Ask the editorial director

I am quite often asked to do presentations to PR firms on the topic of media relations and one question keeps coming up: “”What is the most effective way to deal with an editor?””

There’s no good definitive answer to this simply because every editor deals with every PR person differently.

That

said, there are some ways to make our jobs easier.

1. Know the magazine. Seems self-evident, doesn’t it? But too many PR people still do their pitching based on names of editors and publications they see on a mailing list. For example, EDGE regularly gets pitched on products, but EDGE does not have a product section. Sometimes it gets silly. Although EDGE is aimed at senior business executives, I’ve been pitched on back-to-school ideas and Christmas gift guides.

2. Use e-mail before phone. E-mail offers two simple advantages: it gives you an instant record of a pitch or a conversation and lets us forward or file it. Phone calls almost always interrupt us and should be saved for things that are truly important, not just follow-up.

3. Maintaining a personal relationship. E-mail may be an editor’s best friend, but that said, it’s created a new problem. At risk of contradicting my previous point, some of us are beginning to lament the lack of a personal touch in this business. I’m sure we all have good business and professional contacts that we would like to maintain regular communications but may have not heard from in some time. I blame e-mail.

4. Two sentences long. Some of the best pitches I get are exactly two sentences long. These include the basic story idea, the name of contacts and/or sources, and a simple explanation about of why you think this idea should be of interest to our readers.

How about: “”Jane Smith, CIO, Acme Corp. of Toronto, Ont. has been able to achieve competitive advantage by using this technology to solve this business problem.””

This should not dissuade you, however, from providing ample background information such as technology briefings, company profiles or the basic press release but don’t let any of this clog up the basic story idea. I have seen pitches that run longer than the features we have in EDGE magazine. This does not make sense to me.

5. Be patient. There never has been or never will be any shortage of story ideas for us to act on. But due to mostly lower page counts for each of our issues these days, we do need to say “”no”” or “”please wait”” to some pretty decent story ideas. Your chances of seeing that story in print, by the way, increase if you can tie it into a feature report or an editorial theme.

6. Invite an editor. When we make a presentation to your staff at your offices, not only does it lead to a useful exchange of information, it can be a lot of fun. And it also works the other way. A five-minute overview of one of your clients can often be as useful as a complete, one-hour presentation.

7. Come to us. The simple fact that you coming to us to schedule a visit instead of us making a trip to see your client can save us hours of travel time. We routinely host vendors in our office and these sessions are good for building relationships and learning about the industry.

8. Press releases are still okay. Some editors may argue that press releases have lot their relevance in an age of instant communications, but I disagree. I still see the value in a well-crafted press release on company letterhead, contact information, a quote or two and some detail about a new product or strategy. Most press releases do not lead directly to a story, but they do inform the editor, can become excellent sources of background information and can come in handy later. I, for one, read or scan every press release I get.

9. Allow for individual preferences. This is a tricky one. As an editor, I seldom say yes to product demos or technology briefings, but I enjoy doing executive Q&As and looking for case studies. Ask another editor and they will say exactly the opposite. A good close look at our publication will tell you where our preferences lie.

10. Self-service, the new trend. Information about each publication, its mandate, target audience and feature schedules are all on the ITBusiness.ca Web site.

We’re taking this one step further. In September, we debuted this newsletter to keep you informed of special reports, new publications and supplements, events that we will be organizing and sponsoring, and major conferences or trade shows where our editors will be appearing.

Soon, you will also see our staff’s bios and more detailed overviews about each of our publications on our Web site.

In time, it’s not hard to imagine that most of your needs will be answered online. But don’t forget what I said earlier: personal contact is still good and don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

Martin Slofstra is the editorial director of the Transcontinental Media IT Business Group.

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