Inside the Mind of Business Tech Journalist Alyssa Newcomb
I recently spoke with business technology reporter Alyssa Newcomb, who writes for a variety of publications like NBC and Fortune, and has worked with companies in our #HWCyberSquad for more than five years. In the Q&A below, she shares what makes something “newsworthy” and the security trends she currently finds most fascinating. Oh, and did I mention a (cringeworthy) PR horror story? *Keeps reading*
Bailey: What security trends or topics are you most interested in covering right now?
Alyssa: Ransomware hit just about every industry last year. I’m fascinated by the idea of ransomware and other types of hacks being offered to people “as a service.” You no longer need major technical skills to pull off a hack, since there are people on the dark web offering to help potential hackers get started for a fee. And of course, it’s 2020, so election security is definitely on my radar.
Bailey: What makes something “newsworthy”?
Alyssa: I think people sometimes assume the fact their product or company exists makes it newsworthy. When I look for stories or evaluate studies, I’m most interested in two things: Thinking a few moves ahead to how this might become bigger in the future, and finally, if it’s something happening now: Would my Aunt Carol care about it?
Bailey: What areas of security do you feel aren’t being covered enough or what’s been overdone? Are we doing a good job of talking about D&I and mental health in the industry?
Alyssa: The security industry obviously has some work to do when it comes to diversity and inclusion, especially when it comes to the speaker lineups at conferences. I’d like to see more companies putting forward diverse voices for interviews. I always try my best to make sure I am quoting a diverse group of experts in my stories, but I think we all can do a better job here. I haven’t really covered mental health in the industry, but I think anytime we can have open conversations about mental health, it’s a good thing.
Bailey: What’s your worst PR horror story?
Alyssa: It makes me cringe when I’m pitched an interview with a “lady founder” or “female badass expert of XYZ.” I think that does a disservice to the female leaders in tech, and pitches should be led with far more interesting tidbits than the fact the interview subject identifies as a woman. You’d be surprised how many pitches like this I get. I mean come on!
Alyssa’s Q&A is further proof why transactional interactions are never the way to build a relationship with a reporter. Understand who you’re talking to on the other end is not a bot and that PR/reporter relationships can be mutually beneficial if you take the time to grow with each other.
Here’s my challenge to you — ditch that blanket product announcement pitch that you were going to send after you’re done reading this (*Gasp – how did she know?*) and build a real narrative tied to what the journalist may actually be interested in exploring.
Like Alyssa said, why would (and should) Aunt Carol care about your news?