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Apr 02, 2004

PR Interview: How to Pitch Your Story to Entrepreneur Magazine &

SUMMARY: 540,000 small and mid-sized business execs read Entrepreneur magazine each month. Here's contact information detailing how to reach the right editor for your pitch, and what they are looking for. Plus, includes a sample of a real-life pitch letter that worked:
Peggy Bennett
Articles Editor
2445 McCabe Way
Suite 400
Irvine, CA 92614

-> Reach

540,000 circulation

-> Bennett's background

Bennett landed at Entrepreneur as her second job after college (her first was a writing position at a telecommunications company), and she has been there for 14 years.

Bennett just came back from maternity leave after her third child (now three-and-a-half months old). "I'm still doing this fulltime because I love what I do," she says.

Is she tired? Very. "I'm a good person to talk to on this topic, because we get so many pitches. For a tired person like me, coming up with a process of sending something we're really going to look at, it's important."

-> Current editorial coverage

"Our mission is to help readers start and grow their businesses," Bennett says. The monthly magazine is geared toward established business owners who want to grow to the next level, have anywhere from a handful to 25 employees, have been in business for about 10 years, and have $1 to $5 million and up in annual sales.

"We are very hands-on and how-to," Bennett says. Topics include advice on new software products, profiles of CEOs (but only in a way that's hands-on and helpful), trends in money, trends in management, how to help your business grow, how to manage employees better, where to put your money when it comes to technology, and "other general business stories."

-> Best way to pitch the editors at Entrepreneur

Via email or -- get this -- snail mail. Phone and fax are the worst ways to get in touch.

"We don't like follow-ups," says Bennett. "We keep really good tabs on our sections. If we're interested, we'll contact the PR contact. We get bombarded with pitches."

Lead time is 6 months in advance. Pitch 7-8 months in advance if possible.

Editorial contacts:

- Technology Editor Mike Hogan (

- Money or management topics, Executive Editor Maria Valdez (

- Automotive, government, entrepreneurial profiles, sales and marketing, start-up topics, travel, inventions, and women and minority issues, Executive Editor Karen Axelton (

- Franchising or business opportunities (for both print and online), annual rankings of the fastest-growing new businesses, Best Cities, Best Colleges or any other special research listing, Executive Editor Maria Anton (

- Book reviews/excerpts, or writer queries for the magazine, Articles Editor Peggy Bennett (

- All story pitches for, Web editor Teresa Ciulla (

Bear in mind that it does no good to send your pitch to more than one editor. "We all work really closely together," Bennett explains. "If they get a pitch that sounds good for someone else, we're not going to throw it into the trash. A lot of companies send all of us every pitch; it's a waste of effort. If you can't decide between two editors, just choose one."

-> What they look for in a story pitch

First, make sure your pitch fits into these five categories:

--Entrepreneurs must be 25 to 50 years old (and willing to have their age published), they must be the owner or operator of the business, and they must be willing to publish annual sales figures.

--Small to mid-size businesses only
If you're pitching something innovative that a large corporation is doing, they won't cover it, even if it's an interesting story. "We'd go out and find a small business doing it," Bennett says.

They define small business as being up to 100 employees.

--Must have application for small businesses
One pitch recently talked about a new way of bartering for TV advertising time. "It was exciting for us, but the examples they provided were all large businesses and they didn't tell us if it would work for small businesses."

--Can't be geared toward a particular department
"Our businesses don't typically have a lot of separate divisions or departments," says Bennett. "A lot of times we get pitches that say, this is something for your accounting manager. Our business owners are involved in every aspect of the business."

--Can't be too pricey (if it's a product or service)
"We get pitches on good products, then we find out that it's half a million dollars to implement. That's something that our business owners just can't afford. We're not always looking for bargain basement, but they have limited resources," she says.

The worst pitches Bennett receives are the ultra-generic ones. Three examples of lousy pitch ideas:
How to write a press release
How to start a small business
How to manage a small business

"Those are just too basic for our readers," she says. But if you presented it with a new angle, such as, "Today's press releases should always be sent by email. Here's why and how," that might generate some interest.

-> Five tips for crafting a successful pitch:

1. Tie-ins to current events
"We try to write our features with some topical grab." For example, she says, when unemployment was spiking in the last few years, pitches that tied in different HR products or that focused on entrepreneurs making do with fewer resources got more attention than generic pitches.

2. "Query" in the subject line
For example: "Feature query for Entrepreneur" or "Query for Management section."

3. Press releases in plain English
No sales/marketing jargon.

4. Don't bother sending personnel changes
"It's a waste of time. They get tossed in the trash immediately."

5. US stories only
The magazine focuses on US entrepreneurs. Stories must be applicable to all small business owners across the country, not just in a particular city or state.

(See link below to sample of a winning pitch email.)

-> Pet peeves

Many Entrepreneur writers jump on Profnet and MediaMap if they're looking for a specific type of entrepreneur. If you're responding to a query, don't try to force the angle. "If [a writer] is looking for three types of business owners and we get the same person pitched for all three different ones, they really get frustrated," says Bennett. "Just respond if it's relevant."

Also, if you do answer a query and land an interview, it's possible you'll be contacted later by a different writer for an interview, since writers don't always know who has been interviewed in the past. Be up front with them, or it doesn't look good for you when they find out (and they will).

"Please be honest," she says. "Our writers know to ask if a person's been interviewed by Entrepreneur recently. We won't use them two months in a row."

-> Pre-written contributions

"If a finance company had an expert who wanted to write on a certain topic for the magazine, they could query us their idea but we will never accept an already-completed manuscript," Bennett says. "It's better to send a name as a possible expert."

-> Becoming a regular columnist

It's never a bad idea, if you're an expert in a certain area and have been published before, to send an email telling your area of expertise, says Bennett. "We don't have a lot of turnover, but if we had something from you we'd hold onto it."

-> What they look for in printed press materials

If it's a product the magazine could potentially photograph -- like gourmet foods from a home-based gourmet food company, for example -- then photos are good to send. Send a photo, too, if you're pitching a specific entrepreneur.

Make sure you still include a specific pitch. "We get a lot of beautiful media kits that don't really say anything," Bennett says.

-> Deadlines

Six to seven months in advance of publication.

However, if you have a new software product that's specifically helpful to small business, send it whenever it's available. It might still send up in a future issue, even if it's no longer brand new.

-> Favorite professional publication

The Wall Street Journal

Note - here's the link to that pitch that worked:
See Also:

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