I’m the Technology Editor at IndustryWeek magazine. I write for the C-suite and technology leaders in the manufacturing industry about technologies and their practical benefits. Ideally, I help these readers decide what technology initiatives to pursue at their companies and how to best set themselves up for success while doing so.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and data analytics stories roll across my desk often, and I think these may be the most important technologies available to manufacturers today. I think it’s essential to make clear that technology initiatives are not the exclusive purview of huge companies with matching budgets. Even small- and medium-sized manufacturers can reap significant returns from IIoT/data analytics projects.
I write a considerable number of cybersecurity stories as well, something I didn’t anticipate when I started working this beat. This is a topic I don’t think enough manufacturers are paying attention to, and I think they really ought to be, especially as factories become increasingly networked and manufacturers share more data and network access with third-party vendors.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
My first beat was the video game industry, and journalists in that field encounter insanity on a regular basis. I once stood in line in a facsimile of a prison camp run by North Korean soldiers while waiting for a demo of a game set in a world where North Korea invaded and occupied the United States.
I once demo’ed a virtual reality horror game that had me squatting on the floor, not daring to look up out of sheer terror while asking the game developers to please turn the demo off. I imagine stories in the manufacturing technology world will always be tame by comparison, and while I miss the insanity of the video game industry, it’s nice to write on a practical topic.
Manufacturing technology when deployed effectively makes work less dirty, less dangerous and more fulfilling for factory employees and helps businesses hire more workers and pay them healthier wages.
A much more practical and useful topic to write about vs. pretending to fight off North Korean invasions and having the wits scared out of you by monsters in VR.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
It’s easy to find examples of manufacturing technology deployments at huge companies with tremendous resources to throw at the problem. It’s the stories about small- and medium-sized companies that mean the most to me personally.
I wrote about a metal parts manufacturer in Ohio that tackled the challenge of additive manufacturing and now gets business it otherwise may not have. I wrote about an elastomer manufacturer, also in Ohio, that adopted data analytics and can now handle larger volumes of work with more confidence than before. Both stories demonstrate the point I made earlier, that even smaller companies can benefit from technology initiatives.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
Concrete results. Speaking personally as well as professionally, I don’t really care about what a technology could or should do. On my previous beat I grew well acquainted with the Gartner Hype Cycle, technology endlessly talked up and relentlessly marketed that never gets mainstreamed like the pundits and enthusiasts said it would, like what you’re seeing currently with the Metaverse hype…
I regularly receive pitches for SME interviews, and the first thing I tell the PR reps is “Does [name of SME]’s company have any customer stories?” If the tech the SME wants to talk about is relevant, it’s generating qualitative/quantitative results somewhere. That’s what my audience wants to know, and they want to hear about it from other manufacturers, not SMEs.
There are two exceptions to this: cutting edge tech that manufacturers are just figuring out what to do with (5G networks is my current, prime example) and cybersecurity stories as manufacturers (or any other company) aren’t keen to share tales of network breaches and the costs they paid accordingly.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
In 2010 I watched a video of some pundits sitting on a couch, discussing the issues of the day and thought “I can do that.” I began freelancing as a feature writer a few months later and building my mentor network, and the rest is history. I moved into B2B publishing specifically in 2018.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Spending time with my daughter or wife, and when they’ve had enough of me, playing video games online with my friends. It’s nice to be able to spend time daily with friends in Texas and California and Vancouver and Scotland without actually leaving the house. In the age of COVID it’s been a particular blessing.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Read some of my stories to get an idea as to what I might be interested in before you pitch me.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
Clearly not reading any of my stories to get an idea as to what I might be interested in before pitching me.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, some fact about you that few people know, etc.)
I don’t know if all technology writers are one flavor of geek or another but in my experience it’s common and I’m no different. I’ve already mentioned gaming. I like to build models when I find the time. I’m obsessed with growing a healthy lawn and often found outside weeding, planting and watering. My wife and I enjoy binging television shows. She prefers British period costume drama, and it will come as no surprise that I spend a lot of time watching sci-fi. Finding common media ground between us is challenging, but she is very patient with my choices. :)
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