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Jun 27, 2003
Interview

How to Get Written About in Catalog Success Magazine

SUMMARY: Want to get your name in front of 21,000 direct response retailers? We interview Catalog Success Magazine's editor to find out how you should pitch to them to maximize your chances of getting a mention.
Donna Loyle
Editor
Catalog Success
401 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19108
215-238-5224
Fax: (215) 238-5378
dloyle@napco.com.

-> Circulation

21,000 print magazine recipients

-> Loyle’s background

Loyle has been an editor for 14 years, spending the last two as Editor of Catalog Success. She began her career working for trade magazines and newspapers, covering topics from real estate to fitness.

Loyle thrives on the high stress/high deadline aspect of editing. “It’s highly creative,” she says. “You’re putting out a brand new product every month and I love that.”

About the catalog industry, she says it is a lot of fun. “You can be quite cutting-edge in design and editorial with our specific readers because they get it,” she says.

In a recent issue covering a pet catalog, for example, she put a dog on the cover. “Very few business magazines can do that,” says Doyle. “And our readers loved it.”

-> Current editorial coverage

A monthly how-to trade magazine with a readership of senior executives from catalog companies, each issue covers case studies, list rental, shipping solutions, warehousing, creative/copywriting, fulfillment, print and production issues.

The magazine is case study driven. Eight of their 12 issues a year include a lengthy case study/profile of a cataloger who appears on the cover. One-page case studies are always included, and a profile of a cataloger also fills the back page.

The magazine does not have a specific section on new products, but it does have a half-page that talks about new technologies.

-> How to pitch Loyle and her staff

Email press releases or story ideas directly to Loyle, and she will forward it to the right person. She prefers not to get phone calls—but if you do call, ask her if she has a moment to talk before launching into your pitch. If she does, she’ll give you exactly two minutes.

“If they can be succinct and comprehensive in those two minutes, I’m enormously impressed. In my opinion, they’ve done their homework,” she says.

The only emails Loyle deletes without opening (besides junk) are emails from PR people who consistently send her untargeted pitches (yes, she keeps track).

“Either they haven’t cleaned their list recently and send it to someone who no longer works here or they haven’t ever contacted me to see if I’m interested in their products. That shows sloppy work habits,” she says.

-> What Loyle looks for in a story pitch

Products and services catalogers actually use. “We get a lot of software solutions, and that’s fine, but they have to have catalogers who have used those solutions.”

Think your story ideas through and show her how it’s geared toward her how-to mission.

Press releases should be as close to news writing style as possible. Answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how, and let her know how it fits into the editorial mission. Don’t try to sell her. “Heavily promotional copy is a sure route to the trashcan.”

Be aware that she works at least four months ahead.

Two knock-her-socks-off pitches:

A. Tell her about a particular campaign that worked: You instituted X technology, tested for 6 months, and experienced X response rate or increase.

B. Say, “I looked at the editorial calendar and saw that you’re working on a story on printing. I have a contact at a printer. Would you be interested in talking to him?”

More tips:
C. Include the right contact names. “About 20% of PR leads don’t pan out, because the client is shocked that the PR person gave us their name,” Loyle says. Make sure you clear it with your client or CEO ahead of time.

D. Do not pitch her and then fail to return her call.

E. Speak her language. Ask: What do you need, when do you need it, do you need art with that, and how should we submit art?

F. Check out the editorial calendar at http://www.catalogsuccess.com/doc/editcal.html and pitch her someone for a particular story.

G. Send her your client list. “This is very helpful, so then I know that if so-and-so just designed a new Web site, I can call Ken and he’ll have someone I can talk to.”

H. Keep her in the loop about what is going on. “I’m looking for PR people who will be my partner and not just try to sell something to me."

This sounds basic, but make sure you have cataloger clients. She is shocked how often she replies to a pitch, asking for contacts at a cataloger, and the PR person replies that they do not have any catalog clients but are trying to get into the industry.

“That’s not my job, that’s theirs,” she says.

-> Pet peeves

1. When someone pitches her in June for the July issue.

2. Poorly targeted PR pitches. In a previous job, she says, “It actually became a joke in the office: how many poorly targeted pitches did you get today? We’d pass them around.”

3. Overly schmoozy PR people. “I’m sure they’re nice people, and I’m a nice person, but I don’t have the time. The trick for PR people is to be polite and respectful of my time. Like one guy, he’s the nicest guy in the world, but he wants to talk about the weather.”

-> Deadlines

Loyle works about four months out (she is currently sending story assignments out for both September and October issues).

One “really good” PR person who Loyle works with all the time called her when the editorial calendar was posted in December, offering story ideas for April and October. “I like that,” Loyle says.

-> Submitting pre-written contributions

They accept bylined articles. Contact Loyle directly for guidelines. Remember that she is looking for how-to and case studies, not trends or opinions. (If you or a client have something to say, see A Final Note, below.)

-> Becoming a regular columnist

Loyle is happy with her set of “fabulous” columnists.

-> What she looks for in written press materials

Basic stuff. Nice and clean, good paper, no typos.

Press kits should have a press release, company background, business card of PR person, and ideally a page of story ideas.

-> Plus, also consider pitching Tipline ezine

Catalog Success is one of a group of target marketing publications put out by North American Publications. For experts in the field interested in submitting update pieces, news items, trends, and opinion, try submitting your 500-word pre-written contribution to Tipline.

This newsletter, with a broader focus on all direct mail, goes to 15,000 opt-in subscribers.

Send to Gabrielle Mosquera, Associate Editor of Catalog Success and Co-editor of Tipline, at gmosquera@napco.com.

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