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Deborah Lockridge is the editor in chief of Heavy Duty Trucking, which includes the Truckinginfo.com website and various other digital and social media efforts and events. She is responsible for the overall direction of the print and digital content, as well as producing content herself, and managing the team of editors and freelancers.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
The big thing right now in trucking and logistics is technology, whether it’s the path to autonomous trucks, electric vehicles, or using machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict when parts will fail or the right price for shipping a load from Point A to Point B. But at the same time, our readers still want evergreen, back-to-basics how-to stories on how to manage their businesses and their fleets profitably, safely, and efficiently.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
A couple stand out. One was covering Daimler Trucks North America’s big unveil of its autonomous concept truck, the Freightliner Inspiration. They literally used the Hoover Dam as a giant projection screen. (https://www.truckinginfo.com/156082/the-freightliner-inspiration-event) On a previous magazine, I wrote a story about how the Crow Indians were running their own trucking fleet as a means of economic development. I flew to Montana and attended a pow-wow and even slept in a teepee.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
When I first became editor after being a writer and a managing editor for many years, I found it a real challenge to write editorials — it was hard to take a stand on an issue after a career of writing balanced pieces that made sure to represent all sides of the story. So when I write something that really resonates with my readers, that’s something I’m proud of. When I won a Jesse H. Neal award for best commentary in 2018, I felt I had done well, following in the footsteps of Doug Condra, the former head of HDT, who was known for his editorials.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
Something that’s going to help our readers stay on top of the latest trends and technology or learn how to run their business better. Something with a hook that’s going to attract readers. A good lead, writing that’s easy to understand, and good visuals.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I took journalism in high school when I needed an English credit and was hooked. I got a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1986 and worked at a tiny farm magazine before going to work for a B2B publisher that put out a trucking and a construction magazine in 1990.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
polishing my cat-herding and juggling skills.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Build a relationship; I’m far more likely to listen to pitches from people I’ve worked with before. Show me you understand our audience and our content needs. Pitch me something exclusive. Make life easy for me by providing background, great photos or artwork, even video. Understand I can’t run every release.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
Here are some of the biggest ones:
• Press releases and emails written in techno- or business-buzzword jargon and acronyms. If I don’t understand what you’re talking about in the first few sentences, it’s going in the trash.
• People who clearly haven’t taken any time to understand our audience and the kind of content we use.
• People who call me wanting to know if we’re going to run their press release. I get dozens every single day. Even worse, when they get my voice mail, hang up and immediately try again without leaving a message.
• People who try to hold the fact that their company is an advertiser over my head to try to get me to run a release, or who go to my publisher with a pitch or a complaint instead of the editor.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
My husband and I met at the Mid-America Trucking Show in 1991. We were both working for the same publishing company but hadn’t had a chance to work together yet. We clicked, both personally and professionally. We’ve worked together off and on over the years since and celebrated our 27th anniversary this year. We have a 16-year-old daughter who’s a budding thespian. I’m also a Girl Scout leader, love good food (whether it’s cooking or going to restaurants), read a lot of science fiction, and I like to get in touch with my inner grade-schooler’s love of pretty paper, scissors and tape by scrapbooking.
You can follow Deborah on Twitter at: @Deb_Lockridge