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Apr 26, 2002

FAME: How to Get Your Story in Direct Magazine

SUMMARY: More than 43,000 direct response marketers (many of them from famous name brand companies) read Direct Magazine every month. In our exclusive interview with Editorial Director Ray Schultz, he explains the best way to pitch your story to his staff.† Plus, you will also learn about getting mentioned in Direct's daily email newsletter that more than 10,000 marketers receive.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Back when we started publishing these profiles in late fall 2001, it made sense to ask what gifts journalists liked because the holiday season was coming up. Since then, in profile after profile, journalists have revealed they do not much like gifts, cards or tchotchkes. These items certainly never affect their coverage.

So starting with this week's profile, we have replaced the "gifts" question with two, more useful, questions -- what do you want from a printed press kit and what do you want in an online press kit?


Anne Holland,
Publisher, MarketingFAME

Profile # 20 in Our Continuing Series on Marketing Journalists

Ray Schultz
Editorial Director
Direct magazine
249 W17th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10011
PH: 212.462.3371

-> Circulation as of 4/02:

43,521. Approximately 400 pay $86.28 per year, the rest get the publication for free for qualifying as the magazineís target audience. Direct Newsline, the publicationís daily email newsletter, has 11,885 free opt-in subscribers.

-> Schultzís background:

Schulz wrote for his high-school paper then joined the Navy where he was also a journalist for them. There, he mostly covered "Navy stuff." After leaving the Navy in the 1960s he returned home to New York and wrote for an underground newspaper, as well as the NY Times and National Lampoon.

Schultz admits he never saw himself "as a direct marketing reporter" until he answered a freelance reporter ad for DM News. He stayed there for 12 years, eight of which he served as the Managing Editor. In 1994, the Editor of Direct magazine offered Schultz a position as a writer. Schultz became Editorial Director not long after. He is also working on a yet to be titled book on the history of direct marketing.

"The field has changed a lot," Schultz laments. "It used to be more entrepreneurial, which I loved. There were some lawsuits and I covered legal cases since I had a police beat in the past. I got to know a lot of people and it had an anarchic energy that eventually moved to the Internet."

Despite its move to the mainstream corporate world, Schultz still loves direct marketing. He says, "Itís a great beat for a reporter, it encompasses so many things. I also think itís interesting how far ahead of the rest of advertising it is."

-> Current editorial coverage:

Direct magazineís readers are CEOs, VPs, directors and managers. According to the magazineís own surveys, readers are involved in the purchase of a variety of direct marketing products and services including e-commerce, lists, database marketing, and email marketing.

Schultz says the publication tries to "follow the money, from who is mailing what, what is being spent, and what kinds of responses they get. Ultimately we try to cover direct marketing as a business."

The print magazine has some Ďhow toí features, and also includes lawsuits and controversies. Except for some routine (postal) mail announcements, Schultz says, "we donít really write up press releases. They can be the genesis of a story, but we canít compete with the weeklies. We like to write things that have not been seen before."

However Direct's emailed daily Newsline typically features breaking news stories, such as job changers and new campaign launches.

-> What Schultz looks for in a story pitch:

"Exclusivity. Something that is substantive or even controversial," Schultz says, adding "Something I can chew on. Really work with me otherwise I wonít talk to you. I get telemarketed to death and that doesnít work. And please donít waste our time by asking us to place your press release in our magazine."

He stresses, "We want exclusives, and lots of case studies no one has done." An example, "We have a big story on a new continuity program started by a major publisher. We like big campaign stories like that. If a PR person or vendor can set us up with a client and we can get in there to get the nuts and bolts of the campaign we want it."

Schultz recalls a positive example of a good pitch where a PR firm wanted him to cover a specific vendor technology. Rather than just talking up the technology, the firm pitched Schultz on a bank that started a direct mail program using the technology. They also gave him every contact he needed.

"Anytime someone can set me or a staff member up with contacts, that is best," Schultz says. "We have several beats so someone will get to it if itís a good story and it is relevant.."

Schultz prefers email. He does not look at faxes that often anymore, and only call him if it is substantive. As for mail, Schultz says, "unless there are indictment papers [regarding a relevant company the magazine covers] donít send any." Above all, "know the magazine before you do anything."

-> Deadlines:

Direct magazine comes out 16 times a year. There are deadlines every week, so if you want a story in the magazine call or email Schultz.

If the story is 'really hot' it can go in the daily email, which is delivered every night at around 7 or 8 pm EST. "If you need to call at 6pm and it is really that pressing, weíll do it, but earlier is better," Schultz says.

Feel free to check out the magazineís editorial calendar for features and special editions

-> Submitting pre-written contributions:

Schultz takes them, but not many. He wants them to be substantive, educational, new and meaningful. He admits it is "hard to find someone to intelligently discuss database marketing and write it well."

-> Becoming a regular columnist:

Although Direct magazine has a few high profile columnists, Schultz says it would be difficult to become a new one. It would have to be an urgent area the magazine does not already have as a column. "The ones we have are great writers so you would have to be a great writer, you can even be controversial," Schultz says. "Trade columnists can run out of steam and start recycling. The ones we have are really sharp."

-> Where you can meet Schultz:

Schultz attends the big direct marketing shows, such as the Direct Marketing Association show in the fall and the upcoming DM Days conference. He also attends events that his publication co-produces with the DMA. You can also meet Schultz and his staff at his office, but "donít waste time with a two hour software demo," he says. "I like to work with sources but it has to be valuable to me. We can talk something through if itís not a story yet."

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

"I donít need to get a lot of junk," Schultz says. "Unless it has hot news in it, I donít look that carefully at them." If you do send Schultz a press kit, make sure it includes a list of contact names and phone numbers, as well as the various divisions of the company.

--> What Schultz looks for in an online press kit:

He does not really visit them, though much like press kits, he finds specific contact names and phone numbers very valuable.

-> Schultzís favorite business publications:

Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist, The Daily Deal.
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