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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Jul 25, 2003
Interview

PR People - How to Impress Reporters at CIO Insight

SUMMARY: Ellen Pearlman, Editor-in-Chief at CIO Insight magazine told us how you should pitch stories to them (including four different email contacts), and how to avoid her three pet peeves that will get your email canned immediately.
Ellen Pearlman
Editor-in-Chief
CIO Insight
212-503-4971
ellen_pearlman@ziffdavis.com

-> Circulation
50,000 print

-> Pearlman's background

Ellen Pearlman enjoys launching and running new products. She launched Home PC magazine and VARBusiness for CMP in the mid-80s, a healthcare publication called Managed Healthcare News, and an Internet health site in 2000.

"I love the creative process, and creating the shell around which all the creative goes into," she says. "I love the packaging, and working with a great team."

She has spent most of her career in high-tech. "It has the promise of creating tremendous benefits and also the danger to be used in ways that are not to the benefit of mankind," Pearlman says. "I enjoy the duality of it. It's never dull."

-> Current editorial coverage

A strategic business journal for top IT execs, CIO Insight looks at complex issues in technology and attempts to solve them through deep analysis, trends, and case studies.

Specifically geared toward the most senior IT decision makers -- VPs and CIOs in charge of setting technology business goals and strategy -- the magazine has a "fairly small circulation that allows us to have a very focused editorial approach," says Pearlman.

Rather than concentrating strictly on tactics, the editorial focus starts with a business problem, then goes on to show how the IT side helps the business meet its strategic goals.

In addition to case studies, trends, and analysis pieces, a feature called "Expert Voices" interviews thought-leaders -- experts in their fields who have a "novel way of thinking, a provocative idea, or will provoke our readers to think differently," Pearlman says.

Six times a year, the magazine runs a pull-out feature called White Boards. This is a visual representation of best practices: an organizational chart or a decision tree to help people manage their jobs better or to think through a decision in a visual way.

-> How to pitch

Send story ideas to Pearlman (Ellen_Pearlman@ziffdavis.com) or one of her 3 editors:

o Edward Baker (Edward_baker@ziffdavis.com) is in NY and covers technology and Expert Voices.

o Marcia Stepanek (Marcia_stepanek@ziffdavis.com) is also in NY and covers case studies.

o Allan Alter (allen_alter@ziffdavis.com) is in Woburn, MA, and does White Boards and research.

All of the editors work on trend stories. If your story has a geographical focus, pitch the person in the correct locale.

"But you can talk to anybody on any idea," says Pearlman. "We all work collaboratively. We have monthly story meetings."

You can also email the editors to request a face-to-face meeting. Contact the appropriate editor with a "very clear reason for why it would be worth half an hour or an hour of the editor's time to meet with you."

-> What she looks for in a story pitch

Craft your pitch in one of two ways for maximum appeal:

1) To pitch a new product, don't go the straight press release route.

Instead, explain that you're releasing the product because of a trend you're seeing among customers and that you want to be responsive to trends in the marketplace.

Give a sense of what you're hearing and learning from your clients. "A lot of dealer companies spend a lot of time talking to the people we're reaching," Pearlman says. "They may come at something with a new perspective because of the niche they're in."

If you've come up with a solution to a problem, tell her that.

2) Old story, new angle.

If something has been widely written about, "it's no longer interesting," she says. But if coverage of the topic has missed something important, or if you have a unique angle, let her know.

"Tantalize us with a story that other CIOs would be interested in," says Pearlman. "Likewise if there's something new on the horizon and you have an interesting perspective on it."

Give some thought to the information CIOs really need in order to understand what's going on in the industry that would bear deep analysis.

"If I read a story pitch and two sentences into the pitch I'm thinking, wow, this is really interesting, chances are we'll follow up."

-> Pet peeves

1) Generalized pitches, like this: "CIOs are under a lot of cost pressures and ya-da, ya-da, ya-da." Be specific, she says.

2) Using every buzzword or acronym in the business, so that the pitch says nothing. "95% of press releases I get are filled with them."

3) Jargon. "Everyone wants to have their own personal label for what it is they do: corporate performance measurement or business performance measurement. To an editor, these words become meaningless."

Instead of doing these things, talk about the benefits. How are the CIO and IT team going to make a difference? Is the CIO an innovative thinker? Can others learn from him, and why?

-> Deadlines

No specific deadlines, but make sure you pitch a story at least 3 to 4 months in advance.

-> Becoming a regular columnist

"We do have five regular columnists, so at the moment we're not looking for new ones. Certainly we are looking for interesting perspectives for Expert Voices."

-> Submitting pre-written contributions

"We rarely accept them. Largely, they don't meet our needs." However, there have been a handful of instances where they have published a pre-written story, generally from an expert in the field who has done some kind of innovative research.

-> Where you can meet Pearlman

Analyst conferences such as Gartner or Forrester, association events, and some vendor conferences. If you miss her at those, she says, "We do meet with people in our offices all the time."

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