Rick is a prolific sports and technology writer, and was named the No. 1 sports technology writer in the U.S. according to Quantcast. Here he shares his tips for a solid pitch, his true love for the Greenbay Packers, and growing up in a tennis family.
1. What publications/ outlets are you currently reporting for?
Examiner.com (Daily tech column)
GAFollowers.com (Everything Georgia, reach of 210,000)
Yahoo News and Yahoo Sports
Atlanta Journal Constitution (Sports pieces for the Living Section also Travel Section)
CBS Atlanta – CBS Interactive
Many others from time to time – NBA.com, Southeast Georgia Living, USTA, etc
Media Coordinator for USTA Tennis Classic of Macon (Women’s pro tennis event)
MyrtleBeachGolfHoliday.com – Write a featured tech column (monthly)
Ass’t Media Director – BB&T Atlanta Open (ATP Men’s Tour tennis event) 2015
“Wireless Wednesday” – Weekly tech segment on SportsRadio 92.9 The Game in Atlanta
“Tech Segment”: – every Friday on “The Sully Show” on 640 am WGST in Atlanta
“The Tech of Sports” – Radio show on weekly
“Conversation Corner” – Radio show with Steve Lee on – bi-weekly
Regular television tech segments for Fox 5 in Atlanta, NBC 11 Alive in Atl and WMAZ in Macon
2. What topics/ beats/ stories are of special interest to you right now?
I tend to concentrate on sports and technology and the intersection of the two topics. Sports tech is my main beat, but I also cover general technology, apps and gadgets for my daily column. With the economy rebounding a little in 2014, sports travel has been hot to go along with my sports tech pieces. On a smaller scale, sports tech leads me into covering the fitness industry, sports business and the small business universe. It’s not just the major sports I cover, a lot of my work involves tennis and golf, but also Bassmasters fishing, beach volleyball, visiting stadiums and arenas and even growing sports like pickleball and curling.
3. Please provide a brief bio including your background, interests, personal projects, family, what you’d be if you weren’t a writer, etc.
I’m just happy to be doing what I do for a living. I get to combine my love of sports, technology and travel and for me, it’s not even really work. But I do work very hard and often 7 days a week. My wife of seven years, Lindsay gives me latitude and space to do what I do. She’s a teacher and when her schedule permits, she has come along on some trips. She has given up going to dinner or a night at the movies so I could talk with a coach, a player or a CEO of a tech company. We live in Woodstock, GA with our two-year old Daschund, “Pearl.” We love to try new restaurants and she loves to drag me to an outlet mall. She’s a Chicago Bears fan, I’m a Green Bay Packers fan, so I have bragging rights and Aaron Rodgers.
4. Why did you become a journalist?
This is a second career or a rebirth for me after spending 15 years in public and private accounting, software consulting and financial management. I love to write and my passions are sports and technology. I think I have the best gig in the world.
5. What story of yours are you most proud of and why? What story do you wish you’d written?
Wow, there are so many I’m proud of, but I like to mention two where I received tremendous feedback from readers. The piece I wrote on how the Indiana Pacers are using Google Glass for fan engagement at home games held the front page of NBA.com for an entire day during the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Also the piece I wrote on Fall Golf in the South for the Atlanta Journal Constitution in 2013 received critical acclaim from readers, editors and those in the golf industry. It’s still behind the AJC pay wall. I don’t want to not mention my bestselling book with Danielle Lao about her college tennis experience, “The Invaluable Experience.” I have another piece coming out that was a plum assignment for me. A travel piece on the city of Green Bay and Green Bay Packers training camp will be coming out in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
I wish I would’ve been in Ancient Greece to cover the first Olympic Games.
6. What’s the best pitch you ever got?
Here are two. Haley Hammerling, a PR pro out of New York, knows what makes me tick. Her pitches are short and sweet and often she includes an infographic for me to look at and get a general idea of what she is pitching. I love infographics and sometimes use them in my article. Haley also knows her stuff, has helped me when I got in a bind and keeps her pitches short, but always leaves the door open if I want more info.
Here’s another for obvious reasons. A pitch to come to Lanai in December to play golf and check out the renovations to the Four Seasons Resort. Again the pitch is short and it offers me some flexibility. It’s a great pitch from a great PR company that I have done a lot of trips with. They are first class and so is the pitch.
7. What was so good about it?
They are short, they have the info I need to know if I want to use the pitch, take a trip or want additional information. It’s no secret, this business is about relationships and people. There is no doubt I will give more attention to a pitch from someone that has taken the time to get to know me and what I do. Haley does that and so do the PR companies that offer FAM trips.
8. What are some tips for people who want to pitch you a story?
Know a little about me and what I cover, so we aren’t wasting each other’s time. Saying “Hi Rick” at the start of the email is a great start, otherwise I figure the email is going to a 1000 other journalists. Make sure your font and font size is consistent throughout the pitch. If is isn’t I can tell you just cut and pasted my name etc, into the pitch. That is one of my few pet peeves. Make the pitch short, if I want more info or quotes I will get back with you.
9. (Optional) What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I come from a tennis family. My father was a state champion tennis player, my sister played No. 1 at Marquette University and I was a state ranked junior player. I still like to play for fun and in media/charity matches. I play a lot of golf now. I went to Iowa State University and was there when current Iowa State basketball coach and NBA player, Fred Hoiberg was in high school in Ames. I used to play pickup basketball with him and since I was the next tallest player, I had to guard him and he guarded me. 5 years later, when he was playing for the Indiana Pacers, he was guarding a guy named Michael Jordan in the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs. I’m a big Green Bay Packers fan.