I am the finance and technology reporter at Crain’s Detroit Business, covering the startup sector in Ann Arbor and Detroit, as well as the region’s banks and lenders, such as Rocket Mortgage and UWM.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
The mortgage lenders had an insane year and all went public, so much of that has been dominating coverage. I’ve been trying to follow what kinds of innovation we’ll see coming out of the pandemic, as well. Times of crisis, as we’ve had the last year, tend to be good times for business formation and new innovation, so I expect to see some interesting trends emerge.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
Covering the mortgage companies like Rocket and UWM going public has been quite the experience. These are large, long-standing companies that traditionally have kept their books mostly closed. Digging through and trying to decipher hundreds of pages of financial information — and then distill that data into a story people will read — has been both daunting and amazingly fun.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
Not too long ago I reported on how a local venture capitalist had been among the early investors in the company that went on to become Moderna, now one of three companies with a vaccine against COVID-19. Finding stories that show the impact of our financial industry are somewhat rare, but are fun and rewarding when you come across them.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
Particularly within my role as a finance reporter, money is always a good news hook. That’s also true in the startup technology reporting I do. I get a lot of pitches about a company being started and that’s the news hook being offered. While often interesting, our readers really like the financial angle, so I tend to gravitate toward that.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I began in journalism in around 2010, mostly by accident. I had been recently laid off from a job at Coca-Cola that’d I’d had for a number of years. I had no clue what I wanted to do next and there was a local citizen journalism outlet in Grand Rapids – where I’m from – that had recently begun. I did some stories there for fun, which led to some paid freelance work, and ultimately a career.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Walking or biking around Detroit, where I moved last January just before the pandemic. I also got back into golf last summer and have become a bit of an addict.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Again, focus on money and the financial angle. Typically, I turn down pitches where the story will just be, “here’s a company and they exist and here’s some interesting facts about them.” And try to avoid soaring rhetoric in your pitches. Just keep it simple and tell me why you think the story idea you’re pitching fits in with what I/we (Crain’s) cover. Bonus points if you have good data points to support it. And assuming you’re a PR person with whom I already know, you’ll probably get further with a phone call than an email.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
There does seem to be a lack of recognition by some in the PR world about the sheer volume of stories pitches and emails reporters get. It’s dozens per day and I know I’m not alone in just feeling that my inbox is overwhelming. It’s not personal if I don’t get back to you.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)
I’m a Grand Rapids native who joined Crain’s Detroit in January of 2020. I live in the Lafayette Park neighborhood of Detroit with my fiancée Krista.
You can follow Nick on Twitter at @nickrmanes
Recent stories from Nick Manes include: