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It’s not every day that we get a highly influential technology journalist and a published crime novelist in our offices. Then again, there’s always something cool and interesting going on at Welz & Weisel Communications – officially recognized as a great place to work in the region – so nothing should surprise us.
In this case, we recently had Dennis Fisher, editor-in-chief at Threatpost, over for a nice lunch and chat. Fisher is also author of the new fictional book, Motherless Children, a gripping tome about bloody gang wars, grisly corpses discovered in watery graves and a quest for redemption on the part of the book’s detective protagonist, Danny Tobin. Fisher told us that he wrote the book during his off-hours, writing and revising for about a year. While a major character is an IT security expert, he says he intentionally did not write a tech-themed book so he could “stretch his legs” and try something different. It’s great reading, so buy it now!
After discussing the book, we switched back to tech talk so we could pick Fisher’s head about the kind of client/story pitches that work best for him. Fisher was happy to put on his editor hat and offer the following insights:
Pitch the story first, the product/solution second. In this sense, writing crime fiction and IT security news isn’t all that different. As a high tech PR agency, we stress to our clients that it’s key to build a pitch based upon the strength of a building trend or breaking news story ‑ as opposed to making the client’s product/services the entire thrust. Think tactical themes about attacks and vulnerabilities, Fisher says, and focus on the problems/challenges that enterprise customers face.
Giving the client a voice. Fisher loves getting executive-penned guest columns, especially if they take the approach detailed above. Another great outlet: Threatpost podcasts, for which execs can go in depth on topics for up to a half hour. W2 Communications is raising the visibility of our clients by generating content like this. We find that podcasts and executive-bylined features can go into far greater detail than standard press releases, and help get our clients placed in a long line of high-profile publications/outlets.
Get the customer. Often, the best way to tell the client’s story is via a positive customer experience. Fisher likes these features and wishes he could do more. But, as always, the focus must remain on increasing the readers’ understanding of the problems/challenges faced by a customer, and how this represents a broader issue that must be tactically tackled.
If Fisher weren’t so helpful and informed as an editor, we’d wish him all the success in the world in a new career as an author. But we prefer that he stick around at Threatpost. Selfishly, we hope he’s one journalist who – even if his book is great – never “quits the day job.”
Dennis McCafferty is Director of Content for W2 Communications.