We’re always eager to hear good ideas about stories for the newsletter. Please review the below information and use these as guidelines before pitching a story, interview, or meeting. If you do, we guarantee a response. Oh, also please join our maillist to the right. Thanks!
Ideally, every Softletter story should offer a valuable benefit or important insight to the reader. Softletter is primarily a business newsletter, not a technology or news publication. That means we try to offer solutions to industry-wide business problems of marketing, product development, corporate management, business modeling, pricing, and turnarounds. We particularly like to interview people with fresh insight and views of the software business.
In particular, we pay attention to leading edge topics, such as new platforms, business transformations and transition, new channel approaches and new business models. We assume our readers are well grounded in traditional marketing and development skills, but look to Softletter to hear first about how their industry might be changing. For instance, Softletter was several years ahead of the rest of the pundits in spotting the massive impact SaaS was going to have on how software is sold. Today, we’re documenting a new major movement as the industry begins to move towards the development of portable software workspaces that exist independently of any device. And we’re also very interested in how new companies are monetizing their mobile applications and networks.
We’re also intensely interested in numbers. We produce a steady stream of hard statistical information, often in new areas where no one has compiled any research before. And just about every story we write includes some discussion of measurable results, costs, time, prices, and the like. We know this data is important to our readers, and we expect the people we interview to be willing to share at least some of their key numbers. (If you can’t or won’t, please don’t contact us.)
Another common focus for us might be called “expert tips.” We often interview consultants and specialists who can distil their knowledge into a few tight, actionable suggestions. Here, it’s important to remember that we’re addressing a very experienced audience, so you need to offer deep insights, not textbook advice.
We’re also receptive to stories based on major speeches and presentations, especially if a recording and slides are available.
Finally, there are several kinds of stories that mayb not be a good fit to us:
Emerging categories. Public relations people are fond of inventing new application and technology categories, presumably to lend an air of credibility to a relatively unknown product. However, these pitches almost never demonstrate that the new category will have an impact on the rest of the software industry. Be ready to demonstrate that your category is valid and truly emerging before contacting us with this claim.
Early startups. We receive many calls about “interesting” new companies. Often these publishers have little more than a half-finished product and an untested marketing strategy. We’re personally enthusiastic about entrepreneurship, but we prefer to see startups court prospective customers—not the press. If you think we should be looking for your company, we strongly suggest you have significant reference accounts we can talk to or can demonstrate a truly compelling new technology approach.
Products. Softletter doesn’t review products (though we will take a look at new or interesting systems for the purposes of industry analysis).We’re sometimes asked about major products by the trade and business press, so we’ll consider looking at or meeting with publishers (at your expense) who want to demo a high-visibility title. But even then, our emphasis is likely to be on business issues rather than specific product features.
Over-covered stories. In general, we’re are careful to avoid stories that have appeared in the general press or other newsletters. Even when we offer a unique perceptive, readers tend to see these stories as me-too coverage.
Softletter addresses a fairly narrow audience—senior and middle managers of software companies. The last time we surveyed our readership, about 50% held CEO and C”x”O and directors titles; most of the rest were consultants, investors, and industry observers.
Thus, the first question we ask about any story idea is, “Why would this interest our audience?” (The fact that you want to sell something to our audience is not a persuasive answer.) If you’re not clear about what is important to the people who run software companies, or if you’re pitching a generic idea aimed at “IT professionals” or “software programmers,” we’re unlikely to be interested.