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I am currently the technology editor at IndustryWeek where I focus on helping readers make sense of new and evolving technologies. I have the amazing opportunity to constantly learn about the latest innovations and what their adoption could mean for manufacturers.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
Advances in automation, wearables, AI, additive manufacturing and IoT are always on my radar. However, big picture, I am very interested in the ongoing smart evolution. There are so many facets (IoT devices, sensors, EVs, AVs, etc.) contributing to a truly dynamic and interconnected ecosystem.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
For many years, I covered the field of project management. During that time, I tracked and covered the massive infrastructure project affectionately known as the Big Dig. With all of its intricacies and unknowns, the project ended up going out of scope, over budget and eclipsed every timeline. Truly a once in a lifetime type of endeavor. More recently, I am having fun covering the various electrification efforts sure to transform the automotive industry.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
My favorite stories often tell the story of how innovations touch people’s lives. Perhaps one of my recent favorites was the result of an interview with John Deere. How innovation empowers farmers to constantly improve the process of planting, nurturing and harvesting crops is something that ultimately impacts all of us. The same is true in covering the introduction of the Monarch tractor. Farming is not really my beat, but these are perfect examples of factories on wheels. For something automotive specific, covering the Hyundai Elevate was a great way to look at what’s possible.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
Since my beat is all about innovation, I am always looking for stories that explain why a specific technology or invention will make a difference. What does it truly accomplish? What does that look like in practice? Is it even practical? My automotive stories usually focus on the electrification evolution, trends in autonomy, or the growing use of technologies like additive manufacturing. Whenever I can tie the technology to an actual use case, the result is a winning story.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I spent 23 years as a full-time freelance journalist covering just about every topic you can imagine. I got my start in journalism when I pitched a story about a cutting tool innovation. I was offered the opportunity to write a column. I have never looked back.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Spending time with family. Travelling during non-pandemic times. Staying busy and enjoying life.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Take a little time to understand the publication’s audience before pitching. Most of our readers at IndustryWeek are deeply engrained into the manufacturing sector. Take a look at a few of my articles to understand what I regularly cover. Is your pitch in alignment? If so, please reach out to me.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
I appreciate when PR people are excited about a client. However, immediate follow-up can be frustrating, and it’s often counter intuitive. I do my best to at least skim through all my emails, and if something is a fit, I will definitely respond.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)
I am married to a kindergarten teacher and we have one adult son. I enjoy cooking and baking artisan breads. My curiosity means I am always trying to learn how to do new things. Something not many people know about me…I co-own a candy company with my son.
You can follow Peter and IndustryWeek on Twitter at: @pfretty and @IndustryWeek. You can also find Peter on LinkedIn here: linkedin.com/in/pfretty.
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