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Jun 07, 2002
Interview

How to Be Featured in InformationWeek

SUMMARY: Close to half a million corporate IT decision makers read Informationweek magazine.  Now, in our exclusive interview with its Editor Stephanie Stahl, you will learn how to pitch a story to her team (and what will not work).
Profile #5 in Our Continuing Series on High Tech Journalists

Stephanie Stahl
Editor
InformationWeek
600 Community Drive.
Manhasset, NY 11030
http://www.informationweek.com

PH: 516.562.5662
sstahl@cmp.com

-> Circulation as of 5/02:

Print magazine has a controlled circulation of 440,000 (i.e. no one pays. They qualify via survey as the magazine’s target readership). Daily email newsletter has 200,000 opt-ins. Website averages 2.5 million page views per month.

-> Stahl’s background:

Stahl's editorial career began way back in grade school when her teacher asked her to edit the school’s one-page ‘newspaper.’ Later while getting her BA in Journalism from Virginia Tech, Stahl moonlit as a stringer for a daily newspaper in Richmond, VA.

After graduation, she worked as a writer and editor for high-tech newsletter publisher Data Trends Publishing. Then, in 1992 InformationWeek hired Stahl as an Associate Editor. Stahl worked her way up the masthead until 1999 when she became Editor.

Stahl admits that even though she never studied technology, she always found it interesting and is still excited about the next story. “There is always something to write about,” Stahl says. “Innovation in business and technology is fascinating and we find that innovation and how technology helps solve business problems. Being part of this team has always been a challenge, but again it’s always exciting, even in this economy.”

-> Current editorial coverage:

According to Stahl, InformationWeek is for business technology decision makers, primarily the people responsible for the IT budget. This includes everyone from the head of marketing to CIOs and CFOs. She also says a large number of her readers are technology implementers and developers.

Stahl takes great pride in the fact that InformationWeek spends a lot of time researching its readership so the team can “craft coverage around that.”

“We are not just writing about the latest trend or buzz,” Stahl says. “We are not just focused on a CIO or big companies. If you read the magazine you will see we package everything in a comprehensive manner. It's hard to say what we are going to have on our cover. We are not predictable, but we will run the most relevant story for our readership.”

“We won’t just profile a technology, you can go to the vendor’s website for that,” Stahl says. “We don’t cover a product unless we talk to a customer. We owe it to our readership to show how it’s used.”

InformationWeek also has a fair amount of economic and financial coverage, like venture capital financing or indicators on tech spending.

-> What Stahl looks for in a story pitch:

Stahl will give you extra attention if you provide customer examples and interesting case study material. Anyone in PR should also make sure to tell Stahl what makes the product unique, be it pricing or “a cool technical aspect.” You should also know the intent of the product. Above all, know her audience.

Even if you do not know her publication or staff that well, you should not be too worried. Stahl is somewhat of a rare breed of editor and will usually try to steer you in the right direction, rather than hang up on you. On most occasions, she will even try to explain to why she does not want a story.

Stahl and her editorial team also spend time throughout the year traveling to PR firms as a form of community outreach. “We’ll set up a visit at their offices to explain our readership to them, the way we cover a story, and the best ways to contact us,” Stahl says. “We also give them detailed lists of our reporters and a list of upcoming events we are hosting.”

Stahl prefers email but is “not against the phone.” She does suggest that you avoid subject lines [in email] that actually say ‘press release.’ More importantly, Stahl says, “get to the point early, tell me why this story is important to our readers.”

Special features and research for the print publication are found in the editorial calendar at: http://www.informationweek.com/edcal/2002/default.html

-> Deadlines:

Print magazine work is mainly finished on Thursday evenings, so any time before that is best to contact Stahl or her staff.

Informationweek's daily email newsletter features one or two paragraph stories, usually a roundup of the day’s hot news posted on the site. It is sent every business night between 5 P.M. and 7 P.M. EST, so if you have hot news be sure to contact Stahl or her staff in a reasonable amount of time before then.

-> Submitting pre-written contributions:

Do not bother. Practically all content is produced by staff writers or assigned freelancers.

-> Becoming a regular columnist:

Stahl explains that, “We have some phenomenal columnists, but we are always open to new ones. We would need a proposal, and you should know the magazine and our readers.” In general InformationWeek has a fair amount of columns in the pipeline and usually runs 1-2 a week.

-> Where you can meet Stahl:

In addition to InformationWeek-hosted events, Stahl is usually found at user group conferences such as ones hosted by SAP, Oracle, or IBM.

-> What does Stahl prefer to see in a press kit:

For Stahl, a well-crafted, one-page email is better than a press kit any day.

--> What Stahl looks for in an online pressroom:

Stahl wants to see details about a featured technology, solid background information about the company, details about the health of a company, and details about who has used the technology.

You should also list the right contact information as well as all of the principals involved. Most of all, Stahl says, “simplicity is key.”

-> Stahl’s favorite business publications:

Wall Street Journal (she reads it “religiously” but usually online from home) and Fortune.
See Also:

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