Pressing the Press: Meet Courtney Boyd Myers

By Sarah Borup (@SarahBorup)

As part of our ongoing “Pressing the Press” series the SHIFT team speaks with reporters, bloggers and media members to get the inside scoop on upcoming editorial trends, what they like (and dislike) about working with PR pros and, of course, some fun stuff.  This week we caught up with The Next Web‘s Courtney Boyd Myers (@CBM), who tells us about her roots in writing about finance and robots, a favorite story she’s worked on and surviving the 2010 Chilean Earthquake .

The Next Web is known for it’s international perspective on Internet tech, business and culture.  Read on to see what this East Coast editor has to say about the global online pub.

How did you get into journalism? (And please do tell us about your fascination with robots)

I’ve wanted to be a writer my whole life. First it was just in diaries, then it was poetry, essays on English and African American lit, twisted fiction, philosophy, and finally Forbes started paying me to write about finance and very rich people. After the economy crashed, it became too depressing to do so. That’s when I started writing about robots. I wrote about robots for Forbes, PCMag, IEEE Spectrum, PSFK, Pocket-Lint, The Faster Times and The Huffington Post. Now, I’m a writer for The Next Web, which is based in Amsterdam, and I’m their girl on the ground in New York City. Actually, I’m their girl on the ground for all of the East Coast. 

As the East Coast editor at The Next Web, what are your main responsibilities?

First and foremost, my job is to unleash the awesomeness of New York City’s startup ventures upon our readers. So, I cover local startups, but I also cover a lot of other things tech related like the Silicon Valley giants – Facebook, Twitter and Google. It’s a lean team so we try to help each other out as much as possible. Secondly, my job is to spread The Next Web love in the U.S.

What was one of your favorite stories that you’ve worked on?

After spending a few weeks in London, I wrote a story called “Cheers to London’s Tech Scene.” That was so fun because I had a short amount of time to just dive into the scene, figure out as much as I could, come up for air and write it all out. Any story that involves traveling is the best. As a journalist it’s our job to just keep building up our perspective on life. And for me, there’s no better way to do that than travel.

What do you want PR professionals to know?

We’re human! You are too! Let’s act like it. So no more slash and burn PR email blasts please!

There’s a LOT of noise on the Internet. Help cut it down by making sure you send us targeted pitches. Read what we write, check out recent tweets, stuff like that. 

What are your main “pet peeves” when working with PR people?

-Buzzwords in emails with words like THIRD ATTEMPT, REVOLUTIONARY, CUSTOMIZED and CURATED PERSONALIZATION. These are buzzwords and it’s inhuman. 

-Pitching me stories I’ve already written.

-Sending me emails addressed to either no one or someone else. 

What are your hobbies and interests when you’re not at work?

 I’m a die-hard yogi. I try to hit up the yoga studio or jog at the track every day. When I jog I use the RunKeeper app.

I love food! Especially fish and vegetables. And wine, of course.

I also really love my family- I have the best mom, dad and brother in the world.

What topics are going to be hot at The Next Web in early 2012?

Good question! Google+ will certainly be a growing beast. I think Apple without Steve Jobs will too. In terms of local news, I think we’ll see a lot of shake up in the startup world. A lot of companies will struggle to get past the first rounds they raised this year. I think we’ll see a lot of companies go under, but we’ll have less fragmentation as a result and hopefully more innovation. I also think online advertising is going to blow up. Take that as you will. 

Fun fact: your Google profile says you’re a survivor of the 2010 Chilean Earthquake and The Next Web Conference 2011.  Could you tell us a bit more about the conference (and the earthquake, of course)?

The Next Web Conference is in Amsterdam every April. It was such a special experience because it was the first time I met many of my coworkers. We worked really hard for 3 days and had outstanding speakers like Amazon’s Werner Vogels and great performers like iPad DJ Rana June. The conference ends on Queen’s Day, which is like the 4th of July for the Dutch. Everyone wears orange, rides around in their boats on the canal and parties all day. 

The Earthquake?! It was the last Friday of the Chilean summer and we were kicking it on the beach in Vina Del Mar.  At about 3:00 AM, I awoke like James Bond, adrenaline pumping through my veins. My bed was shaking and didn’t stop for two whole minutes that felt like twenty. I heard windows shatter outside. After a moment of calm, another terrifying quake erupted, walls shook, beer cans rolled across the floor, and then in half of the time as the first, it subsided.

The 8.8 magnitude earthquake that could be felt a country away in Buenos Aires, Argentina devastated Chile, particularly Concepcion, the epicenter of the quake and the second biggest city in Chile. 

Just a few hours after the quake, the first aftershock began, lasting only about 20 seconds but more nauseating than the quake itself because with each tremor, we didn’t know if it was going to start all over again or not. Tsunami warnings were issued for Peru and Chile. And as the quake spread west, Australia, Japan, northwest California and Hawaii were all issued tsunami warnings as well.

We paid a local Chilean to drive us inland to Santiago. We knew the earthquake had devastated Santiago too, with several hundred deaths reported, but we needed more travel options to get out of Chile. Tremors continued for days. We didn’t sleep. After two days, we were able to hop on a bus back to Argentina (where I was living at the time). I had never been so happy to cross a foreign border!

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