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Jan 25, 2008
Interview

PR Interview: How to Pitch The Baltimore Sun

SUMMARY: The Baltimore Sun is Marylandís premier newspaper with a newly redesigned website offering plenty of interactive features. Many stories and columns run in sister publications, such as The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel. The Sunís consumer columnist/blogger shares tips on how to get your news mentioned.
Contact Information
Dan Thanh Dang
Columnist
The Baltimore Sun
501 N. Calvert St.
Baltimore, MD 21278
410-332-6171
dan(dot)thanh(dot)dang(at)baltsun.com
Blog: http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/business/consuminginterests
blog/

Columns: http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/columnists/bal-columni
t-dang,0,7799292.columnist


Background
A native of Vietnam, Dan Thanh Dang has been a reporter for The Sun since her 1990 internship there. Dang has covered everything from the police beat to government to energy and technology. She has been the newspaper's consumer reporter since 2004 and began writing the Consuming Interests column in 2006. She graduated from the University of Maryland journalism school in 1994.

Circulation & Readership
Print 2007 circulation, 232,138 daily; 377,561 Sunday.

Newspaper demographics: 53% female; 54% are married; 29% 18-34 years old; 40% 35-54 years old; 31% 55 and older; 30% are college graduates; 74% own homes; 48% have household income of $75,000+; and 12% work in management, business or financial operations.

Baltimoresun.com demographics: More than 1.2 million monthly visitors; 50.5% are male; 61.2% have a household income of $75,000 or more; 48.6% have a college degree; and 45.6% have households with children.

Latest monthly site traffic: total page views, 26.5 million; unique users, 2.5 million; and registered users, 538,652
Sources: BurellesLuce; February 2007 Reader Profile, ABC Report; The 2007 Scarborough Report; Omniture

Current Editorial Coverage
The business section features local, national and global business news, columns and information on personal finance, technology, investing, real estate and the stock market.

Website
Baltimoresun.com launched in 1996 as SunSpot.net and changed its name to baltimoresun.com in 2004. Besides the full daily editorial content of the newspaper, the site includes extensive archived and original content. Baltimoresun.com is divided into seven main sections: Maryland, Nation/World, Business, Sports, Lifestyle, Opinion and Marketplace.

Content from The Sun is updated at 4:30 a.m. each day. The site is updated with breaking news from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.

The site offers subscriptions to seven email newsletters with 114,000 subscribers. They include Morning Bell/Closing Bell, newsletters that concentrate on Baltimore-area businesses and the regional economy. Subscribe here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/services/bal-emailnewsletters,0
7880684.htmlstory


Besides offering Web 2.0 innovations, such as RSS feeds and a wireless edition, the site has plenty of interactive elements:

- 10 podcasts, including one on technology. Listen here:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/services/site/bal-podcasts,
,7218310.htmlstory


- News, Sports, Business and Entertainment blogs, including Consuming Interests, which can be accessed here:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bal-blogs,0,248780
.htmlstory?coll=bal_business_util


- Videos on business, news, sports, nation, world, election, entertainment, features, viral, health and the newspaper staff can be found here: http://www.baltimoresun.com/video/
In addition, readers can upload their own videos to share with site visitors.

- The website also offers a forum on various discussion topics, including Computers and Technology: http://www.baltimoresun2.com/talk/index.php

How to Pitch Dang
The Consuming Interests blog grew out of a bi-weekly column of the same name. It focuses on anything from bad business practices and personal finance news to shopping tips and helpful how-tos.

Pitch tips:

-> Tip #1. Read before you send
Dang suggests that you familiarize yourself with her work before you pitch her. It would help you get a feel for the tone and type of information she looks for. She tries to keep a fun, breezy tone that resembles a one-on-one conversation.

-> Tip #2. Send to Tuesday column or blog
Dang suggests pitching stories to the Tuesday column or to the blog; both allow much more room for different topics than the Sunday column does. If your pitch is about personal finance, e-mail eileen(dot)ambrose(at)baltsun(dot)com; Ambrose is a personal finance columnist who frequently assists Dang with the blog.

-> Tip #3. Email your pitch
Dang doesnít have time to listen to pitches by phone; it's best to email her. She can't respond to all of them; however, she does skim all emails, so tell her succinctly ďwhat you're all about.Ē Hint: Donít be afraid to experiment with the presentation of your news. ďIf you can do it in an amusing way, you're way ahead of the game.Ē

-> Tip #4. Pitch helpful information
The best way to grab Dangís attention is to focus on something that consumers would find helpful in everyday life. If you can answer a burning consumer question, you'll almost always catch her eye.

In your email, include all the information Dang would need or a website where she could find more information. Sometimes, she likes to interview someone for a blog post, so it would be smart to include the name and number of someone who can speak for your cause.

If your business or organization provides a useful service, product or aid to consumers, Dang might be interested. For example, the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Maryland & Delaware sends her useful tips on how financially-strapped consumers can get themselves out of debt and find help.

If your company does something to warn consumers of a scam or bad business practices, Dang has use for that type of information.

Unlike other columnists, Dang doesnít require pitches to have a local angle. ďAs long as you think it's useful consumer advice and information, or something amusing, interesting or quirky that consumers should know, you've got a chance.Ē

Pitch product and service reviews only if they revolutionize life for consumers in some amazing way.

What Not to Do
- Donít send generic press releases. If you do, be prepared to be made fun of in Dangís blog.

- Do not call to ask if Dang received your press release. ďI get so many that if everyone did that, I'd be on the phone all day confirming receipt. If I like what I see and I want to use it for a Tuesday column, I'll most likely call you. If I like what I see and want to use it for the blog, I'll most likely just post it.Ē

- Donít get Dangís first name wrong. ďIt is Dan Thanh, not Dan!Ē

Contribute to The Baltimore Sun
* To share your business news and press releases, email: businessnews(at)baltsun(dot)com
* If you have a regional story tip, fill out a form here:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/about/bal-newstips,0,682700
.htmlstory

* To contact a Sun reporter, search for email addresses here:
http://www.baltimoresun.com/about/bal-sunemaildatabase,
,4138123.formprofile


Meet Dang
Dang doesnít usually attend shows or conferences unless they're journalism industry-related. Lunch meetings are possible but rare. You can find her at The Sun, but call before you drop by her office.

See Also:

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