and we’d never sleep. So you really just have to spend some time doing your homework. Throw it out there. Throw it against the wall. See if it sticks. I think that that’s some…
Andrew: You’re saying that what they’re doing is right, that these guys who are just filling up everyone’s inbox, every blogger’s inbox with the message, you’re saying it’s right. And if it is and if it’s not ccs, still say it.
Brad: It is right. To some extent, it is right. You have to throw the story out there because if you don’t, what’s the worse thing that’s going to happen? I’m going to tell you no, or, maybe, I didn’t reply to the email because I hate not replying to emails, but simply because of the volume of email that I get on a daily basis, I absolutely cannot reply to every one, or I’d never close my email inbox. It just wouldn’t happen.
But the absolute worst thing that’s going to happen is I’m going to tell you no. And probably if I took the time to tell you no, I’m also going to tell you why.
Brad: And so, yes, absolutely.
Andrew: Oh, Brad. You are asking for a world of pain, my friend. At the end of this interview my audience is going to make you the number one first person that they go to with their pitch. At least, you’re going to be willing to, on the weekend, read their long pitch, and at best you’re going to publish them or send them a feedback on why not.
All right. Be honest. I like this kind of honesty. Personally, I was hoping what you would say is don’t go mass. Go small. Find two or three guys. Reach out to them first. Then go to two or three other people. Once you’ve gotten to know who likes you and who doesn’t, then you can decide when to come back to them in the future. Don’t make this an overnight project. Make this a two year project or a six month project, and take your time getting to know them.
But if there’s an opportunity to do it faster, and you’re telling me that there is, let’s be open with it to my audience. Guys, don’t flood me with the long emails though.
Brad: There is. I think that there is an opportunity to do that. Now, the question that you have to ask yourself is do you want to be the person or the company, in all fairness, because a lot of times it’s the company, it’s not the person that I see. Do you want to be the one that I know spent a little bit of extra time, or do you want to be the one that I know emailed the exact same thing out to everybody that I happen to catch it?
You have to ask yourself that question and weigh that because if you spend three months or what have you going back and forth and reading who does what and where their little niche specialty is, where their area of incredible interest is, then obviously you’re going to be able to build a better relationship with them. And that media relationship is very, very important. I think a lot of people ignore that and don’t see that for what it is. Obviously, again, I’m media, I’m biased, but I also see what media can do both on the negative and on the positive side.
So if you want to spend time and you want to be that person whose name I remember every time, then spend the time. If you just want to make sure your story gets out there, whatever the cost, whatever the circumstance, throw it against the wall and see if it’ll stick.
Andrew: Let me ask you this.
Brad: There are benefits to both sides.
Andrew: You mentioned earlier that the three of you monitor the tips email address. I could probably and the person in my audience could probably guess what your email address is. I can guess every email address at Tech Crunch just like it’s easy. In fact, if you don’t guess it, they kind of laugh at you, and they assume that there’s something wrong with you. Am I better off guessing at the email address and emailing you personally, or am I better off reaching the tips line, the tips email address?
Brad: You’re probably better off reaching me personally.
Andrew: And do you get a lot of emails personally, like a lot of pitches personally?
Brad: Yes. Absolutely.
Andrew: You do, OK. So a bunch of people have figured this out.
Brad: Now, a lot of times there will also be cc to the tips email, whether that’s the clashing of principles of… You do have some people who think, well, I’m going to email Brad, but I’m also going to cc the tips in case Brad’s out of the office or whatever their reasoning is for that. Now, we do get a lot of those cc’ed, but especially if it’s somebody that I’ve done business with before. Then, it’s very, very common that I get the direct email.
People know that I absolutely have a deep passion for helping startups to do better at business because a lot of times startups don’t really understand business. They understand dev, and they understand code and how to make a really great product, but the business aspect of that is sometime left to the side.
And so, I get a lot of emails about people who say, hey, we’re doing something that is very different. And we read your thing about how to pitch to and work with a blogger. And so, I’m pitching to you because of that. So I get a lot of them that are direct to me, and I love those. I love it when I open up an email, and the first word says “Hi Brad.” I like it even more, maybe, because of some sick thing in my mind. I like it when it’s sent to the tips email, and it says “Hi Brad” because then I get to look at Martin and Zee and kind of go, ha, ha. That’s just our internal play as well.
