How to Pitch: ArabNet

Sunday, 7 August 2016

ArabNet has been covering the region’s digital businesses, tech start-ups and entrepreneurs since 2009. Managing Editor, Rita Makhoul, spoke to MediaSource about the Beirut-based company’s news website and print magazine, what she looks for in a PR pitch, and how start-ups can pitch their own news.

Tell us a bit about ArabNet. 
The ArabNet portal features news, analysis, interviews and polls that provide insight into the present and future of web and mobile business in the region, as well as up-to-the-minute accounts of the opportunities out there. The content is written by members of the ArabNet team, as well as guest contributors, and is aimed at digital professionals, industry leaders, investors and entrepreneurs, developers and geeks.

Our magazine, The Quarterly, launched in March 2014 and covers digital business, technology, media and entrepreneurship in the MENA region. The magazine’s readership ranges from top business executives to tech savvy graduates.

How do you prefer to be contacted by PRs and marketers?
I tend to find a phone call following up an email is always helpful as we can discuss and bounce ideas off each other.

What makes for a good PR pitch?
First and foremost, it’s essential that whoever is pitching has read our content and has an understanding of the topics we cover and what our readers find appealing.  It’s also important to ensure they provide the information we need to make the piece as unique as possible, including supporting media. There isn’t a preferred format - so long as it’s digital and images are high-res, then we’re happy.

What makes a bad pitch?
When I’m sent topics that aren’t relevant to ArabNet. I think many PR executives just send out mass emails to their entire media list, either that or they have no idea what ArabNet is about!

Any advice for start-ups looking for coverage?
Most start-ups tend not to hire PR agencies to handle their media due to budget constraints. What I tend to tell them is to keep their audience in mind; don’t sell, appeal to emotions, and find an angle. For example, if the start-up is an app, how would the audience benefit from that app? What problem does the app solve? Are there any interesting stats they have that can support the case? What funding/investments have they received, and what are their future plans?

When is the best time to pitch to you?
Our content portal is planned a month in advance for our core pieces, but news pieces can be submitted at any time. The magazine is published quarterly so stories for that should be pitched weeks in advance.

What can PRs do to improve the way they work with you?
Focus their energy on building mutually beneficial human relationships, rather than one-sided business relationships. This would take us a long way.