For our latest media Q&A, we interviewed Sal Rodriguez, enterprise reporter at Reuters, about how he got into journalism and the best way to work with him if you’re a PR person. Prior to joining Reuters, Sal wrote for the LA Times, International Business Times, and most recently, Inc. Check it out and if you have any comments, leave them on our Facebook page.

Q. Why did you decide to become a journalist?

I wanted to work for ESPN so in high school I Googled how I could get a job there and Google said I should work for my school paper. So I did that and I fell in love with every facet of journalism – writing, reporting, interviewing designing, editing, copying editing, story idea brainstorming – I just fell in love with all of it. Then in college, I saw the impact that journalism can have on communities, and it was a done deal from there.

Q. What’s your favorite part about being a reporter?

You get to meet some really interesting people and pick their brains. You have a free pass to ask people all sorts of questions just by the nature of the job. There’s never a boring or uninteresting day.

Q. What about your favorite memory from your time as a journalist?

There’s so many to choose from but the one that’s currently sticks out from the last year is: I was at an event hosted by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. It was one of these things where Mark Zuckerberg is trying to give back and one of the folks there was Bill Gates who is one of Mark’s mentors. He’s the poster child of tech philanthropy. After the event ended, I knew Bill Gates was there so I ran over and asked him a question. It wasn’t even that good of a question – he kind of scolded me in his answer and then gave me a good answer. I spent less than five minutes with him but he took the time to talk to me and he gave me a good answer. I was able to put in a story. Editors are never going to be unhappy if you get an exclusive quote from Bill Gates. On top of that one of my friends in journalism got a picture of us talking so I was able to publish that.

Q. You deal with PR people every day. What bothers you most about them?

I don’t like the PR people who it’s so obvious they haven’t done their homework. It’s just a paycheck to them. They’re dealing with journalists who – if you’re a journalist – you’re generally not in it for the money. You could be doing all sorts of other things for money. For people in journalism it’s a passion profession so if you’re just showing up to pitch me stuff because you’re paid to pitch, it’s insulting to me and you’re wasting your client’s money. If you’re just shooting out random emails to whoever, you’re doing your client a disservice. I still get pitches for things I used to cover at Inc. to my Reuters email address and they say things like “I thought this would be a good fit for you at Inc.” Good job, you did the bare minimum and found my current email address.

Q. When PR people are pitching you, what tips would you give them to make their pitches better?

I prefer when a PR person takes time to build a relationship and then after that we start doing more pitching and hitting each other up. The PR people who are willing to go to events after hours or reach out for a random cup of coffee without any intention of pitching or just random banter on Twitter. They’re actually trying to build a relationship, not just cold call you or cold pitch you. Those are the folks I really appreciate because I can get to know them as a person. Then when they actually send me something, I’m more prone to read it and give it a thorough consideration.

Q. When it comes to interviews, what makes for a good spokesperson?

I like folks willing to talk about topics that the journalist is interested in, not just what their latest feature is, and if they can get a little unscripted. Those are the ones that I definitely appreciate. The ones who understand how journalism works and why it’s worth the time to chat with us. For example, I just got done chatting with this CEO and we were just talking about all sorts of issues in the tech industry and it wasn’t until the end of the interview, almost a foot note, where we talked about the latest with his company. So that’s always helpful for us. The other thing that’s of value to me are executives willing to talk off the record or on background and keep me in the loop. That might not get them into an article, but at the very least, if you talk to me off the record, it’ll keep our relationship fresh. Then the next time you have something to tell me, we’re still in good standing and I’ll probably pick up the phone as well.

Q. Ok, let’s end with a fun fact…

I have all the Super Bowls memorized in chronological order but I think that’s more well-known because I had it in a few of my bios. I know all the Super Bowl winners with 95 percent accuracy minimum, usually it’s 100 percent. I also know all the James Bond movies in order but that’s more like 90 percent, and all the locations of the World Cups and winners of the World Cup at 90 percent accuracy as well.