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May 17, 2002

How to Get Featured in Catalog Age Magazine

SUMMARY: Executives at every single one of America's top 100 catalog companies (LL Bean, Omaha Steaks, Sharper Image, you name it) all read Catalog Age magazine avidly.  Want to be covered in it as an expert, or useful new technology?  Check out our interview with Editorial Director Sherry Chiger.
Profile #21 in Our Continuing Series on Marketing Journalists

Sherry Chiger
Editorial Director
Catalog Age magazine
P.O. Box 4242
Stamford, CT 06907-0242
PH: 203.358.4386
Fax: 203.358.5823

-> Circulation as of 5/02:

14,500 subscribers for the print publication, 900 of which pay $74 per year. The rest is a “controlled circulation.” The weekly email newsletter has around 5,000 opt-in subscribers.

Executives at every single one of America's 100 largest catalog companies have subscriptions. Catalog Age’s readers are primarily (very) high-level decision makers such as CEOs, most of whom are heavily involved in their company's online presence.

-> Chiger’s background:

After graduating from Temple University with a Journalism degree Chiger moved to Boston to work as a proofreader for “a company that published television guides.” She also wrote some celebrity profiles, and got into interview stars including Jonathan Winters and Richard Price. Since TV guides were not really her main interest, Chiger moved to NYC and worked in copy production at Vogue and YM Magazine.

Chiger soon realized that it was “hard to move up” at the consumer magazines, so in the early 90s she made the switch to B2B trades. Her first job in this field was as managing editor for American Salon (still an element of glamour there!). Then, in 1995 she joined Catalog Ages as features editor.

Although after promotions, Chiger has been Catalog Age's Editorial Director for two years, fashion is still in her blood. She occasionally contributes freelance articles “to various beauty magazines.”

“I do like this [catalog] industry a lot,” Chiger says. “It’s marketing that I like [to cover] best, but it’s also about creative and merchandising and postal regulations. There are a lot of different components to it so if you look at it you can always find something that interests you.”

-> Current editorial coverage:

The editorial mix is “half service-oriented and half news” geared towards informing and helping catalog industry leaders make strategic and marketing decisions.

“We have lots of departments that focus on various aspects of the cataloging business, lists and prospecting, how-to articles, strategies, service articles about production, operation, and email,” says Chiger. The magazine’s news stories tend to be about mergers and acquisitions, customer database management, and postal regulation issues.

Chiger says the magazine does cover technology, but these stories are more about “who is using it and how a company has saved money by using it. We will also say that it may not work for your company and here are some alternatives.”

A typical Catalog Age cover story is a perspective on activity affecting the industry, such how a dozen catalogers will make changes to compensate for rising postal costs.

-> What Chiger looks for in a story pitch:

The bottom line when pitching Chiger is that it has to be truly exclusive to Catalog Age and targeted directly to its readers.

“We talk to catalogers, period. I don’t want to hear about what your product can do. I want to know what it does for catalogers,” says Chiger.

You can pitch via email or fax. However, Chiger says, “Don’t call me after you sent it asking if I got it. Even if it’s the best thing in the world I usually won’t want to call back if they call me right after they sent the pitch.” Going even further, Chiger stresses, “Don’t call me, really. I don’t have time. If you pitch me something by phone I will want you to send me something anyway.”

-> Deadlines:

The print magazine comes out 13 times a year, but the website that is updated every day with hot news. An email newsletter also goes out at the end of the week, containing a roundup of the news that appeared on the site that week or coverage of relevant trade shows.

The print issue closes its editorial doors three weeks before the issue date, so if you have news or a feature idea for an upcoming issue you should contact Chiger or the editorial staff 6-8 weeks prior to the next issue. Your best bet is to read the magazine’s editorial calendar

The website tends to feature “really hot news,” and it is updated at various times during the day. A word of advice: If you do have news for the website “don’t call late in the day [after 5pm EST] and expect something to be covered,” says Chiger.

-> Submitting pre-written contributions:

“We have some good stuff, some of these writers have become regular contributors,” Chiger says. “But again, it has to be exclusive to us and it has to be relevant to our audience.”

-> Becoming a regular columnist:

Catalog Age has a few columnists who are industry experts and consultants, but right now Chiger is not looking for any others.

-> Where you can meet Chiger:

Chiger usually attends the annual catalog conference which the publication co-produces with the Direct Marketing Association, as well as the DMA’s own annual conference in the fall. She sometimes makes it to the DM Days conference as well as the New England Mail Order Association conference, but she admits, “I don’t really get out that often.”

You can always contact Chiger if you are in New York City or the Stamford, CT area and have something important to share with her. She warns that “if it’s just to show me a new thing I won’t have time; have some purpose, please. If you work directly with catalogers I do want to meet you.”

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

Give Chiger a fact sheet telling her what the company is and what it does “in language that's as jargon-free as possible.”

Include some indication as to why catalogers should care about the product or service being touted. If the kit includes any mention of at least one cataloger that has used the product or service then Chiger may even want to do a case study.

Avoid sending her any tchotckes.

--> What Chiger looks for in an online press room:

In all honesty, the only times Chiger visits online press rooms is to ascertain whether a company would make a good source for a story; usually for an article that she has assigned to a freelancer. Include the correct press contact name, number, and an e-mail address. A brief summary of what the company does and a listing of its clients is also helpful.

Chiger does have one, personal peeve: “Super-fancy pages that require plug-ins for me to access them. I work on an aging, temperamental computer that doesn't always take kindly to plug-ins.” (i.e. no Flash.)

-> Chiger’s favorite business publications:

Wall Street Journal, Business Week, The Daily Deal (online), and (she admits) The New York Post (online).
See Also:

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