Takeaways from a Conversation with Cipher News’ Cat Clifford

In a space as dynamic as climate tech, new innovations are coming to the forefront seemingly every day, and the news cycle is unrelenting. With so much happening and not enough reporters to cover it all, getting the attention of the industry’s top journalists can be a daunting challenge. Recently, V2 had the opportunity to sit down with one of those top journalists, Cat Clifford, a senior science and economics correspondent at the climate technology publication Cipher News. We asked her about her workflow, how she decides what to cover, and her preferences for working with communications teams.

Focusing on the Science First

As a self-described science nerd, Cat emphasizes understanding the science behind any technological solution as the first step when digging into a story. If she can’t understand the science, she reasons, she can’t explain it to the reader. Once that’s established, Cat says, she can move on to other important issues behind the implementation of climate tech solutions, like economic viability and potential for scale. Still, all of that is supported by the underlying science.

Being a Sponge

The foundation of Cat’s journalistic process is soaking in as much information as she can — continuously. She says she tries to read everything that comes across her inbox, even if she doesn’t respond. Having a sense of what’s going on in the space informs her perspective and allows her to choose what she writes based on a combination of “homework and instinct.”

Since the Cipher team isn’t focused on breaking news, Cat says, she’s more able to plan out stories in advance and create a long pipeline. Reading about what’s happening helps to inform that pipeline and helps Cat make “newsworthy judgments.” While she likely won’t cover funding news, for example, she still likes to receive the information.

Tips for Comms Professionals

With so much content to digest and write, getting Cat’s attention for your story isn’t easy. Here are some tips she says will help get on her radar:

  • Pitch people: People love reading about people, so pitch stories about an interesting person at the helm of an innovation. Cat also says she likes to hear directly from the scientists or engineers working on the next big thing, so don’t be shy if you’re that person. Reach out.
    • Keep it short, but mostly, keep it interesting: The length and format of an email are less important than the content, Cat says. She’s not likely to read something that’s overly long, but the most important thing to consider is making the pitch compelling and ensuring the person or news item is relevant.
      • Stick to email: Calls can interrupt the flow of the day, so pitch via email so that Cat can turn back to your message when it’s convenient.

      To get Cipher’s newsletter in your inbox, subscribe here, but don’t miss the great content on the Cipher website, including Explainers, Voices, and the Cleantech Tracker. Two of Cat’s most recent Explainers include:


May 10, 2024


By Melissa Mahoney


Climate Tech