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Jan 26, 2007
Interview

How to Pitch Your Story to InfoWorld

SUMMARY: InfoWorld magazine has 220,000 readers, plus another half a million visitors to the site every month. Want to plant a story about yourself or your client? We asked Editor Steve Fox exactly how you should go about it.
Contact
Steve Fox
Editor
InfoWorld
InfoWorld Media Group
501 Second Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 978-3239
Steve_Fox(at)infoworld(dot)com
http://www.infoworld.com


Media profile
- InfoWorld Magazine
- Reach: 220,000 controlled circulation
- Frequency: Weekly
- Audience Demographic: IT professionals
- InfoWorld’s Network
- “Tech Watch”
- “InfoWorld Daily”
- Online site complete with additional blogs, forums and original material

Fox’s background
Steve Fox brings nearly 30 years of publishing experience to InfoWorld. Prior to his current position, Fox served as editorial director at CNET.com for more than two years. He has held positions of Editor-in-Chief of PC World, Founding Editor of The Web Magazine, and Managing Editor of Omni Magazine.

Outside of the publishing world, Fox likes to watch baseball. He also enjoys playing games, such as Scrabble, “not the pull-the-trigger games.” Of course, Fox can’t help but admit that he is drawn to technology. “There’s a little bit of a gadget geek in me, as you would expect.” In fact, Fox has recently ended a three-year stunt writing a “pretty gadgety” column for PC World Magazine.

Current editorial coverage
InfoWorld’s tagline, “get technology right,” drives the publication and its content. Fox says, “We distinguish ourselves by really concentrating on technology itself—what works, what doesn’t work, and how it does so.”

The publication embodies the fact that a business is now defined by its IT whereas, in the past, IT has been more of a support system. “We look at different areas and figure out how technology can drive the business, because IT does drive business.”

Fox says the magazine has an extremely strong focus on service-oriented architecture (SOA) and virtualization. The publication also covers IT themes, such as storage, security, open source, mobility, outsourcing and compliance, as well as the classic platforms, whether it be operating systems or chips.

Technology news, product evaluations, strategic analysis and expert opinions constitute the weekly magazine. InfoWorld’s four main columns serve as the voice of InfoWorld, covering everything from “nitty gritty hardware” to the “business meets IT angle.” Feature stories usually offer an analysis, although an occasional case study is featured.

InfoWorld publishes approximately 300 reviews of large enterprise products per year, which Fox contributes to the “hands-on work” of InfoWorld’s acclaimed Test Center and the review work of many contributing editors. The experienced analysts who comprise the Test Center, as well as the contributing editors, cover a lot of material, so pitching opportunities are ample.

Best way to pitch Fox or his staff
Pitch the right person. Use the contributing editors as "go-betweens." Don’t forget the online venue.

“The temptation is for everyone to send an email to me or to Doug, who heads up our Test Center. This certainly can’t hurt, but I’m just going to forward the pitch to another editor,” says Fox. So, do yourself a favor, skip a step and check out the beat list to pitch the appropriate editor: http://www.infoworld.com/about/adv_edt_bet.html

Email tends to work best. Follow-up phone calls are accepted.

If you’re pitching to get a review, it’s a good idea to read some of InfoWorld’s archived reviews, online or in print. InfoWorld has a consistent set of writers reviewing products; many of them are contributing editors. Find out who typically covers products similar to those you are trying to pitch for review.

Next, email the reviewer something along the lines of “there’s an interesting product I’d like you to take a look at, would you be interested?” The reviewer might then mention your product to the Test Center. Fox admits, “We try to keep our contributing editors busy, so they tend to be pretty devoted to InfoWorld as a media outlet.”

Fox points out, “Columnists have to feed the beast. Bloggers have daily deadlines. Increasingly, everything is moving online.” Hint: don’t forget about the online venue. “It’s a good place to start. People have this idea that it has to be in print, but it’s often easier to pitch online, and we scrape some of the online stuff and it ends up in print.”

The process for pitching online is the same as print, but there is more space online and a few more people to get in touch with. Try out InfoWorld’s blog community, comprised of the print columnists and of 20 additional bloggers. “Knowing who our bloggers are is a great way to get in touch; our columnists are writing online as well.” Visit http://weblog.infoworld.com to read InfoWorld’s blogs and to form relationships with InfoWorld staff.

InfoWorld is constantly looking for new angles, especially ideas that aren’t totally company-specific. Just remember, “the best pitches are the ones that understand InfoWorld’s DNA.”

Pet peeves
Don’t do a “scattershot email.” Sending a copy of your pitch to everyone on staff is problematic; the actual editor for whom the pitch is intended ends up having the email forwarded to him/her multiple times by each staff member who received it.

One thing that drives everyone nuts is the follow-up phone call to ask, ‘I sent my press release; why haven’t you published it yet?’ Note: InfoWorld doesn’t publish press releases, so don’t bug them about it.

Also, don’t bother with inappropriate story types. InfoWorld isn’t interested in financial earnings or personnel moves. Fox says, “It’s just not our thing.”

Pre-written contributions
InfoWorld does not accept pre-written contributions.

Becoming a regular columnist
“At this point, we’re not actively seeking new columnists. Every once in a while it happens though.”

InfoWorld does take on bloggers who are interested in blogging under the InfoWorld banner. Fox says he is extremely selective, especially since there are only around twenty blog spots. If you’re interested though, contact Steve Fox.

Deadlines
“We believe in them.”

Check out the editorial calendar. It’s deliberately vague, but it does give you a sense of what InfoWorld is thinking about. http://www.infoworld.com/about/editcal.html

With reviews, the pipeline is constantly filled. “We like to get stuff early though. If it’s a high-profile product, we’d love to be the first ones to review it.”

News in print is generally written a few days to a week before publication. Features have three to four weeks lead time.

Best way to meet Fox or his staff
If you’re in the area, send a quick email or make a phone call. “Meetings don’t necessarily lead to coverage, but it certainly leads to awareness—and, in the PR game, it's good to be on the radar.”

Fox’s favorite publication
Fox reads all of the competitive publications within his field, but he notes that “frankly, you can get all sorts of news from different places, for example, Wired.”




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