Andrew: I love that. All right. Good. And I hope the people email you right now. They don’t even wait until the end of this interview. I hope they just do this, just send you an email saying “Hi Brad” to build a relationship that the next time they contact you, they’ll do it with a little bit of history. And so, the next time they contact you or when they need something, it won’t be the very first time that they contact you, that they’ll, at least, have the inside “Hi Brad” joke with you, and then they could build on that relationship next time.
Here’s something else I’ve been wondering. We talk about how hard it is to get into your site and how to create the perfect pitch. Before we continue, I’m wondering what do we get for it? How much traffic does a post on The Next Web, a site that reaches two million uniques a month, how much traffic could that send a new company?
Brad: Sent or how much traffic does it always?
Andrew: How much traffic? What are we talking about here?
Brad: I have a personal marker that once it crosses that 400 read threshold, I’m pretty happy with the post. If it doesn’t get 400 sets of eyes, then either the product wasn’t pitched by me very well because if I wrote about it is a good product, but then I still have my job to do as well. And so, I take full responsibility for throwing things out there that don’t get good reads because I don’t write about boring stuff. I don’t write about ugly stuff.
There should be no reason if it’s on The Next Web that people shouldn’t know about it. So 400 is my personal marker. I really like it when it sees a thousand, and then you have to start thinking about the pyramid effect from that.
Going back again to Boomerang and the Bayden software people, they told a story I want to say it was about three months after they launched Boomerang for GML. And what happened with that was it absolutely snowballed. We got it, and then they got this massive influx of traffic. We melted down their servers for a few hours. They finally got things stabled the next day, and then Life Hacker picked it up. And then, they got melted down again not for nothing. A lot of people read Life Hacker. I read Life Hacker. I love the site. I love what they do.
And so, you have to think about the kind of cause and effect relationship about what can happen with a post. Maybe, it’s not all about the traffic that you get directly as a… If you’re looking at your Google Analytics or your click view or whatever and you see The Next Web as your referral source for a thousand hits, that’s great. But what about the people that got clued in because I’ll guarantee you that everybody in the media industry, especially in tech blogging, we pay attention to what other people are writing about as well.
I watch the feeds from TechCrunch. I watch the feeds from Life Hacker, from ReadWriteWeb. To me, they are respected cohorts in the media field. I want to know what they’re writing about. I like to beat them to writing about stuff, but I definitely want to keep an eye on it and very often will see, hey, I put this story out there. And an hour later, sometimes a day later, sometimes a week later, another outlet writes about the same product.
And so, it’s not always necessarily just what you’re going to get from direct traffic from that one article. It’s very important to realize to be cognizant of the fact that you have that down flow as time goes on, and it gets picked up by more sources. And then, we have other sources as well.
It’s very common for articles, especially our useful stuff or kind of cool stuff, to hit StumbleUpon. If there is one source for long-term traffic out there on the Internet that people don’t give nearly enough credit for, it’s StumbleUpon. You’ll see StumbleUpon… We have one article that every single day gets into our top ten list of articles back in our analytics, and it’s all because of StumbleUpon.
Andrew: What is it?
Brad: I wrote this thing six months ago. It’s about Angry Birds. The article was, do you want to play Angry Birds on your PC? Apparently, we just hit the right search terms. People stumbled it. It’s gotten massive, massive traffic off StumbleUpon. And every single day it continuously gets another 400, 50, 600 reads, and I wrote it months ago.
Andrew: You wrote that article.
Brad: There is a reason, yes.
Andrew: You must be so proud that you have one article that you wrote months ago that’s constantly in the top ten.
Brad: Yeah. I wish it was about something more important than Angry Birds. I wish it would have been about like, a cure for cancer or something. If it had to be Angry Birds, if it had to be something that wasn’t the cure for cancer, at least, it was Rovio because I like those guys, I like what they do.
Andrew: OK. I was hoping you would give me concrete numbers of how many hits a company could expect to get if its post gets 400 reads. Do you know numbers like that?
Brad: I really don’t, and that’s a fault of my own. I need to do some more homework on that. As a matter of fact, you’re kind of calling me to the mat on that. I’m going to do it. I’m going to get a hold of the Bayden software guys because I definitely think that they’re my use case scenario for exactly what can happen when things go really perfectly well. And so, I want to find out from them what kind of traffic they got from us for that.
Brad: And be able to provide that kind of information.
