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Jul 23, 2004
Interview

PR Interview: How to Pitch IT Stories to CMP's 19 Pipeline Sites

SUMMARY: If you want IT pros to read about your company, chances are they're surfing one of the Pipeline websites. We interviewed the head of editorial across all sites to learn what you should do to get into:
- Advanced IP Pipeline
- Systems Management Pipeline
- Messaging Pipeline
- Database Pipeline
- Outsourcing Pipeline
- Enterprise Applications Pipeline
- Developer Pipeline ...
Scot Finnie Editor, CMP TechWeb Network's Pipeline Publications CMP Media LLC 600 Community Drive Manhasset, NY 11030 516-562-5000 http://www.techweb.com/pipelines/

-> Reach

June 2004 the Pipeline sites combined traffic reached just under one million page views. Individually, the sites range from about 20K page views (some of the newer sites) to nearly 230K for Security Pipeline.

As far as users are concerned, that ranges from a low of 6,000 users (Compliance Pipeline) to nearly 94,000 users for Security Pipeline.

-> Finnie's background

Finnie currently serves as editor of TechWeb, which includes the 19 Pipeline publications. Before coming to TechWeb three years ago, he was managing editor of WinMag.com, a freelancer covering computers and "desktop stuff," and the very first editor of ZDNet "back in the heady days of the mid-90's."

"I love the world of online because it’s a new medium," he says. "Even now it's in its infancy. We're still shaping it, still figuring out business models, how to reach people. I've worked in publishing in other industries; this one's much more fun."

-> Current editorial coverage

The Pipelines are in-depth, topical content Web sites tailored to IT professionals.

"CMP has a lot of content already that is very rich and very broad," Finnie says. "We have all these publications but they're not pulling together their content [to provide] comprehensive coverage on a vertical topic."

The Pipelines, the first of which launched just over a year ago, cover news, reviews, technology, trends, analysis, how-to, case studies, and Q&A -- "virtually anything you'd find in any computer magazine," Finnie says.

In fact, you can almost think of all 19 Pipelines taken together as a single IT magazine. "And there are more to come. We wouldn't stop at 19. It's not a round number," he quips.

The Pipelines include original content as well as content repurposed from sister publications.

They include: Advanced IP Pipeline Systems Management Pipeline Messaging Pipeline Database Pipeline Outsourcing Pipeline Enterprise Applications Pipeline Developer Pipeline Web Services Pipeline Compliance Pipeline Desktop Pipeline Business Intelligence Pipeline IT Utility Pipeline Small Business Pipeline Networking Pipeline Server Pipeline Linux Pipeline Mobile Pipeline Security Pipeline Storage Pipeline

-> Best way to pitch Pipeline editors

Many editors of the Pipelines work on a contract basis and aren't based out of TechWeb's offices. So don't send snail mail.

Instead, go to the site for each individual Pipeline and click on the contacts link, where you'll find the names and email addresses of the editors.

"We tend to be email based," Finnie says, so that should be your primary means of contact.

You can also call the main number and ask the receptionist to connect you to the editor of a specific Pipeline. You *should* then be put through to an announce-only mailbox that tells you the editor's phone number.

However, this is a brand new system, "so I'm still trying to get the receptionists aware of it." In other words, it might not work yet.

-> What Pipeline editors look for in a story pitch

"If you have a job to just push press releases, you may have a hard time," Finnie says. Instead, forge relationships with the editors for the most effective approach.

Give them news, information, or events that nobody else knows about. For example, he says, some months ago: "Someone called to say, 'Did you know that this Spam Consortium was forming between all these big companies?' I knew it was being talked about but didn't know it was happening yet. I heard that it was going to be announced later that day."

If you can take current news like that and tie it in with a message related to the company, that's even better.

"Would we cover one product from a little known company that doesn't have a clear technology advantage? No. They have to have a hook," he says. "If it's a big company, that's the hook. If it's a unique technology, it doesn't matter how big or small the company is."

Make sure of 3 things:

1. Your pitch solves a problem for an enterprise.

2. You're clear on the benefits, and you can speak about them succinctly.

3. You study the publication and understand what interests the editor.

Finnie started to mention some of the most approachable editors:

David Haskins of Mobile Pipeline is "one of our best and very easy to work with."

John Dickinson of Messaging Pipeline is also very easy to approach.

"Enterprise Applications Pipeline, Story Pipeline, Business Intelligence -- there's none that I would say are hard to approach," he says. "Of course, all these guys are pressed for time…"

-> Pet peeves

All editors hate if you send a press release then call fifteen minutes later and say, "Just following up on the press release," Finnie says. "I'm using 15 minutes facetiously. It could be the next day. But phone calls should be reserved for some hard piece of information."

About PR folks who don't even know which Pipeline they're pitching, he says, "I think they're hurrying themselves. It's the scattershot approach. Inside, I'm going, 'What a waste of time.'"

The scattershot approach does build awareness, he admits. "It's like the Mr. Whipple commercials. You hated them but you know it's from Charmin."

-> Pre-written contributions

No unsolicited articles. You can approach them about writing an article for them, but they almost never publish something written by a vendor.

-> Becoming a regular columnist

"We are looking for columnists, but they're generally journalists. But that's not to say it could never happen."

-> Deadlines

Every pipeline posts stories every single business day, so deadlines are rolling. Submit your news when you have it.

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