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Jul 09, 2004
How To

How Pitching Canadian High-Tech Journalists Differs From US Media: 4 Key Tips & Useful Contacts

SUMMARY: Are you working for a US high-tech company that wants more media attention from the Great White North? Don't make the mistake of assuming Canadian journalists are identical to their American counterparts. Yes, they're nicer. But they're also on tighter deadlines. More tips and contacts for you here.
"Canadians tend to be nicer," says Susan Verrecchia, President & Founder Verrecchia Group Communications, a technology PR and marketing firm based in Montreal. "It's in their nature. American journalists can be curt if you catch them at a bad time."

While there are a few other differences, pitching Canadian high-tech press follows pretty closely the path you'd take to pitch the US media: understand your product's value proposition, research the publication, keep your pitch short, and work on building relationships.

"Many Canadians don't read American publications, so if you want to reach them, you have to look at Canadian publications as part of your marketing program," Verrecchia suggests. She offered pointers on nailing tech coverage in Canadian media.

Four ways Canadian business tech journalists differ from their US counterparts

1. Canadian media is more generalized.

In the US, says Verrecchia, reporters tend to have more specialized beats. "In Canada, a lot of the journalists who work for a publishing house will write an article and it will get picked up in a sister publication."

They're more generalists than specialists, which means they don't usually have as in-depth an understanding of specific technologies because they have to cover everything.

What that means for you:
Pitch in more layman's terms than you would for a US reporter, and stay away from acronyms (which you should do anyway -- but more so for Canadian media, Verrecchia says).

Make sure your Web site is clear, concise, and consistent so the media has a good resource for more information.

It also means that if you do land an interview, you won't necessarily get as many difficult questions as you would from a US journalist.

2. Less separation between media in Canada

Because only a couple of big publishers put out the bulk of tech publications, there's less separation between all the pubs.

What that means for you:
Say you want to set up a meeting with editors of various pubs. In Canada, you can contact one or two people at a single company, let them know when you're going to be in town, and ask if they'd mind setting up a meeting, Verrecchia says. "They'd set up a meeting where you can hit three or four publications at once."

3. Most pubs are monthly & have a shorter lead time

The monthly magazines' lead times tend to be 30-45 days in Canada, unlike three months in the US.

What that means for you:
You may be able to get Canadian pubs to cover your new product release earlier than you can get coverage in the US because they don't need as much advance notice.

4. Canadians are more responsive

"If you send them an email and they like it, they'll get back to you," Verrecchia says. "I find Canadian media to be more open and friendly."

What that means for you:
Follow-up calls are tolerated more, so if you don't hear back, feel free to call them. "We are finding that with most people we get a better response by email, but because of Spam, you have to follow up by phone."

You can also pitch by phone (generally a no-no with tech pubs in the US).

Specific tips on pitching Canadian tech journalists

Canadian publications' first mandate is to cover Canadian products. "They will cover US products but it would have to be a very compelling or large company, or an interesting area," Verrecchia says.

The best way to get around this, she suggests, is to look at editorial calendars and pitch a story based on what's coming up.

"If your product fits, you might say, 'I notice you're covering this. Have you thought about a sidebar on that topic, we could even write it for you…'" she explains.

Another tactic she has found useful is to review the editor's articles, then in the subject line of your email, tie it in with the article: "In response to your article about remote access technology…"

"We find that very effective," she says. "If you refer back to an article, of course they'll open up your email because they want to know what you're going to say about it."

Verrecchia makes sure her emails include all the pertinent info in two short paragraphs with bullets, so it can be read in full in the email preview pane even if the email isn't opened. Then she writes "More information below," and includes a press release or a link to a Web site.

She also keeps each line in her email no longer than 65 characters long.

Verrecchia also suggests having your PR materials translated to French. "At least, translate your releases," she says. And if you're seriously going after the Quebec market, consider working with someone local in Quebec who can discuss your products in French -- while most people in Quebec speak English, it helps if they can discuss the topic in French.

Contacts for the important tech pubs in Canada

According to Verrecchia, two main publishing companies cover b-to-b technology in Canada:

# 1. Transcontinental IT Business Group (http://www.itbusiness.ca)
IT publications include:
--Computing Canada
--Communications & Networking
--Direction informatique
--Technology in Government
--EDGE (Executives in a Digital Global Economy)
--CDN (Computer Dealer News)
--Revendeur Informatique

# 2. IT World Canada (http://www.itworldcanada.com/)
IT publications include:
--Network World Canada
--ComputerWorld Canada
--CIO Governments' Review
--IT Focus

You'll also want to hit the two main national newspapers, which have tech columnists who post technology reviews online (with a teaser in the print edition sending people to the site):

# 1. Globe and Mail (http://globeandmail.com)
Tech Editor: Beppi Crosariol
bcrosariol@globeandmail.ca

# 2. National Post (http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/index.html)
Tech Editors:
Mark Evans (link to send a form email)--
http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/info/contac
us/mailto.html?name=Mark+Evans


Kevin Restivo (link to send a form email)--
http://www.canada.com/national/nationalpost/info/contac
us/mailto.html?name=Kevin+Restivo


You also have different press release distribution options in Canada.
Try:
--CCN Matthews (http://www.cdn-news.com/scripts/headlines1.pl)
--Canada NewsWire (http://www.newswire.ca/en/)

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