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Jun 04, 2004

PR Interview: How to Be Mentioned in Business Finance Magazine

SUMMARY: 50,000 CFOs and top financial execs in corporate America (mainly the Fortune 500) read Business Finance Magazine every month. Want to influence them? We interviewed Managing Editor Meg Waters to find out what PR people should know before you pitch her team. (For example: job changer releases get tossed automatically.)
Meg Waters, Managing Editor
Business Finance Magazine
P.O. Box 3438
Loveland, CO 80539

-> Reach

50,000 circulation

-> Waters' background

Waters and her husband moved to Colorado from Florida, where she worked for an association publication. "We grew up in Houston, and when we moved to Florida, we didn't like the climate," she says.

When they decided to move, they targeted Colorado and northern New Mexico, and Waters landed a job at another Duke magazine, Windows NT. She moved into Business Finance five years ago.

Waters enjoys editing and the fast-paced nature of the job. "On top of that, I find the subject matter of business finance really interesting," she says. "Some people wouldn’t, but I do. I double majored in English and Economics. It definitely seemed like a great fit when the job opened."

-> Current editorial coverage

The monthly magazine, published by Penton Media, targets finance executives at Fortune 500 companies. "Readers are mostly high-level finance titles at companies of over $100 million in revenue," Waters says. "Stories are about the things they deal with."

Topics of coverage include audit and corporate governance, accounting, financial reporting, cash management, financing, and business performance management software.

In the last few years, "Coverage has shifted because of the economic downturn and because of the accounting scandals," Waters says. Today, the magazine's content covers more on new legislation and less on M&A strategy.

Most of the coverage is on trends, though there is a section called Upfront which is the only section that's at all news oriented, says Waters.

"I get a lot of announcements about people being promoted or moving to a new company. We don't cover that. And we don't cover one company acquiring another."

-> Best way to pitch Business Finance

The best way to get included in a feature story is to contact the authors when they're working on a story.

"Our authors determine who's quoted in their stories and who isn't," Waters explains. "As they talk to corporate sources and analysts, they decide what kind of subject matter they need."

To help the authors find the best sources, the magazine has developed a line-up page online. Here's how it works:

The page has a list of articles that have been assigned. Each article has a description plus a link to email the person writing the story.

Once the story is finished and is in production, the description will stay on the site but the link to the author is taken out. "That means the story is finished and the author doesn't need any more sources," she says.

Monitor the list regularly and pitch accordingly:

If you have a story idea to suggest, you can email it to Waters and she'll pass it along to the Editor in Chief, Laurie Brannen. But it's not likely to result in a story. "Generally, she and our contributing editors come up with story ideas jointly," Waters explains.

You can also email Brannen directly:

If Brannen doesn't respond, she's not interested. You can send a second email to be sure she got the first one. "But if she doesn't respond to that, drop it," Waters says. "That's a pet peeve of mine. Please don't harass us."

On the other hand, you can feel free to contact Waters directly at any time. "I'm not the direct contact, but I'm a conduit to the writers and to Laurie," she says.

-> Other pet peeves

Waters gets annoyed with people who clearly have not even looked at the magazine, who send pitches, and who then "follow up and follow up. We don’t cover personal finance, we don't cover personal wealth. When I get those pitches, it's clear they haven't spent any time looking through our magazine."

When she gets announcements of people moving into new positions or mergers of consulting firms, she generally just trashes them.

-> Pre-written contributions

They don't accept them. All stories are assigned by Brannen to the professional journalists who each cover a particular beat. "If I get a pitch that's a pre-written bylined contribution, I'll respond and ask if they're interested in being a source and let them know about the Web page they can monitor," Waters says.

-> Becoming a regular columnist

They do look for regular columnists every now and then, says Waters. Send a resume and sample clips to Brannen. Right now, because the folio has shrunk in the last couple of years, the areas they used to cover regularly don't get as much coverage.

"As we start growing in the next couple of years, we might be expanding, and would be more likely to be looking for new authors," she says.

-> Deadlines

Stories are due two months prior to the issue date, and are assigned around the second week of the previous month. That gives you a window of about three weeks to be in touch with the author.

-> Where you can meet the editors

Brannen and some of the contributors go to the annual Risk and Insurance Management Society conference (RIMS) coming up in June. They also attend the Association for Financial Professionals and the American Payroll Association conferences.

As for meeting Brannen in her office, she works out of her home in California, and "probably would not be open to getting together for lunch," says Waters.

-> Favorite professional publication

The Wall Street Journal
See Also:

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