Andrew: I know that. They’re friends of mine. I hope they come back and, maybe, in the comments tell us how many hits they got. They would be interesting to see. OK. I get that completely. I actually don’t know how many hits . . . you might give me your personal web page at the end of this. You’ve got a company that you’re running, too, right? You’ll probably give me a link to that.
I have no idea, and I’ll never have any idea how much traffic I sent to you because you know what? In my mind, that’s not my mission. I’m not here to be Google sending traffic to you. My mission is to bring out the best knowledge out of you and to put it into people’s heads. And I do know, not how much traffic you’re going to get but somewhere someone is now running to you and they’re literally in their head.
This isn’t like a passive connection that they’re going to have to you. You’re going to be in their brain as they run, as they commute.
Brad: That’s cool. I light that.
Andrew: I like that, too. I guess that’s why I end up getting so many people reaching out to my guests because there is a connection when you’re listening to them that closely. There is a connection that goes beyond text to a guest who comes in and who spend an hour with someone. I believe that ten minutes, that even two minutes, they’re going to get me bigger viewerships.
But I do believe that at the same time the hour long interview is going to get me a much tighter connection. It’s going to be more useful because somewhere in here you’re going to give me something that I couldn’t expect if I was just doing a one minute interview with you. People are going to connect with you. They’re going to remember the name Brad, and they’re going to remember to say “Hi Brad” whenever they email you.
Brad: I’m waiting for the influx of “Hi Brad” emails.
Andrew: You guys better, please help me show that I’ve got big traffic to my site.
Brad: If it doesn’t come through, I’m totally calling you back. I’m totally calling you back on this if I don’t get a massive influx of “Hi Brad” emails.
Andrew: Somebody, please go to Mechanical Turk. I will pay you for this and have it trigger a “Hi Brad” email. I will pay you for this. Okay.
Here’s the other thing that I’m wondering. I’m going to go back in a moment to more lessons, about how people can create the perfect pitch. But to create the perfect pitch, we have to know how our customer is, who our audience is in this case. You are our audience. Let me know more about you. How many hours a day do you spend blogging?
Brad: Oh God, I have a scheduled nine hour shift. I work from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. The actual reality of that is I wake up about 7:30 every morning and start getting into my email. I wake up to between 70 and 100 emails. And so, that takes some time. I guess it really depends on what you’re referring to as blogging. Time spent in front of a keyboard writing a blog post or the whole process of what it takes to go through and do a post.
And so, if you’re talking time spent going in front of a keyboard, I mean, I type 100 words a minute. It doesn’t take me very long to put something out there once I’ve got the story in my head. But to do the full process of things, it does start at 7:30 in the morning usually up until I do our… We have a little daily news thing called The Daily Dose that I put out. I try to get it out there around 9:00 a.m. Pacific time so that I get my Silicon Valley, you know, you’re sitting down with your cup of coffee listening to the five minute Daily Dose, and you’ve got to catch up on the news stories of the day.
Then, digging in through the rest of my morning, I probably spend of that hour and a half to two hours that I’ve got between when I check my email and when I actually sit down and type and say “Hi” to the team in our back channel, I probably spend a good 80 to 90% of that getting ready for the stuff I have going on through the day.
And so, if you’re talking about how much time I spend on a daily basis, at a minimum I’d say that’s 12 hours because then once the clock hits, that’s when I go back through the things that I haven’t had time to reply to for email through the day, continuing stories, things that I’m working on, phone calls, meetings, things that I need to do after the dedicated time that I’m watching all the things that are happening on The Next Web. I usually put in usually another hour to two hours after the fact.
Oftentimes, that will be until 10:00, 11:00 at night. It kind of depends. It’s a 24 hour a day business, and even though we do have team members who staff The Next Web 24 hours of the day on the clock, we individually have things that we’re responsible for. I don’t think it’s any stretch at all to say that it’s, at least, 12 hours.
Andrew: 12 hours a day. Do you get paid by the day or by the post or something else?
Brad: I get a flat salary every month.
Andrew: And this is such a weird thing. I asked Alexia from Tech Crunch about this. How do I express this? When I sit down to write a blog post, even on my personal blog, it often is a little bit of agony, trying to put the words together and trying to sort them through and put them together in a way that makes sense for people. I’ve seen lots of people start blogs, try it daily, go to it whenever they fee like it, and eventually close them down because it’s tough to stare at a blank page.
