Ask the editorial director: How can I get my pitches in?

One of the more difficult aspects of our jobs is that we get more good pitches and inquiries than we can possibly use.

I say ‘good’ because most PR people do understand what we are looking for, whether it’s a glimpse at a new technology, an interesting case study or a knack

for suggesting a fresh angle to a tired topic.

We also get tons of experts and consultants who want to write for us, who have the technical expertise we sometimes lack.

It almost goes without saying, it really is impossible to accommodate it all.

The problem though is not so much the number of inquiries we get. In some ways, the more the better — we want to be as comprehensive and all-inclusive as possible. Please do feel free to contact us anytime.

We do, however, deal with too many people where the expectation of coverage may be too high, or we are given a lot more information than we will ever need.

One problem:  PR people who assume we will want to craft an entire story around a single announcement, a single idea, or a single customer reference.

The other problem:  Experts and consultants who just assume it’s as simple as placing a canned article in our pages. Yes, they do have something to say, but then want the space for 1,500 words to say it.

(As a general rule, we don’t accept contributed articles any more.)

How about this for an alternative: Have you ever thought about how a few good quotes can lift a story?

Not often enough do we get offers for a quick hit interview offered at exactly the right time when a big news story breaks, or that can tucks nicely a broad industry topic such as security or convergence.

When three of Canada’s major banks were affected by computer glitches last summer, some very resourceful PR people were on the phone giving us the phone numbers of experts we could contact. In this case, all that was needed was five minutes and a quick turnaround, and the result was a small effort with a high pay-off.

Similarly, if you are the expert, think about fresh angles and perspectives, and be provocative. You are much more useful to us if you are quoted than if you write for us. And besides, would you rather not be included in a well-crafted feature read by lots of people than in an extended piece read only by a fraction of our audience?

At EDGE, it may be also because we are pandering to short attention spans or because we keep hearing our readers are starved for time. But more than ever, we are breaking away from longer stories about a single technology, or, that quote a single expert at length. We are also doing less in-depth case studies and looking to survey groups of end-users instead.

This is especially true for our features but also applies to our short, one-page articles as well (about 500 words). The best stories, regardless of length, are the ones with the most sources.

Instead of trying to give us the full story, just offer us a slice.

mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

Martin Slofstra is the editorial director of the Transcontinental Media IT Business Group and the editor of EDGE

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