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We interviewed a media adviser and a guru of tech journalism Andrii Degeler. He told us the way he started ProCEEd > Newsletter, what an ideal pitch should be like, and how to attract attention of "rock star" sources to your startup.
Tech journalist and media adviser
Founder at ProCEEd >
Contributing Reporter at Ars Technica UK
Freelance Journalist at The Next Web .
Nice to meet you, Andrii! Thanks for giving an opportunity to interview you. Traditional first question: what are you? What is your business area?
I’m Andrii Degeler, a tech journalist and media strategy consultant. Most of the time I either write stories for tech media as a freelancer, or advise all kinds of tech startups and companies on building their media strategies.
How old were you when understood that love of journalism would lead you through the life?
It wasn’t at all that poetic, really. When I was a little kid, I was really fascinated by the whole idea of print journalism, but it didn’t last long—when I graduated from high school, I actually wanted to go to the radio electronics university in Kharkiv. But around the time of enrolling I realised I’d still much rather be a journalist. In a couple of years, I ended up in the Karazin university pursuing a bachelor degree in journalism.
If talk about first experience – what was your first job?
Well, if we don’t count a few short gigs as a freight handler and an odd hand, my first long-time job was a PC service engineer. I’d done it for some four years in the middle of the 2000s.
What was your first paid work? Do you remember the name of the article you've contributed the first? What was it about?
Ugh. That’s a difficult question. It was probably something about computers and technology for one of Kharkiv’s local newspapers.
What does your working day look like?
It depends on whether I’m home or travelling around for a conference or a story. If I’m in Amsterdam, I try to only work at home if I have calls during the day that would require a quiet environment. Otherwise, I cycle to The Next Web’s office in the city centre, and work from there. Usually I start working at 9am or something, and call it a day around 6-7pm. On a typical working day I’d probably spend at least an hour dealing with email, then another couple of hours doing research for a story or a consulting job, and the rest—writing and procrastinating, in equal parts.
What is the most amazing thing in your job?
I think it’s people I get to meet—startup founders, tech enthusiasts, ecosystem builders, facilitators, and so on. For most of them, whatever they’re doing is their life, and their passion really amazes me every time.
Publications in IT News, Mobile + PC Magazine, Computer Review Weekly Magazine, TechitEasy and other tech resources demanded you the continuous improvement of technical skills. How did you cope with everything in time? What was your time management secret?
I didn’t. :) It’s been a struggle all along, and I’m still not sure how to manage one’s time in the most efficient way. I’m trying at least to be able to see the big picture of all my projects, stories, tasks, etc. at all times—that’s where Trello comes in really handy. Otherwise, I don’t have a good time management recipe, and still looking for one for myself.
Speaking about your current work places. What journalists TheNextWeb and Arstechnica are looking for?
TNW and Ars UK are two different publications, and I’m very glad I’m writing for both of them. For me, The Next Web is first of all about the culture of the Internet, entrepreneurship, and the global tech industry as a whole. On the other hand, Ars Technica is a nerdy publication where I can dig deeper into technical details of everything going on around. I think this describes quite well what people who write for these outlets are looking for.
When did the idea of the ProCEEd come to you? What is this project about?
The initial idea was to launch a weekly email newsletter where I’d put together all the tech news from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). I first thought about it in early 2015, when I was also doing monthly round-ups of CEE tech news for TNW. At the beginning, ProCEEd > Newsletter was just a weekly version of those round-ups. Later on, I started also recording occasional podcasts with people from the CEE tech scene.
In 2016, I came up with the idea of ProCEEd > Consultancy as a way to put my journalism experience to a good use.
Who are your target readers?
ProCEEd > Newsletter’s audience is everyone who’s interested in the tech scene of Central and Eastern Europe. That includes international VCs, journalists, as well as people already working in the industry there, who can see how English-language tech media cover their countries.
What inspires you?
As I already said, it’s the people I get to meet and work with. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to talk to and work with so many passionate technology and startups enthusiasts.
Turning to the questions, we've discussed on the “Media Strategy for IT companies and startups” workshop. Is there any formula of a successful pitching of journalists and editors?
No, I don’t think there’s one. There are, however, a few things you should keep in mind when talking to journalists:
What do the pitches that get hold of you look like?
They’re relevant to my areas of interest (CEE, media, hardware, etc.). They’re personalised. I have to say, however, that most of the stories I’m writing these days aren’t coming from pitches—as a freelancer focused on feature stories, I can be really picky about topics.
What are the TOP-3 mistakes that marketers make the most when pitching?
Sending a bare press-release instead of a pitch. Sending countless follow-ups by email and in social networks. Pitching without understanding what they want to achieve (as in “we’re a cool company, you should write about us”).
What is your advice to people who are trying to gain “rock star” sources' attention?
Keep trying. Some publications and journalists are more picky than others, which means you need to come up with more story angles. In addition to that, try to talk to the journalist in person to understand what kind of stories they’re after.
What sites do you surf every day?
For news reading, I use an RSS reader with some hundred feeds. I always read websites I’m writing for (Ars UK, TNW, StartupJuncture), but also try to at least skim through the stories that make it to my favourite aggregators, Techmeme and Mediagazer.
How do you wind down after work?
I play ultimate frisbee, ride a bicycle around, go plane spotting, play board games.
What will you be in the world of tech journalism in the next 5 years?
I don’t think any sane person can tell what they will be doing in five years. The reality around us is changing way too fast to make this kind of forecasts.