Journalist’s instinct and can-do attitude lead Poovenraj Kanagaraj (Raj) to piece together his own business news website.
When Raj was an editor with a monthly business magazine in 2020, he noticed the lack of attention to entrepreneurs’ stories from the mainstream media. As a result, he started a newsletter called Head’s up to make their voices heard. Among the 12,000 subscribers Raj has garnered in two years’ time, an investor got in touch and backed him to expand the coverage. That is how his platform Disruptr comes into play.
Disruptr covers the latest news on start-ups, entrepreneurs, and social enterprises in Malaysia. Unlike the traditional media, which emphasizes the interviewees’ achievements, products, and funding sources, Raj and his team pay more attention to their journey about mentorship, regrets, and failures.
“I do enjoy interviewing successful entrepreneurs who can make use of their knowledge and experience – not just the good ones but the bad ones as well – that can serve to help the up-and-coming entrepreneurs,” Raj said. “You can tell other entrepreneurs to avoid the same mistakes. Why would we want someone else to go through the same difficulty and challenge when we have learned and benefitted from it?”
As an editor, Raj has interviewed countless numbers of start-up founders over the years. But let’s not forget Raj is a founder himself, who embodies the same entrepreneurial spirit of his interviewees. He stays curious and remains committed the whole time.
In the ninth episode of PR Newswire’s monthly podcast series, Behind The Byline, Raj talks about how he established Disruptr, his most memorable assignments, stories that catch his attention, and what he expects from media pitches and press releases. He also discusses how Covid has altered the media landscape and the prospects of print publications.
Here’re the highlights from the podcast:
1. When it comes to receiving pitches or press releases from PR professionals, what do you look out to that grabs your attention?
What I always look forward to is a very direct pitch. We tend to get a lot of pitch in a day. I appreciate those who are very direct and straightforward – give me a profile who you want me to interview, something that is interesting which is not done all the time, founders who have innovative solutions that can help the community grow.
I also look for pitch that knows what Disruptr focuses on. We are very clear in what we do. We focus on start-ups, SMEs, social enterprises, entrepreneurships.
2. What other stories can start-ups share aside from the typical achievement, idea & funding?
I think you don’t find a lot of sharing about regrets, warnings of what not to do, and what to avoid. 7 to 8 years into entrepreneurship, we would have learned from our mistakes, and be able to tell other entrepreneurs to avoid the same mistakes. Why would we want someone else to go through the same difficulty and challenge when we have learned and benefitted from it? Others can benefit from our experiences.
It will also be good for us to start exploring stories of workplace culture in start-ups. It is originally presented as something very fancy and new, but there are many challenges that people do not know the difference between running a start-up and working in a well-established company. Stories of failures are very interesting to me as well, you keep rising from every failure.
3. How does becoming an editor cultivate your views and understandings of how the media industry practices have shifted over the years especially during Covid?
The shift was always going to be ‘short news, fast news, short news, fast news’. I wouldn’t say the fast news culture is bad or good. I am not a big fan of it because fast news is you have to take out a lot of information and keep whatever you can and do a very compact write-up. That has influenced the way we read, the way we consume information in a way where everyone is looking for shorter news.
With Covid and having to manage a magazine during Covid has taught me that not everything has to be short news. I didn’t want to follow that trend of short news. I enjoy writing long-form news – a thousand words, two thousand words. There were growing number of readers who read what we did at that time.
1m35s: Fun facts about Raj
3m24s: What does Disruptr do
6m28s: Raj’s most memorable assignment with Disruptr
9m37s: Media pitches and press releases that grab Raj’s attention
11m46s: How to improve media pitches
14m07s: News in the start-up industry that Raj is looking out
17m48s: What other stories can start-ups share
22m08s: Shift of media practices since Covid
26m01s: Prospects of print publications
This is the last episode of Behind The Byline podcast. We hope you enjoy listening to it. Coming up next is an article about the 5 things we learned from journalists and editors on the podcast!