I’m a freelancer who has contributed to The Drive, Truck Trend, Overland Journal, AutoWeb, The Truth About Cars, AutoGuide, AutomotiveMap and more.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now? I tend to specialize a bit in pickup trucks, how they’re used, and a little bit of fleet related uses. What I love about covering trucks is a single vehicle can be used for many different tasks. The buyers are also quite diverse. I also pay close attention to electrification and it’s fascinating to see how that technology is being brought to trucks.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written. For pure crazy, I attended the NASCAR truck race at Eldora Speedway and then spent the next day jumping Raptors at a makeshift course Tony Stewart’s team setup for us. Tony Stewart participated in the mayhem, as did Ford Performance head Dave Pericak.
What story or stories are you most proud of? A trip to Morocco in the fall of 2018 is high on the list. This writeup was also printed in the Toronto Star (Canada’s largest newspaper) and the first time my auto writing was featured in print. (https://www.autoguide.com/manufacturer/nissan/why-aren-t-nissan-trucks-as-popular-here-as-they-are-around-the-world) That trip also lead to contacts with other magazines that lead to features in both Truck Trend and Overland Journal.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story? I like stories that are actual stories. Many days deciphering press releases or evaluating news vehicles is part of the job, but there’s an opportunity to be unique and tell a story from a unique angle I appreciate it.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started? By education I have an MBA and stumbled into the world of automotive journalism. I’ve been doing it since 2013 and full-time since 2014. A friend of a friend needed to buy a new vehicle, and I helped him pick one out. He actually bought based on my recommendation (which is surprising because most people don’t actually seem to take my advice) and he was the editor of a tech website. He phoned me a month or two later and asked if I had any interest in helping them build out automotive content.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am … trying to convince people that whatever the new Star Trek series on CBS: All Access is it’s worth paying the $10/month to watch and that it’s real Star Trek even though it doesn’t necessarily feel like the Star Trek they grew up with.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you? Find a way to make it relevant or personalized to me. While I understand sometimes a mail-merged press release is the way to get work done, I’ve been known to reply to cold pitches that have something in the subject line relatable to what I cover or where I live. Ultimately though, I want to be a working relationship with the PR who pitch me. While not always possible, the PR folks I built a rapport with have a better chance getting placement because we are all human beings with many different things demanding our time. So when I have to prioritize that’s how I’ll do it.
Any pet peeves with PR people? I have two major ones. One is that I don’t like pitches that aren’t related to what I cover. Either your database is wrong or you need to take a minute to Google me to see if what you are trying to pitch is applicable to any of my audiences. Second, while it’s human nature for PR people to play favorites, there are others out there that you might not have a decade-long rapport with who has an audience that is worth your time. Be receptive to new people where possible.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.) I’m single and while I am a pet lover I don’t currently have a dog because my travel schedule is pretty intense (unless COVID-19 puts a stop to it all permanently). I’m car guy and a geek, and enjoy watching and reading science fiction.
You can follow Chad on Twitter at: @chadkirchner.