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Jan 10, 2003
Interview

How to Get Your Company or CEO Mentioned in Inc. Magazine

SUMMARY: Did you know Inc Magazine has a new Editor in Chief? He is making a whole bunch of changes (new sections, new departments, new kinds of stories). If you want Inc to cover your company or CEO, read on for our exclusive tips on how to make it happen.
Journalist Profile:

John Koten
Editor in Chief
Inc Magazine
G+J USA Publishing
375 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017-5514
(212) 499-2000
jkoten@inc.com
http://www.inc.com


-> Circulation:

650,000 print magazine subscribers who are typically mid-small business owners (companies with fewer than 500 employees but more than 10).

-> Kotenís background:

Koten began at the Wall Street Journal where he was worked for 15 years as a reporter and eventually as an editor. First he covered the auto industry from Chicago, where he eventually became the Chicago bureau chief covering the Federal bail out of Chrysler Corporation from 1979-1982.

Koten left the Journal to become Editor of Worth magazine. After 10 years there he was hired to as Editor in Chief of Inc magazine.

"Inc offers the kind of business journalism that I havenít done much, but Iím excited about," Koten admits. "Thatís because Inc readers are a very creative audience of people who are out there trying to build companies themselves with their own skills and wits. Theyíre not just trying to work for someone else, follow someone elseís formulas or buy franchises."

-> Current editorial coverage:

News, guidance, and leadership advice for owners who want to succeed at expanding the businesses they own.

Since Koten took over recently, the magazineís headquarters not only moved from Boston to New York, he has also implemented a huge shift in the editorial content.

"Thatís due to the change in the business landscape," Koten says. "A few years ago everything was about investing and buying stocks in companies and Internet start-ups. Thatís over, and while itís not clear what will replace that, a part of our job is to define that new mission. We want to show people how dynamic, interesting, and cool it is to own and run your own outfit."

"Weíre making a lot of changes," Koten says. "All the previous sections like Features and Incubator will be replaced by new sections. The front section will be called High Priority and will include news and things of urgent interest to small business owners such as how the Republican take over of Congress will change the business landscape for small business owners."

Another section called Down to Business or Hands Down (the final names are still undecided) will include straightforward strategy and advice for small business owners on marketing, employment practices, leadership issues, business services, etc.

Inc will still include the Inc Life section. "It will be recast as a uniquely tailored lifestyle advice section done with the idea that people who own businesses have busy, demanding lives and often have to incorporate what theyíre doing with their company as part of their leisure time," Koten says.

The Features section will provide narrative story telling and interesting reads about people who encountered obstacles in business and found ways around them.

The 2003 editorial calendar is at:
http://www.inc.com/advertise/magazine/calendar.html

-> What Koten looks for in a story pitch:

"The biggest problem I have with pitches is that people donít try to think about what will make the story useful to our audience," Koten says.

"People often think that business success alone is an interesting story. It isnít. Whatís interesting isnít growth or doubled sales, but the person behind it all, how his view of the world was different than everyone elseís, and how heís taking advantage of that to succeed in business."

Another interesting angle "is a fundamental lesson that a business illustrates in becoming a success that other business can learn from," Koten adds. "It is not business news for consumer audience it is business news for an audience of businessmen looking for ideas and imaginative new approaches they can apply to their own business."

Two tips:

1. Keep your pitches short, make it clear why your story should be in Inc magazine.

"Get our interest first. Weíre not going to write a story just based on a pitch anyways. So, catch our attention. Long pitches take to long to look at to figure out what the story is and often donít get read."

2. Email is best.

Staff members or regular contributors have their email address listed at the end of the article. Look for a story in the magazine similar to yours and send your pitch to that writer.

Koten welcomes emails sent directly to his box as well.

-> Deadlines:

Send pitches anytime. "The magazine is an ongoing work in progress," Koten says. "But, the more timely the pitch the better. If itís something that can be run any time itís more likely to get put on the back burner."

Kotenís suggestion: "Itís more important to focus on the hook, the news angle, how it relates to whatís going on in the world."

-> Submitting pre-written contributions:

Inc rarely publishes anything that is pre-written. "Itís unlikely weíd work with anyone that isnít on contract to produce something for the magazine," Koten says. "So, Iíd rather get an email letting me know what theyíre offering instead of them just sending it to me cold."

Koten makes a few exceptions. "For example, if a CEO writes their own first person story, that might be used if there is an important lesson there for our readers."

-> Becoming a regular columnist:

Koten is always interested in hearing from really good writers who have expertise and credentials in one of the critical areas of business marketing, management, work/family issues, or economics.

-> What Koten looks for in an online pressroom:

"Something new, something different, something that makes me think," Koten says. "The stories that work for us are what we call profiles with a purpose. People doing something in business who are worth writing about because there is some sort of takeaway for our audience."

"These are people who are succeeding in unusual or innovative ways, new ideas, and anything that suggests that the world might be a different place in a couple of years."

-> What Koten looks for in print press materials:

"We look at everything but they arenít a big source of ideas for us," Koten says. "Iíd much rather get a specific pitch from somebody."

->Where you can meet Koten:

If you are in the New York area, call to set up coffee or lunch. The Inc staff attends a few major events each year (the ICIC Intercity events, major business shows as well as the Inc 500 conference in late March in Palm Springs in 2003).

-> Kotenís favorite professional publication:

The Wall Street Journal.

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