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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Dec 15, 2006
Interview

PR Interview: How to Get Computerworld's Mitch Betts to Think the World of Your Story Pitch

SUMMARY: Senior IT managers at medium to large companies trust Computerworld for news and business information relevant to technology professionals. Want to get your company or tech item mentioned?

Find out how in our exclusive interview with Executive Editor Mitch Betts.
Contact information
Mitch Betts
Executive Editor
Computerworld
One Speen St.
Framingham, MA 01701
http://www.computerworld.com/blogs/betts
http://www.computerworld.com

301-262-8243
mitch_betts(at)computerworld(dot)com

Media profile
Computerworld magazine
Circulation: 250,000 controlled print circulation, 550,000 readers. Computerworld has a total audience of 1.69 million, according to IntelliQuest CIMS v.8.0.
Frequency: Weekly
Demographic: IT management personnel from midsize to large organizations

Betts' background
"I'm a graybeard," Betts jokes about his 22-year stint at Computerworld. Why has he stayed around so long? Simply put: He likes it. What appeals to him most is the publication’s freedom to be as objective and truthful as their readers would expect. The absence of advertising allows that luxury. "We have a strong focus on quality information, writing, accuracy and design.” In addition, Betts says he thrives within the chameleon nature of the ever-changing computer media: “There are always new issues."

Betts started as a Washington correspondent in the 1980s and steadily rose through the ranks. Currently, he runs the internal operations of the editorial department.

Betts enjoys the flexibility of his position, especially the opportunity to work off-site. Even though the magazine is headquartered in Massachusetts, he reigns from an office five minutes from his Maryland home. He loves being able to go home for lunch.

Current editorial coverage
Computerworld covers social, legal, political and managerial issues of information technology with a focus on solving problems of medium to large corporations. Topics such as cyber law, privacy, antitrust, ergonomics, telecommuting, ethics, benchmarking, "shadow spending," ROI, outsourcing, IT disasters and computerized gerrymandering have recently enlightened the readers.

Computerworld stories are intended for the major decision-makers. "If CIOs of General Motors, Wal-Mart, Amazon would be interested, we’d be interested," he says.

The front half of the print publication is news; the back half contains magazine-style features. Opinion columns are sprinkled throughout. This summer, Computerworld won the American Society of Business Press Editors' "Magazine of the Year" award for the second time.

The best way to pitch Betts
Computerworld’s journalists respond better to email than to phone calls. It’s not so they can hit the delete button, he says, but because it's easier to forward to the correct editor or to send a standard reply to a common question. Even though Computerworld reporters are too polite to hang up on callers, they consider phone calls to be “second choice," according to Betts

For sharing up-to-the-minute developments, you can contact the appropriate beat reporter. They're listed on the Web site here: http://www.computerworld.com/action/pages.do?command=viewPage&pagePath=/contacts/contacts_edit. But remember, the priority for these newshounds is to add stories to the Web site, “so, it needs to be truly breaking news,” Betts says.

For features and special projects, he suggests monitoring Computerworld's editorial calendar: http://computerworld.com/mediakit/index.html (Click on "Edit Calendar"). The calendar is updated monthly and it shows the PR deadline.

If you have an idea regarding stories off the editorial calendar, email it to pitches(at)computerworld(dot)com. You might suspect your email has vanished into a black hole, but Betts promises that you'll get an answer from the appropriate content editor.

Expectations for a story pitch
In a perfect world, suggestions to Betts would showcase a large corporation and an IT manager who is willing to talk about business problems and concrete results using technology. For example, the exec wants to share how he shaved two days off a process, made “X” dollars or earned “X” new customers.

The story is even more enticing if it's an exclusive to Computerworld. Betts also reminds that people need to be accessible and ready to be interviewed. Often, he gets promised a client who turns out not to be available.

Pitching pet peeves
Betts gets annoyed by PR professionals who say, "We’d like to place this in Computerworld." "You don’t place things here any more than you’d place them in The Wall Street Journal," he says. Misdirected pitches, such as sending breaking news items to the features editor, also irritate him.

Printed press materials
Since paper creates office clutter, Betts doesn't collect press kits or other collateral materials. He makes one exception -- collecting newly published books for excerpts or interviews with the author.

Prewritten contributions
Computerworld doesn't accept bylined articles from vendors in the hardware or software community. Also, Betts won’t allow customer case studies written by vendors. His reporting team prefers to do their own interviews.

Becoming a regular columnist
Betts welcomes contributions from possible columnists for either the Op/Ed page or the features section. Again, he points out that these articles would not come from the hardware/software vendor community. "They would need to be book authors or independent consultants or professional writers. We have high standards for columnists."

Where you can meet Betts
Because Betts works remotely, he doesn’t do press tours or breakfast meetings. Don’t despair, Computerworld’s other editors are open to meetings. For example, he says, tech editor Tommy Peterson -- tommy_peterson(at)computerworld(dot)com -- sometimes visits with vendors when they make their Boston tours.

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