Gorkana Meets...Agustino Fontevecchia
Published: May 07, 2014
Firstly, tell us a bit about your role and the team.
I’m currently part of the wealth team, which deals mainly with the valuation of billionaires and our several marquee lists. Still, we all have several hats here at Forbes, and I contribute on several different projects, from soccer team valuations to hedge fund and private equity lists, and even some lifestyle stuff for Forbes Life. The combination of digital and print products we have here gives us the possibility of touching on several beats, if we so desire (some people decide to focus exclusively on one area).
What does a typical day look like for you?
What is typical has to do with the project at hand in the wealth team. During “billionaires (or 400) season,” the wealth team spends the vast majority of its time trying to nail down the net worth of every billionaire we know about, which includes setting up phone interviews with their personal assistants and PR teams, in person meetings with billionaires or other top executives at their companies, and a decent amount of time doing background research and number crunching. In the middle of all of this, we try to dedicate time to posting stories online, and if we happen to be closing a magazine issue those days, we’ll have to deal with factchecking and editing.
What sort of content are you keen to feature?
I’m really interested in what is going on behind the scenes in the world of power, and I believe money is as much part of that world as politics in a more narrow sense (elected office, etc). Understanding some of the world’s wealthiest people, and how they relate to the broader network of powerful people is what I’d like to concentrate on. To put it simply, I like to profile billionaires who are involved with important projects.
What do you wish you were covering more of?
Lifestyle content is very interesting and fun, particularly the spirits industry, and the world of luxury, which I occasionally touch on. Another area I’m really interested is sports business, particularly soccer (I generally contribute feature articles during our soccer team valuations issue).
How can PRs help with content?
PR can help me by offering specific pitches of important people that match the characteristics of what I cover or what I’d like to cover more closely (see my previous two answers). It’s good to develop a relationship with PR professionals that understand what kind of content one produces, so they must try to read some of what we write.
How and when is the best way for PRs to contact you and the team?
Email is always a good way, but it’s important for those emails to have the key elements toward the top (I want to know who, what, and why), and it’s also important that they pay attention to who they are emailing. When my name is misspelled or an email contains typos, then it ends up in the trash pretty quickly. Phone calls are only good after there has been some expression of interest from me.
Do you think the relationship between journalists and PRs has changed from when you first started you career? If so, in which way?
I don’t think it has changed from a broader perspective, but there’s people I’ve worked with several times and we have come to understand each other’s ways, and that’s helpful.
What other industry publications do you read and respect for their content or style?
I try to read a little of everything in order to have a broader perspective about what’s going on. New York Times and Dealbook are important, as is the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal. Blogs like ZeroHedge and Business Insider provide some perspective as well. Bloomberg and Reuters are good for the timeliness of their content, while foreign publications (Der Spiegel, El Mundo, The Telegraph) all help as well.
Do you have any guilty pleasure reading?
I wouldn’t call it a guilty pleasure, as many times you read interesting content that could lead to new ideas and inspiration, but Gawker and its universe of sites have a lot of wacky things. The NY Post is also in that category.
What is the best thing about doing your job?
I have the opportunity to meet some of the world’s most important and/or powerful people, many of which are hugely private in their day to day lives. Writing a good story also means adding to the story one is telling, meaning that in some way you are shaping what is going on beyond just communicating information.