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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Mar 28, 2003
Interview

How to Get in O'Dwyer's as a PR Expert

SUMMARY: Jack O'Dywer has been called the crabbiest man in the PR journalism field. If you want to get your name out there, you have to impress him.
Jack O’Dwyer
Editor-in-chief and Publisher—general news
Jack O’Dwyer’s Newsletter, O’Dwyer’s PR Daily Website, and
O’Dwyer’s PR Services Report
271 Madison Ave., #600
New York, NY 10016
212-679-2471
jack@odwyerpr.com

Circulation:

Online: 35,413 visitor sessions in January, 2003
Magazine: 3,500
Newsletter: Approximately 4,000

O’Dwyer’s background:

O’Dwyer started The O’Dwyer Company 35 years ago. Before that, he was a daily newspaper financial reporter, spending 4 years at the Chicago Tribune and 6 years with the New York Journal-American, the “biggest ‘afternoon’ in the nation,” he says, which stopped publishing in the sixties.

About the current state of the PR industry, O’Dwyer says, “People just want profits these days, they’ve reduced PR to the lowest common denominator. PR people used to all have to work for the media for at least four years before they could get into PR."

"These days, kids go right from college into public relations. They last two or three years, then they get thrown out and someone else is hired straight from college. They haven’t ever seen a newsroom, never really had contact with the outside world.”

Current editorial coverage:

O’Dwyer’s publications are “geared to provide the inside news of the public relations industry.” They give info about public relations firms and professionals, the media, corporations, legal issues, jobs, technology, and more, through its Website, newsletters, directories, and guides.

The O’Dwyer’s PR Daily Website is their “main thing,” O’Dwyer says. It posts news, commentary and features, including color photos, and is updated throughout the day. Submit news (anything happening with the war is obviously a hot topic) or color photos of pros who are in the news.

There is also a great publicity photo of the week on the main page. Submit action publicity photos to greg@odwyerpr.com. “We’re looking for people dancing in the streets, people dressed up as dogs or elephants, people looking like Minnie Mouse,” O’Dwyer says. In fact, send anything but a head shot.

The Website is for subscribers only ($295 year), though “infrequent visitors” can visit for $10/week or $25/month.

Jack O’Dwyer’s Newsletter is a weekly 8-pager that gives a roundup of the week’s PR news. Here is how it breaks down:

Three pages cover news and issues facing the PR field—emphasis on marketing, business, and corporate/financial PR.

Four columns cover specialized areas: news of PR/IR firms and services, new accounts, and appointments and promotions.

Two pages cover media news, including breaking news, new publications, new editors, and calls for materials by editors.

One page provides editorial analysis and commentary.

O’Dwyer’s PR Services Report is a monthly magazine that focuses on a different topic each month, so pitch accordingly:
January: PR Buyer’s Guide
February: PA/Environmental PR
March: Food and beverage
April: Broadcast media
May: Ranking of PR firms
June: International
July: Financial comms/IR
August: Travel and tourism
September: Beauty and fashion
October: Healthcare/medical
November: High tech
December: Sports and entertainment

The best way to pitch O’Dwyer or his staff:

“PR people are poor writers,” says O’Dwyer. “Writing is in very short supply.” He repeated this a number of times, so be sure your pitch is well-crafted.

Then, “See what we’re doing, read our publications. Once you see we’re covering a certain topic, send a short letter.” Yes, an actual letter, he says. O’Dwyer himself does not want pitches via email.

However, you can also pitch editor Kevin McCauley, the “main gatekeeper,” for the magazine, newsletter, or Website. He will forward ideas to the appropriate editor—including O’Dwyer, and he prefers email (kevin@odwyerpr.com) or phone.

Some do's and don'ts:
- Don’t send something that happened three months ago. Keep it timely.
- Don’t send email with attachments.
- Don’t waste O’Dwyer’s time (though editors everywhere are notoriously short on time, he seemed even more hassled than most).
- Do remember that they write about the PR industry. (Like this: If you are a PR firm representing Land’s End, do not send a release about Land’s End opening a new store. Tell them about the Land’s End deal from the agency side, not the client side. Sounds basic, but apparently they get a lot of weird stuff.)

A pet peeve:
“Press releases should have at least four contacts,” O’Dwyer says. “Two at the client and two at the agent, and they should be there and answer the darn phones. They should have cell phones, beepers, and home phone numbers. And they should send their releases at least once a month even if we throw them away, or even every week, so that when we need information, we know who to call.”

Deadlines:

They are continuous, O’Dwyer says. “We update the Website by the minute. For the newsletter, send it any time. For the monthly magazine, send it any time.”

Yes, yes, but they do have actual deadlines. By Thursday of the week before for the newsletter, by the third week of the month before for the magazine.

Becoming a regular columnist:

The magazine and Website have guest columns from PR people and marketers. Send an email with your idea to Kevin McCauley. The newsletter is written strictly in-house.

Where you can meet O’Dwyer:

“I used to go to conventions and conferences but not so much anymore. And yeah, you can come by the office to meet me if you want,” he says, but before he can elaborate, it’s “I gotta take another call, goodbye and good luck,” and he is gone.

Favorite professional publication:

The Economist, Harpers, and The Atlantic Monthly.

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