And here you are. You’re not personally cranking out 20 to 30 posts a day, but you’re cranking out posts daily, consistently. Is it mashugana to say to you, how do you do it? Teach me how to do that?
Brad: I think there’s a part that can be taught, but there’s a part that you’re an interviewer. I don’t know that I could, and I’ve got a background in radio. I did radio for a number of years. I’ve done interviews for years, but I’m not the interviewer that you are. So, for me to be able to sit down and do a really good and interesting interview with somebody every single day would be a lot of work. I can’t really fathom that.
And so, I think that there’s a part of it that you’re kind of born with. For me, I like to talk to people. I don’t actually talk that often outside of on the Internet and text, but I love to talk to people and especially online. So for me, I feel like when I’m sitting down, I’m getting… If you figure that it takes, call it five minutes to read through a story, and that’s time included clicking the link, sharing it on Twitter and what have you.
For five minutes I have your undivided attention. I have five minutes to tell you a story. I want to make that the very best story that I can tell because at the heart of it all I think that bloggers, especially in tech… You know I can’t even say especially in tech because I think that bloggers as a whole have a really deep passion for what it is that they write about. And so, that’s why we do what we do.
For me, I have a huge passion for business development, for watching these guys with a dream and a keyboard make something that we all end up using. And so, I want to make sure that if it’s five minutes and Andrew’s coming to my site and reading the post, it’s not time wasted.
Andrew: All you’re saying here, to me, in my mind now that I’m hearing this. If I were going to try to duplicate what you’re doing for my business, if the person listening to us right now were going to try and duplicate it with that power that you’re talking about, that you have someone’s undivided attention for five minutes, that you get to create a story that’s going to be the perfect story, that’s intimidating.
That’s the kind of stuff that creates procrastination. That’s the kind of stuff that creates writer’s block. And what I’m wondering is does that happen to you, or are you a different kind of person?
Brad: Oh God, yes.
Andrew: It does. So how long would it take you to write a typical story that would go what, I don’t know word counts because I’m not a writer. I’d say three paragraphs might be typical, three, four paragraphs typical on The Next Web. How long would that take you to write?
Brad: I’m prepped and ready for, eight, ten minutes.
Andrew: Eight to ten minutes? That’s pretty fast.
Brad: Yeah. From the time that I key the first letter to the time that I publish the post, probably eight to ten minutes, if it’s something that I’m really ready for. Now, if it’s something that requires me to go in and to really dig in with it, I don’t think that I can quantify exactly how long that would take because sometimes it’s as simple as just getting an email back and being able to answer some questions that I really needed to answer something.
Sometimes, there’s this much of a story here, and this much is so interesting that I know that I’ve got to create something out of it, but I need this much. And so, I have a whole lot of stuff that I’ve got to do to make this happen. And so, in order for that to happen, sometimes it’s two, three days or three or four weeks.
It really depends on a case by case basis, but sitting down and actually writing out a blog post that I know, that I am fully ready and fully prepared to do, if I can’t do one of those an hour, there’s a really big problem. Then, I’m probably in the wrong business. I need to go back to being in radio or something because that’s the other side of my job.
People rely on me, not only to tell the stories but to also catch the breaking news, to be able to provide some type of insight that perhaps they hadn’t thought of themselves, or perhaps they have thought of it, and they’re looking to what I write and what the rest of our staff on The Next Web writes in order to be kind of the justification for what they were already thinking. People like it when they say, oh yeah, I thought about that, too. These people who are supposed to be smart about all of this stuff agree with me, so I’m doing pretty good. But if I can’t do one an hour like that, that’s a pretty big problem.
I sat down last night, a pretty good case in point here. I spent the week at CTIA, the wireless convention down in Orlando, Florida. I sat down last night, and I knew that I had 11 stories that I needed to get out just because I had 11 different things that I really wanted to tell the stories of. In some case, they were 2, 300 words and a video to accompany it.
But in other cases, I did a story about Nokia, and I had sat down with their VP of Product Development, or VP of Technology, rather, and that ended up being 1200 words which is a pretty sizeable post. But in those 11 stories, I sat down at 4:00, and I was finished by around 11:30, so seven and a half hours. And included in there was time that I wolfed down some pizza and I grabbed a drink.
Andrew: I eat a lot when I have to write. I get up, and I get coffee endlessly. I get up and I go get… I go to the vending machine over here. I try not to bring dollar bills into the office because otherwise I’ll go to the vending machine when there’s a stressful moment in the day. I don’t want to spend too much time on this. Let me just ask this one other thing.
