Journo intel: Tom Wilson, senior energy correspondent at the Financial Times, on nuclear fusion, being genuine, two hour deadlines and the impact of the war in Ukraine
As the senior energy correspondent at the Financial Times, Tom Wilson is an ideal person to talk to if you’re involved in climate or energy PR. His global experience and contacts within the paper make him a fount of knowledge, and our media relations team recently got the latest from him on writing about energy, his colleagues, and what makes the perfect pitch.
Who are Tom’s readers?
Tom says that the people who come to the FT for energy coverage are “curious, informed, and educated”. They’re people who are generally well informed and want to dive a little deeper on energy – Tom says his writing acts as an entry point.
Who should energy PR people know at the FT?
Tom Wilson is the senior energy correspondent and works mostly on the corporate side, focusing on businesses such as Shell and BP, as well as covering developments in nuclear fusion. However, the FT has a large team dedicated to energy, and Tom suggests that PR people find the ideal member of the team to contact with their pitch.
The names to know are:
David Sheppard, energy editor, who focuses on the market and price side of energy.
Nathalie Thomas, energy correspondent, who writes about the UK energy market. While Tom writes about the sector’s corporate giants, pitches about smaller, UK-based companies would be better directed to Nathalie. She has a particular interest in nuclear power.
Derek Brower, US energy editor, who writes the FT newsletter Energy Source.
Myles McCormick, US energy correspondent.
Justin Jacobs, Houston correspondent, covering energy and Texas.
Specific energy-adjacent stories may also go to members of the team with other primary focuses. Tom lists:
Neil Hume, natural resources editor, who focuses on metals and mining.
Emiko Terazono, commodities correspondent, who covers soft commodities and food security.
Matthew Vincent, editor of FT Project Publishing, who writes about investment for the FT Wealth magazine.
Tom and his team are part of the energy sector team, but he says that they work closely with their colleagues at Climate Capital. The people to know here include:
Emiliya Mychasuk, climate editor.
Leslie Hook, environment and clean energy correspondent, who reports from London on carbon, the environment and renewables. She covers topics like carbon capture and storage, but not “big global” clean energy. Leslie has covered our client, ABB in the past.
Camilla Hodgson, climate reporter.
How should PR people pitch the FT?
Tom says that the team are happy with emails and calls, as well as follow ups. He recommends an in-person meeting first to establish a relationship and says that this boosts your chances of your pitch getting the team’s attention.
In Tom’s opinion, a good intro meeting isn’t pure business – he recommends that PR people open with a conversation about something that they’re genuinely interested in rather than launching straight into their clients. This, he suggests, shows that you care about the sector and are looking to build a relationship rather than simply shovel coverage for a client.
To get into the paper, Tom says that it’s best to get in contact before 10am, although anything that comes through up to around 2pm could be accepted. If you’re aiming for the Monday morning paper, he says you should be in communication with the team latest Thursday morning.
With pitches, Tom recommends framing it around the consequences of the news for the world and the sector, how the business is achieving their goal, and why this development is happening now. This context, he adds, is particularly important when working with smaller clients – those with a value lower than £25 million, by his definition. The FT values metrics, so they’re always open to speaking with economic analysts.
He says that the best time for a PR to reach out is in the wake of a breaking story. In these cases, the writer has around two hours to file their write-up, and they’ll be checking their emails regularly to see if there’s a quote they can use or someone to quickly talk to for some insights. These are prime opportunities for PR teams, but they need to be on their toes due to the tight turnaround.
What topics are getting covered at the moment?
These days, the ripple effects on the energy sector from the war in Ukraine are leading the FT’s energy coverage. Due to the war, the FT is talking less about sustainability and climate change, but this slowdown is expected to be temporary.
Tom says that hydrogen is a major topic in the energy sector. The FT recently held a hydrogen conference, and Tom is eager to find out whether any businesses are spending “real” money – read: billions – on H2 technology. He’s interested in any business that is bringing down the cost of green hydrogen, but notes that there’s definitely reader fatigue on the topic at the moment.
An up-and-coming topic is the relationship between energy and technology. Tom notes that the data centres that are responsible for our digital world are energy intensive, accounting for around 15% of global energy consumption. He says that angles involving powering these data centres with clean energy or addressing their e-waste problem might get his attention.
Another perennial topic is nuclear fusion – one of Tom’s specialities. His coverage of the topic gets a lot of clicks, which he thinks has to do with the tech’s interesting history and feeling of science-fiction becoming reality.
If you’re looking for an energy PR team who understands what interests the associated media, you’re in the right place. Contact us today find out more.
Written by: Katie Chodosh, Media Relations Director at Definition.