May 24, 2022

For Vivian Liu, Technology Journalist at Commercial Times, a major financial newspaper in Taiwan, she did not start out wanting to become a journalist.

An avid learner of languages and cultures, she was a university exchange student in France, where she majored in French. After graduation, her first job was a sales specialist, who was responsible for channel development for consumer electronics products in French-speaking countries. However, it was at that job, where she discovered an interest in writing, which paved the way for her to become a journalist. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Today, Vivian has been working in the media industry for 10 years – most of it was spent on reporting on finance and economics. Her work also includes translating foreign financial news, editing, and interviewing. She now focuses on interviews with C-suite executives and entrepreneurs.

Vivian says: "The best thing about being a journalist is that I can meet people and gain experiences in different fields every day." Through interviews, she has also amassed contacts with C-level executives in the finance and technology sectors. In fact, she feels that, in addition to interviewing company executives, she also enjoys chatting with employees to get a more holistic view of businesses. She explains that many employees are the front-line personnel, who sometimes know more about the actual company situation and can get her closer to the truth.

PR Newswire’s Sharlene Chou (right) chats with Vivian Liu (left) Commercial Times Technology Journalist on the Behind The Byline Podcast.

As a reporter, she also thinks attitude is very important. One thing that she always reminds herself is that no one is irreplaceable. Journalists may wield a lot of influence through words, but once "the hype” is removed, she often reflects on what’s left. As such, she feels that it is very important to be humble and always keep the spirit of learning.

In the third episode of PR Newswire’s monthly podcast series, Behind The Byline, Vivian shares about the news cycle of a financial newspaper, which revolves around the operations of the Taiwan Stock Exchange, and her most memorable interviews with the who's who of Taiwan's tech industry. She also shares how she prepares for her interviews with CEOs and entrepreneurs and what keeps her going in the fast-paced tech world. When it comes to press releases, Vivian shares what types of content get her attention when it comes to tech products and services, and the tech trends that are on her radar.

The podcast is available on Spotify, Anchor, and YouTube. This podcast episode is conducted in Chinese.


Here’re the highlights from the podcast:

1. Share with us what your day-to-day work schedule is like?

In addition to publishing breaking news in the morning, I need to produce two more stories for the print version of the newspaper for the next day. This must be done before 2 pm on each day. As for my work schedule, I usually check to see if there are important press conferences. If not, I will make appointments for exclusive interviews or work on articles on special topics.

Typically, journalists in a financial newspaper are quite busy in the afternoon. The Taiwan Stock Exchange trades from 9:00 am to 1:30 pm on weekdays. Even after the market closes, we will need to pay attention to important online company announcements on their business and revenue. As such, we are very busy from 1.30 pm till 5 or 6 pm. In addition, listed companies tend to release the monthly earnings report by the 10th of each month. So, we are also busier from the 1st   to the 10th of every month. And, we will also look out for quarterly financial reports.

2. When you receive so many press releases in your mailbox, which ones grab your attention most?

Journalists receive a lot of press releases daily so the email subject lines are very important. Usually, I ignore press releases with lengthy titles that are written in overtly ‘marketing’ language. If the headline seems like an ad, I will ignore the email.

Take e-commerce for an example, I received a lot of press releases in the lead-up to Mother's Day and Singles’ Day. Many press releases that were sent by e-commerce companies focused too much on their products and promotions, so it is difficult to cover them. I would be more interested in the press releases that can offer different perspectives and trends by comparing relevant data from previous years.

Journalist Vivian Liu (right) interviewed Sean Lim CEO of Indonesian e-commerce start-up All Young in 2019. (Photo courtesy of Vivian Liu)

3. You have interviewed numerous CEOs and entrepreneurs. How do you prepare for such interviews?

Before the interview, I would familiarize myself with industry happenings by reading recent financial reports of the newsmakers’ companies. Sometimes, I can come up with interesting questions by looking at the figures in these reports. In addition, I would look up more information on the newsmaker online and his/her related news. As interview opportunities with C-suite execute do not come often, I would plan my questions ahead and group them into 3 categories: industry observations, company operations, and about the interviewee. I would ask these questions all at once so that I can also leave a little more content for future stories.

4. What are the upcoming trends in 2022 that you would be keen to cover?

I prefer interviews with start-ups and venture capitals rather than listed companies, as I think that I can be exposed to new ideas, knowledge, and entrepreneurial concepts. Trend-wise, I think that Web 3.0 is the next wave of the Internet revolution, especially with DeFi, GameFi applications of blockchain, and NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), which is a hot topic.

For more insights into the workings of a technology journalist and media pitching tips on pitching technology stories, listen to this podcast episode now


1m35s: Vivian’s introduction

2m50s: What got Vivian started in journalism?

3m41s: Newspaper production process in Commercial Times

4m31s: Busiest working hours of a journalist

5m21s: Trading calendar plays a crucial role

5m54s: Tips on making PR articles stand out to the media

6m37s: Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected journalists?

7m01s: Differences between in-person interviews and online interviews

10m01s: Vivian’s most memorable interviews

11m25s: How does she prepare for interviews?

13m11s: The best part about being a journalist

15m37s: Biggest takeaways of being a journalist

21m09s: Importance of writing effective pitch headlines

22m11s: Tips on creating unique PR content

23m42s: How media pitches can be improved?

30m58s: Ways to maintain a good relationship with the media

32m50s: Upcoming tech trends

NOW READ: Behind The Byline Podcast: With Luisa Tam, Senior Editor, South China Morning Post

Look out for upcoming episodes of the Behind The Byline podcast on our Spotify, Anchor, and YouTube channels, so be sure to subscribe to them to receive the latest episodes! 

Up next in June, we will be chatting with Rachel AJ Lee, Assistant Editor of travel trade publications, TTGmice & TTGassociations. Stay tuned!

This article is written by Sharlene Chou, Audience Development Specialist, Taiwan at PR Newswire.