In this latest installment of our journalist Q&A series, we chat with Steve Watkins, reporter for Investor’s Business Daily.

Steve writes for the Leaders & Success column, where he focuses on the themes of honesty, integrity, ethics, trust, accountability and responsibility in leadership. He chooses a general topic for each column –

Steve Watkins, Investor's Business Daily
Steve Watkins, Investor’s Business Daily

often inspired by a specific concept or chapter in a business book – and then interviews a handful of thought leaders for their perspective. We have found that while Steve does actually take the time to look through a book for a connection to his recurring themes (if it catches his attention, that is – see question three below), you can also flag a specific section or idea for him to make his job a bit easier. After all, that’s what publicists are for – right?

Steve took a few moments to share his thoughts on publicists, business books, and what catches his eye in a pitch.

1. What’s your biggest publicist pet peeve?

Sending pitches that don’t relate to anything that I do.

2. What gets your attention in a pitch?

When it’s clearly targeted to something I write about and quickly gets to the point. I write about honesty, integrity, ethics, trust, accountability and responsibility for Investor’s Business Daily. When a pitch identifies how it relates to those topics, it gets my eye.

3. What causes you to pull a book out of the stack?

When its title makes it sound like it would be interesting to me, or if the author is a name I recognize and like. If the book is arranged such that I can see the cover, that can grab my attention, too. But I’m usually more focused on the title and subtitle. If I’m looking for topics for future articles, I look for titles that deal with how to manage, lessons that executives have learned in their careers or ways that leaders have become successful. Those often include the traits that I write about in my columns.

4. What does it take for you to include an author in your Investor’s Business Daily column? Any specific themes or topics in their book, crucial elements of the author’s background, or timely context?

They need to show some expertise and interest in honesty, integrity, ethics, trust, accountability or responsibility. Those are the topics I write about for Investor’s Business Daily. Sometimes it’s one chapter or even just one section of a book. But if they discuss one of those topics in their book, they almost always have a level of interest in those matters and feel they’re important to a leader’s success. And those are topics most people are happy to discuss.

5. What’s the best business book you’ve read lately?

The Big Short by Michael Lewis. Great detail about how some people made money during the financial crisis, and how others could have seen it coming.

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