Next up in our series of interviews with media: Moira Vetter. Moira is a longtime Forbes contributor, covering entrepreneurship and other stories that catch her eye. We talk with her on lessons she’s learned as a contributor and how PR pros and brands can maximize Forbes coverage.
KIM: What types of stories do you like to cover on Forbes?
MOIRA: My area of coverage, what Forbes calls a “swimlane,” is how entrepreneurs raise capital and manage money. Although this is typically what I cover, I try to diversify coverage with: stories of interesting entrepreneurs and their capital, stories about interesting methods for raising capital, operational realities of scaling businesses and capital/money challenges, or businesses specifically that provide capital/banking/financial services/etc.
KIM: In your four years as a Forbes contributor, how has the role changed?
MOIRA: Forbes has had a few different leadership changes in terms of editorial oversight, but they give us a wide berth in developing stories once we have met their initial test. My role hasn’t changed but my perspective on “what is interesting” has.
I wrote about many of the fundamentals of raising capital, scaling financially, etc. and have come to realize how much of this content exists and gets rehashed. I look for the stories others aren’t writing. This might include industries people don’t cover, non-traditional entrepreneurs, obscure aspects of money management like salary strategy, and other things. Ultimately, I’m looking for stories and there are many things that make one interesting. Sometimes it’s the entrepreneur’s own story and the money part is incidental to what is interesting about them. Sometimes, the entrepreneurs are entirely uninteresting but their sector or situation is fascinating. I also appreciate learning about business people in cities/regions that don’t get covered all the time — for example, as a Southeast/Atlanta business person I try to ensure that I get coverage for Southeast businesses.
KIM: How can PR people create working relationships with contributors?
MOIRA: It is important to understand what contributors write about, but not get into a formula. For example, if I’ve just written about a fintech startup, I may not be interested in immediately writing about another fintech business. Or, if I just wrote about someone’s Kickstarter campaign, I may not want to immediately follow that with another crowdfunding piece. It’s important that PR people don’t overly typecast the writer. The best relationships I have start with a message like, “I found the greatest story…you won’t believe what this founder has been through…or what this founder’s background is.”
KIM: What are your PR pet peeves?
MOIRA: We are all doing what we do to increase visibility for the clients and subjects we pitch and write about. My biggest pet peeve is when I’ve written an article and the PR person does nothing to share or amplify the coverage to help me increase my own viewership of the piece. Some PR people believe that “coverage in Forbes” is the end goal. To me, a story on Forbes is a “means to the end of visibility.” Getting your client covered in Forbes and having 300 people read it, isn’t really a success. I appreciate when PR people coordinate closely regarding when the story should appear and when/how they can help amplify coverage. I work with them on this to help me maximize the exposure my piece has to readers.
KIM: Can you give an example of a story you pursued based on a PR pitch?
MOIRA: Here are several stories I pursued because I was provided with great access to leadership, the stories were edgy enough to garner interest/viewership, the PR team was communicative about how/when I might publish based on an exclusive I had or other “breaking” trends that might signal to “go now!”
- Rusal Invests $200M in America’s First Low-Carbon Environmentally-Conscious Aluminum Mill
- Taking the Sin Out of Self-Indulgence: Luxury Buying Meets Worldwide Social Impact
- Going From Serial Entrepreneur To Billionaire The Old Fashioned Way
Also, here are a few stories I’d call failures, where a PR professional facilitated a story lead, interview or provided background information. There was enthusiasm in advance of the writing and once the story went live there was no further communication. The stories still took work, and I enjoyed writing them, but they did not gain the readership they might have if the PR person continued collaborating with me.
- How Closely Do You Match The EY Global Business Growth Profile
- Learning To Raise Capital With the Right Sense of Entitlement
- Social Impact: Ocean Reclaimed Plastics & Kickstarter Fuel Norton Point
KIM: If you could be a fly on the wall in the boardroom of any company, which would it be and why?
MOIRA: I am interested in the companies — and people — that don’t ordinarily talk to the press. I want access to something or someone rare. I’d rather interview billionaires than millionaires. I want to interview serial entrepreneurs over entrepreneurs. In terms of boardrooms, I want to hear what the powerful companies are doing. My top 5 list is:
- Berkshire Hathaway – Who are they buying and why? How do you keep growing when you’re as large as you are?
- Exxon Mobil – What is the future of energy and who is your competition?
- Fannie Mae – What are you going to do about this bubble and what happens if people stop going to college and borrowing student loans?
- GE – What is going on around here? No one ever thought someone could fill Edison and J.P. Morgan’s shoes until you got Jack Welch. Now what?
- Dupont de Nemours – I grew up in Delaware and I’m fascinated by all the things Dupont.