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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Jun 06, 2003
Interview

How to be Featured in a Baseline IT Case Study

SUMMARY: Ziff Davis just launched Baseline Magazine fairly recently, so it may not be on your PR screen yet. However, it has already got 125,000 avid readers, so this is definitely a place you want to plant a story if you are trying to reach IT pros.
Here is how:
Tom Steinert-Threlkeld
Editor-in-chief
Baseline
http://www.baselinemag.com

28 E. 28th
New York, NY 10016
212-503-5383
tst@ziffdavis.com

-> Circulation

125,000 print subscribers. Mainly higher-level IT execs.

-> Steinert-Threlkeld’s background

Steinert-Threlkeld was Editor-in-chief of Interactive Week from 1995 to 2000. Before that, he was a technology journalist for the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

He left Interactive Week to work on an Internet project for Ziff Davis. Then, in 2001, he and Senior VP/Publishing Director Sloan Seymour founded Ziff's Baseline.

“Technology people are looking for experience, looking to see what their peers are doing,” he says. “We wanted to provide real experience about real projects by real companies.”

He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

-> Current editorial coverage

Geared toward technology leaders and business executives who execute and supervise information system projects, this monthly magazine provides a detailed look at how companies are implementing information technology.

“Our method is the case study,” Steinert-Threlkeld says. “They should think about what their customers are doing that is compelling, makes a compelling story, uses enterprise software in a way that works.”

The magazine does not talk about products. Instead, it covers “real live companies in the heart of America making ball bearings or jewelry or cosmetics or plastics and that are applying enterprise systems that other enterprises will need to know about.”

The case studies include information on whether the deployment met its baseline, what ROI metrics were used, specific technology solutions and alternatives, tradeoffs and the players involved (i.e. suppliers, consultants, internal IT and corporate management).

Each issue includes a massive case study of 16 pages, and 3 different 3-page studies.

-> How to pitch Steinert-Threlkeld and his staff

Email is okay, he says, but the best way is to arrange to visit with him in New York.

“Come to our offices and be prepared to talk about your customers’ specific cases. Think about it in advance,” he says. Then give him a call or send an email to set up a meeting.

“Ultimately, we’d like to speak to the CEO of Proctor and Gamble. But if we’re going to talk to a software or hardware company, they should be prepared with 3 to 5 customers of theirs, ready to talk about what exactly they tried to do, the challenges, and what they accomplished.”

To pitch a case study for the cover (the “big honkers,” he calls them), contact John McCormick at john_mccormick@ziffdavis.com. Anna Maria Virzi covers the shorter case studies. Contact her at annamaria_virzi@ziffdavis.com.

Also, can you pitch Steinert-Threlkeld directly? “It happens, I deal with it,” he says.

-> What he looks for in a story pitch

Quiz of the day, he says: “After what I’ve told you so far, you tell me. What do I look for in a pitch?”

The two-word answer: Case study (of course).

“We’re always looking for companies that are deploying info systems, how they go about it, and what they learn,” says Steinert-Threlkeld. “Then we impart that to companies who might be meeting the same challenges.”

For example: “In our second issue, we were looking for someone to tell a supply chain story,” he says. “There was a company that bet its future on its supply chain, which was Kmart. Their supply chain was a big part of their downfall.” (See the story at http://www.baselinemag.com/article2/0,3959,657342,00.asp)

The case studies do not always focus on flameouts. In April, they looked at Delta—a “farsighted company,” Steinert-Threlkeld says. “All airlines are staring death in the eye. Delta had spent money on an advance communications network. The information system they put in place is a big reason they haven’t started talking bankruptcy yet.”

The magazine is not like its sister publication, eWEEK, where you should be ready to talk about your product. Baseline covers the past, not the future. “I can’t tell you how hard it is to get this concept across, but it’s simple enough.”

Be prepared ahead of time. How are your clients using enterprise software in a way that works? Make sure, before you pitch the story, that they are willing to talk about it.

A few tips:

1) In the subject line, lead off with his name (Tom) followed by a comma, then a short description of what your email includes.
2) Follow up at least once, if not twice. After that, you can assume they have decided against using your idea.
3) If you are not ready to give real names and contacts, do not bother.

-> Pet peeves

Steinert-Threlkeld is pretty easy-going (in his photo, he has the reassuring look of the late Dr. Green from ER—check out http://www.baselinemag.com/author_bio/0%2C3659%2Ca=1049%2C0
.asp)
“I love to talk to people,” he says. But he’s not happy if you’re not prepared. “I only have so many hours in the day,” he says. “Have a clear concept.”

-> Deadlines

Do not worry about them. The team works up to 4 months in advance, though the shorter studies can be turned around in a month.

However, “be prepared to kind of live with us for a month or two months,” Steinert-Threlkeld says. “We’re thorough if nothing else.”

-> Submitting pre-written contributions

All writing is done in-house. On the other hand, “we are interested in CIOs or CEOs who have been through the wars who can talk about projects in their companies. If someone wanted to proffer a CIO to write a custom project, we’d work with them on that,” he says.

“They’d have to approach us and pitch the idea, and it would have to come from someone who manages projects—real people doing real things.”

-> Becoming a regular columnist

If there were a CIO who fit the above profile and was interested in being a regular contributor, he would be interested in hearing from them.

-> What he looks for in written press materials

He really only looks at something if it is coming from someone he talked to at a user’s conference. “I don’t look at mass mailings of any sort,” he says.

-> A final word

Remember, he says, “Case studies 'R' us.”

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