I want to know why are you able to knock out a post in a few minutes or up to an hour. Is it because… I have a bad habit of making my questions into multiple choice questions where I start to go, is it because of this or is it because of B, is it because of C? And then the person goes, oh yeah, one of those ideas must be right.
Brad: It’s all of them, right.
Andrew: I’m not going to multiple choice you. I’m just going to let you answer. Think about it in a way that either tells me… Actually, I’m leading the witness, no more leading the witness. You tell me, why can you do that? I want to do that.
Brad: You know, there is something that we as humans like to do more than what we’re passionate about. I am passionate about telling the stories and getting the word out there about really cool startups, fun things, Internet culture, life. And I think that’s the beauty of The Next Web business that I’m enabled to do all of those things. I don’t have to only write about startups or mobile applications.
Between our shareables blog and our entrepreneurial blog, our industry blog, all these little sub-blogs that we have that make up The Next Web, I am enabled to tell, basically, any story that comes across my desk that interests me. And so, to me it’s just a matter of passion. That’s really what drives me. I love what I do.
Well, there are two things. I loved being a deejay. I was a deejay for 17 years. I love playing music to people. And so, I loved to do that. I would do that versus doing this, but that’s not a real smart move for me in the long-term. One of these days I’m going to go deaf and I’m going to be old, and I’ll not get booked any more.
The other thing is I love business development, but part of what I do with blogging is business development because if you’ve read my post, you’ll notice that I oftentimes say, “We love XYZ” or “We really like when we see ABC.” And so, that’s not just a filler line for my blog because I needed that paragraph to be ten pixels down the page further. I’m giving little hints.
I’m dropping a message here and there that, hopefully, if somebody who is reading that, maybe, they’re doing their own project, maybe, they’re working on things. I want their gears to turn, and I want them to look at that and go, “You know, you’re right. You guys do dig that.” And so, when I get my project that does ABC and XYZ finished to the point that I can tell you about it, I’m going to hit on those little keys. It’s not just a blog post. It’s an ecosystem. I know, such a played out word.
Andrew: It is what it is.
Brad: It’s terrible. But that’s really it. It’s not just telling the one story about the one product at the one time. It’s also feeding people to follow up to do more stories with us. I’m driven in a field that if people stop telling me stories and I stop digging for stories, then I don’t have a job any more.
Yeah, I like what I do, but I don’t like it enough to do it for free. I have bills to pay, so I have to make sure that I’m giving the opportunity for people to hit those hot buttons. I want them to read through the post and to go, “That’s me” or “Maybe, that’s not me but it could be.”
Andrew: This is a great point. Ultimately, what you’re saying is you need us, me, the person who’s listening and everyone who’s listening to us as much as we need you. We need you to get the word out there, and you need us to feed you good stories. If we can learn what you need, then we’re gong to be so much more valuable to you. And we’re much more likely to get picked up and written about by you and others.
Final point, let’s go with one more tip. What day of the week, and this is when people start to go mental with me, because I’m getting tactical, but you know what? Big ideas are great, but what do we do on a Monday? What do we do Tuesday? Don’t just tell me these big ideas because when I have to sit in front of my computer and do something to pick up my business. So I love the tactics. Tactically, what day of the week is good? What is it good for sending email? And what day is bad?
Brad: Monday, worst possible.
Andrew: Monday is the worst possible day to send email.
Brad: Monday, the worst possible day because everybody launches on Monday. And if you have something big… Well, OK. You kind of have to look at the ecosystem here. If you’re putting out a new piece of hardware that’s possibly going to crowd in on Apple’s market, even that much, for God’s sake don’t do it on a Tuesday or a Thursday because those are Apple release days. Those are the days that Apple always does stuff. Look at Apple’s product cycle. Know it you’ve got something coming up.
If you have a tablet that runs Android or whatever, don’t tell me to do that on the same day that Apple releases the iPad 3. That’s just stupid. Don’t tell me that you want to put out your brand new product on Monday because you’re going to get lost. There’s a 99% chance, if I had to make up a fake statistic, that you’re going to get lost in all the shuffle of a Monday because everybody puts their stuff out there.
So the worst possible day to email me is a Monday or email me all you want on a Monday. That’s fine. I’ll save it, and I’ll read it Tuesday. Don’t expect to release on a Monday. I’ve coached so many people about this. I’ve talked to, not only the people that I do bizdev stuff with, but just startups who pitch The Next Web. Don’t do this stuff on a Monday. It’s a bad move.
