CEO
04 May 2017

What makes a CEO interesting to journalists?

Top insights from UK tech journalists

So, you want to secure an interview for your CEO at one of your target media outlets, however, you are not sure how to approach this.

What is it that makes a CEO interesting to a journalist? We posed this question to a group of UK technology journalists and it sparked an interesting conversation. It turns out that just because someone is the CEO of a company does not necessarily make him or her interesting. Here are the main factors suggested:

Relevance

When pitching to journalists, it is essential that you consider the publication and their audience in the first place. Desire Athow, Editor at IT Pro Portal and Tech Radar Pro, says that “they (CEOs) need to have a genuine story that appeals (and talks) to our audience.” Similarly, Guy Clapperton, Freelance Journalist and Blogger, also thinks that the Chief Executive has to be relevant to the readers of the publication.

For Charlotte Jee, Editor at Techworld, “it depends on a lot of things – do they work in a field I cover? is the company a big name or an interesting startup? Is the person interesting themselves, is their life story interesting?” At the end of the day, as well as being a respected figure in the industry and a CEO of a successful company, the interviewee is in the first place a human being – just like the journalist and the readers of their publication.

Context

The approach needed to capture the interest of a national or business title seems to be slightly different. The Digital & Communities Editor at the Financial Times, Maija Palmer, says that “a big name helps, being part of a trend, or completely going against a trend.” A tip for PRs: “It helps if you can put someone into context – what is the reason we should be interested in speaking to this person, who we don’t yet know much about, at this particular time?”

Human angle

In his blog Communicate Media, Garth Sinclair says that “journalists, especially those doing profiles, are always looking for the human angle and what they call ‘colour’” of the story. According to him, it is that quirky little detail that could make the headline of the story because it not only says a lot about the person being interviewed, the company they lead and the sector they are in, but also grab the attention of the reader.

“There’s even a formula for this. Capitalize on a story of personal setback and recovery (it has to be true, of course), and use it to sell your product.”

Interestingly, Danny Bradbury, Freelance Journalist, suggests that “what makes the CEO interesting to you will also work for journalists because in business we are all looking for the same thing when we meet someone.” So, think about what is it that makes that person compelling and transform it into a pitch – it will most certainly be likeable by the journalist, too.

So, there you have it. We say thank you to all the journalists that got involved in this discussion, and encourage you to consider these tips when pitching an interview opportunity with a Chief Executive.