Ask the Expert – Kate Wilson, Vancouver Tech Journal

January 4, 2023

Ask the Expert - Kate Wilson, Vancouver Tech Journal

Kate Wilson is the Managing Editor at the Vancouver Tech Journal, where she manages a team of three full-time editorial staff and several freelance reporters.

Kate has written for numerous publications, including The Independent newspaper, TechCrunch, BetaKit, the Georgia Straight, B.C. Business, VR Scout, VR Focus, and Adbusters magazine. She now directs the production and publication of the Vancouver Tech Journal’s articles, newsletters, website, and other digital properties, sharing her valuable insights with the Canadian tech community.

What is your favourite part about working in tech journalism?

I started my career in music journalism, covering arts and entertainment at the U.K. newspaper The Independent and then Vancouver’s the Georgia Straight. Don’t get me wrong – that was a really fun job! (As a massive music nerd, fifteen-year-old me was definitely screaming every time my adult self got to chat to my favourite artists.) Funnily enough, I’ve found the tech industry to be in many ways more vibrant than the music world. For me, the best part about working in tech journalism is being part of a community of people who are working to tackle the big issues of our generation. I strongly believe that a rising tide floats all boats, and that collaboration will raise up the entire Vancouver tech ecosystem. Being able to spotlight some of our fantastic companies through our editorial work – and helping bring people together at our events – is my favourite part of my job.

How has your role as editor for Vancouver Tech Journal been different from previous roles?

Vancouver Tech Journal is unique among publications I’ve worked on because we only focus on one particular niche. I’ve found that at publications with a border mandate, the departments can be siloed. Because all of our team members are focused on Vancouver tech, it makes a big difference – fun-wise – to be able to collaborate and talk shop with each other. It’s also much easier to resource our writers’ time. Our team members each have their own areas of expertise and interest, but with many versatile writers on one beat, we’re able to cover a very comprehensive slate of news.I’ve also had to pay closer attention to the tone of our coverage. Vancouver Tech Journal is here to provide the local tech community with the news that it needs, and that means publishing everything that’s happening in our ecosystem – not just the good things! We’re embedded in our community and want to help it grow, but we’re not just cheerleaders for Vancouver tech. Our coverage must maintain that distinction, so our readers know they can trust our brand to deliver all of the news, not just the positive stories.

What do you hope people learn and take away from your work? 

A deeper understanding of the depth and breadth of the fantastic companies that we have in Vancouver. When you’re so embedded in the community here, it’s easy to forget that – on a global scale – Vancouver is a tiny tech market, and that internationally it’s seen as such. However, I believe that our tech community is heavily underrated. I hope that through Vancouver Tech Journal’s coverage, the local industry starts to gain more recognition on a global scale – something that will also help with our ecosystem’s challenges of talent shortages and attracting venture capital.

What is your advice for PR and communications professionals pitching tech-focused publications?

On a really basic level, I have three criteria that a pitch needs to meet for me to consider writing a story. Firstly, is it timely? Secondly, do I think our readers will find the story interesting? Thirdly, will this article provide value to our readers and tech community? Make sure you spell out the answers to each of these points in your pitch.

Keep your pitches short. I receive a ridiculous amount of emails every day – not all pitches, but many are. Your first line has to grab attention. Immediately tell the publication why your story matters, and why their readers should care.

Personal connections matter. Journalists are only human, and while it’s nice to think that all pitches are evaluated equally, if you have a personal relationship with an editor or writer, I can guarantee that they’ll read your email – and are more likely to respond (even if it’s a no).

Know and research the publication you’re pitching. Nothing turns a journalist off faster than sending them a story that they’ve already covered. Plus, your pitch is only going to be accepted if it hits the mark for that particular outlet. I receive a lot of pitches from companies outside of Vancouver (and even Canada), which are an immediate no, because it doesn’t fall within our mandate of covering Vancouver tech.

What inspired you to pursue a career in media and communications? 

I’ve always wanted to write for a living. I spent a lot of time in academia at Cambridge University, doing my undergrad, masters, and starting a PhD, before realizing that I preferred the rush of daily stories over crafting years-long theses. My favourite thing in life is learning new things. With journalism – and particularly tech journalism – I get to fill that cup every day through research, reading, writing, and producing stories that make a difference and contribute to the public understanding.

If you were not in the media, what industry would you wish to work in?

I love being outdoors, and occasionally have fantasies of what it would be like to work in conservation. In a different life, I’d be out in the woods doing scientific research about the natural world, then sitting in my off-grid cabin to write novels. Assuming, of course, that my dream to become an Olympic hockey player didn’t work out.