The best possible day? If you tend to ask multiple choice questions, I’m going to give you a multiple choice answer. Best possible day is… If you’re looking at people in the U. S., now you have to understand The Next Web, our focus is on the fact that we’re an international tech blog. We’re owned by a company in Amsterdam. We have writers across Europe. We have writers in Australia and in Singapore.
We are everywhere, but if your focus is on U. S. business and you want to throw a product out there, there’s a couple questions that you have to ask yourself. First off, is your big thing that you’re looking for money or users because those two things operate at different points in the day when it comes to reading. Money reads during the day. Users read in the afternoon and the evening.
The reason, if you look at our traffic numbers on The Next Web, it’s about 3:00 in the afternoon that we have this gigantic spike, and I think the big reason for that is . . . 3:00 in the afternoon, my time.
Andrew: Which is Pacific time.
Brad: I’m Central, actually. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, which oddly enough there’s a massive amount of tech here. I love this city. 3:00 my time, so put that into perspective. It’s 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. A good number of people are starting to get off work. That is 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. out in Europe and a little bit later as you go out further east that direction out across the European continent and the rest of the world.
That also starts to get into the morning hours, 3:00 to around 7:00 p.m. my time starts to get in the morning hours for Australia and New Zealand. Those are the times when people who might use your product are more likely to read about it.
Andrew: When I email you and say, here’s my new product, how do I time it so you publish it when my audience is ready, like you said. Throughout the day is fine for people who, you hope, will invest in your company, and midday and later is better for people who, you hope, will use the products that your company creates. Do I email you at those times, knowing that an hour later you’re going to turn it around, or do I email you in the morning, knowing that you’ll figure it out yourself because that’s your job? What do I do?
Brad: You can rely on me to kind of ascertain whether or not it needs to go out in the morning or the evening?
Andrew: It doesn’t matter to me when I send it out, but I do want to keep in mind when you should publish it.
Andrew: I just need to know if that’s what you need to keep in mind. OK.
Brad: Let me know. If your big thing is that you want somebody from Anderson Horowitz to read what your product is, then chances are it needs to be 9:00 a.m. Pacific to somewhere around 3:00 p.m. Pacific because we as humans at about 3:00 p.m. we just shut off.
Andrew: I see.
Brad: That work space from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., nobody works during that space. We all know that. That’s the slump, and so that’s the part where, maybe, they’re reading blog posts or whatever because it interests them, but they’re not necessarily looking from such a business aspect.
I may be completely wrong in this, but judging from what I’ve seen that’s a very popular time for the business, for the money side of things. It’s about 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in that Pacific time zone.
If you’re really interested in just getting users, then talk to me about putting a story out for 4:00 p.m. on a Wednesday because 4:00 p.m. on a Wednesday nothing’s happening. Nobody launches at 4:00 p.m. on a Wednesday. Why would you? Well, you would because that’s when people are going to be paying attention to the things that are out there because there’s nothing out there. So, it’s really easy to make a very big splash in a very still pool.
Andrew: OK. Two questions, actually three. I always have a third one. A lot of this stuff, I’m not going to be able to remember, and there’s even more than I was able to ask you about. If I was an Apple case maker, I wouldn’t know that Apple releases on a Tuesday, and if I spent a lot of time trying to figure out when Apple released, it might distract me from creating the best case.
I’m wondering, can I hire a blogger who works for The Next Web or for one of the popular sites and say, I don’t need you to be my PR person. I need like an hour of guidance and help me know when to send, who to send it to and bim, bam, boom without hiring you for $20,000 a month. Is that possible?
Brad: Yes. Absolutely, speaking for myself. I can’t say that everybody else would do it, but for me that’s part of business development. That’s just smart.
Andrew: Can I still get into The Next Web? Not you but somebody else. You might give me some advice on how to get one of the other writers.
Brad: And really, it depends on the depth of the information that you and I go into. If I am telling you fundamental things to change about your product then no, it’s probably not best for me to write about you. If I’m just telling you, hey, you know what? If you pitch this to me and tell me that you want it to be read by a bunch of people who might use it. And you want to sit down with me for an hour and have me explain to you why it is that this time works for these people, that this time works for these people, I don’t think that there’s a conflict of interest in me writing that because if the story wasn’t good, I wouldn’t write it to begin with. And I think that’s where the integrity principle comes in.
