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Feb 20, 2004
Interview

PR Interview: How to Reach CIO Today's 65,000 Readers

SUMMARY: Are you trying to pitch a story about enterprise-level software? CIO Today specializes in this topic. We interviewed Executive Editor David Geller to get some PR tips for you on the sorts of stories he's looking for, and how to pitch him.
By Contributing Editor Jennifer Nastu

David Geller
Executive Editor
NewsFactor's CIO Today
21700 Oxnard Street, Suite 2040
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
http://cio-today.newsfactor.com/



-> Reach
Newsletter: 65,000
Web site: 250,000+ unique monthly visitors

Because the NewsFactor Network is syndicated and is also a 24-hour provider of Yahoo! News.

-> Geller's background

Geller actually has a background doing PR for high tech companies -- which means he has a good understanding of what PR people go through when they pitch stories.

After that, "I got into being editor for NewsFactor Network and then when CIO Today was launched somewhat over a year ago, I became executive editor for it," he says.

Though he much prefers the editorial side of things, Geller says he sometimes misses the elation of landing an interview or story in a much-coveted publication. "But there are definitely some wonderful wins in editorial as well," he says.

One of the things he enjoys about CIO Today is that, since it's part of the NewsFactor Network, it enjoys a tremendous audience reach, far beyond the general niche market one might suppose for a trade tech publication.


-> Current editorial content

CIO Today content is geared towards the specifics of large-scale purchases for the enterprise, focusing on high level enterprise IT content.

Some stories outline the steps involved in implementing a new technology. "If there's a specific issue about security, we don't discuss it conceptually," he says. "We go into detail."

Other stories include features, product reviews, and top tech daily news.

Everything from the newsletter is also published online.


-> The best way to pitch Geller and his staff

Don't try to call. The gatekeeper (at least the one we spoke to) takes her job seriously. Even after I explained that I was not pitching a story but wanted to interview the editor, she would not put me through to anyone, even voicemail, and insisted I go through the general editorial email box.

Instead, send your pitch via email to editorial2004@newsfactor.com. That's the general intake for all of NewsFactor's 10 publications. Pitches are distributed from there.

However, if you're an advertiser, you can probably manage to pitch a story to someone personally. "They just have more direct contact with us individually," Geller says. "That doesn't guarantee they'll get coverage, but there's more direct access."


-> What Geller looks for in a story pitch

First, keep it short. Real short. A couple of sentences are plenty, Geller says.

For example, if you're pitching a news story, send a press release in the body of the email (no attachments, please). Add a sentence or two -- but not three -- on how the news impacts the industry. "90% of press releases don't have an impact on the industry, they're self-promotional," Geller says.

If you're pitching an idea for a feature, explain what the story idea is and why it's interesting to his readers. When pitching a company that readers will recognize, you have a better chance of getting coverage.

"If we're going to have a feature pitch from a company whose name might not be a big reader attraction, we'd look at that pitch in terms of crafting a larger story," Geller explains. In that case, let him know what the broader angle might be, and how your company would fit in.

Here are five other tips:

1. Tell editors what to expect in an email.

Your subject line might read: "Feature pitch (or news pitch) for CIO Today."

"On a daily basis, the inbox might get 250 to 300 pitches," Geller says. It should be clear what the story is and if immediate action needs to be taken.

2. Let editors know if your client reads the publication.

"That shows there's a relationship, and whoever's reading the email sees that there's an understanding of our publication," Geller says.

You might say, "My client reads every issue of your publication, and he's very interested in " followed by your pitch.

3. Offer to underwrite the cost of product reviews.

Unlike reviews of a PDA, for example, "these reviews require people with expertise in that industry who can invest the time and effort to look at the product, and there's cost involved," Geller says.

Understand, however, that underwriting does not guarantee a positive review.

4. Let them know that you have a high-level individual at the company who's willing to comment. Editors hate chasing story leads only to find nobody's willing to go on the record.

5. Like it or not, advertisers have a better chance of getting coverage.

Geller noticed as a PR pro that, when a competitor of one of his clients got a story, they often had an ad in the pages, as well.

"There's some kind of relationship there," he says. "It's not a direct relationship, but in general the companies that advertise more are a better known brand name and they're more visible to readers."


-> Pet peeves

The biggest pet peeve, Geller says, is people who try to get through to editors in questionable ways. "That's why it was so tough getting through to me," he says. "If an editor gets a phone call and they perceive there was some kind of deception, they're obviously not going to have a good attitude."


-> What he looks for in printed press materials

If it conveys info you can't give in any other way, he'll look at it. If it's a stack of typewritten papers, "nobody's going to read those."


-> Where you can meet Geller or his staff

Their policy is to spend face time with advertisers only, because of time and budgetary constraints, he says. "If we were to spend the time on the phone or in person, we couldn't get our work done."

As for conferences, they don't attend too many. "The nature of online is we have information at our fingertips," he says. But they do attend some, "and when we're there we're happy to meet with people."


-> Favorite professional publication

"These days, I find myself going to Google's news page," Geller says. "They simply consolidate technology news from so many different sources." He also skims through virtually all the largest news sites, including CNN, ABC News, MSNBC, and the BBC.

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