Andrew: How do we avoid the pay for post conflict of interest where it seems like I’m paying you and getting your advice that helps me get an article written by The Next Web? Is there a way to avoid that?
Brad: The biggest thing is that you have to make sure who you’re working with. First off, I will never, ever accept a pay for a post. And I can guarantee you that of the staff that we have right now at this point at The Next Web, it will not happen.
Now, there’s a very big difference, I believe, in sponsorship of a section. For instance, if you go look at our CTIA coverage, Sprint sponsored our coverage of CTIA. But that didn’t keep me from writing about the other carriers who were telling people that Sprint is kind of missing the mark in some stuff. There’s a very big difference between sponsored coverage and paying for a post.
If you come up and you say, hey, Brad, I’d like to hire you for X amount of dollars for X amount of time, and at the end of it I’d love to have you post about it, it’s not going to happen. It absolutely won’t happen.
Andrew: All right. I’m going to leave it there. I don’t want to say any more than that because I’m not going to be able to get the full… What am I saying here? I’ll tell you why. I’ll be completely honest. I’m concerned that you might say something that ends up coming out the wrong way, and then you’re going to ask me later on to edit this interview which is a pain in the freaking butt, and I’m not going to do it.
So what I’m going to say here is we’re trying to get the best, we’re trying to get the clearest understanding possible, and I understand when it comes to stuff like this, I can’t in the three minutes that I have to allocate to this conflict of interest issue and how we can avoid it and work together, I can’t get into that in three minutes. It’s just beyond the scope of this. I’m going to say to the people in the audience, go figure it out. I’ve just explained it, and we just got into it as much as possible. I will not edit interviews. It’s a pain in the butt.
Second question that I had on my three question list is the t-shirt. I didn’t want to waste time early on. I will not waste more than three minutes on the conflict of interest issue, but apparently I do have enough time to ask you. What’s on the t-shirt? What is that t-shirt?
Brad: Oh. I got it from Shirt Woot, if you’re familiar with woot.com.
Andrew: I love them.
Brad: They also have shirt.woot.com. This was like a $10 t-shirt. It’s Koi fish and stars. I don’t know.
Andrew: It’s just Koi fish swimming around.
Brad: Yeah. It’s just Koi fish, nothing special.
Andrew: I’m never going to be able to understand what it is, but I’m also too cool to admit that I don’t understand. So, what else I’m saying is that it’s awesome. I wish I got it that day. Final question is this, do you have one actionable piece of advice that my audience can use tomorrow at the end of this interview, something quick that we can show them quick results because we live in a quick results world?
Brad: Wow, one piece. This is when you’re looking for sage words of wisdom, and I’m not sure that I have any. Don’t be annoying. Seriously, there’s so many ways that you can be annoying. And being over exuberant about your product can be really, really annoying. Tell me what it is. Give me three or four sentences. Give me the attachments at the bottom and strike up a conversation with me.
So email me. I’m just Brad. I’m just some guy who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, who really likes tech. So email me with what you think is cool because chances are I’m probably going to think it’s cool, too and I like to email back and forth with you.
Andrew: Okay. And they can do that now, even if they don’t have a product to pitch today. You’re not going to see it as too much if they just say, “Hey, Brad.” That helps build a relationship. OK. All right. Cool.
I went to the Dale Carnegie School of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I tend to think that it’s OK to just reach out and say hello to people for no good reason, but I want to be sure I keep checking all my promises. I want to be sure I keep checking all of my facts in these interviews and that I don’t impose my point of view on the guest. It has to be you coming out in your own words.
Brad, I’m talking too much here in the end. Let me end it here by saying, thank you for doing this interview. And how about since we mentioned The Next Web and giving them a lot of attention, is there a personal website where people can go and give you some personal attention?
Brad: Sure. It is BradMcCarty.me, M-C-C-A-R-T-Y.
Andrew: BradMcCarty.me. Thanks for doing the interview.
Brad: I do my ranting post there. The things that I can’t write on The Next Web, I write there. That’s give you a little insight.
Andrew: All right. I’m going to check it out. Everyone, go check it out. Please email Brad. Find a way at Mechanical Turk to email him a lot without being annoying. Keep the joke. Don’t overdo it. And thank you for watching the interview. Bye. Bye, everyone.
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