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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Aug 06, 2004
Interview

PR Interview: Top Database Marketing Journalist Seeks Story Sources

SUMMARY: As a contributing writer on the topic of database marketing for DM News, Direct, and Target Marketing magazine, Arthur Hughes is always looking for a new angle. In particular, he likes story pitches that include charts and graphs. More info on how to reach and impress him:
Arthur Hughes Founder of the Database Marketing Institute and contributing writer for DM News, Direct, and Target Marketing, among others 2100 S Ocean Drive Suite 16A Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 954-767-4558 Arthur.hughes@kbm1.com http://www.dbmarketing.com/

-> Hughes' background

With a Masters degree from Princeton, Hughes has been involved in the marketing industry since '78. He founded the Database Marketing Institute in '93, which provides education and research in the field of database marketing. He has written three books for McGraw Hill and numerous articles about marketing and economics.

Hughes currently writes for trade magazines including DM News, Direct magazine, and Target Marketing, for Web sites including CRM Today, Catalog Age, and Marketing Competence, and for newsletters including the DMA Bottom Line.

After they appear in the original publications, all of Hughes' articles are also then published on the Database Marketing Institute's Web site.

Currently he is Vice President/Solutions Architect at KnowledgeBase Marketing in Richardson, Texas.

-> Current editorial coverage

Hughes writes about database marketing, with favorite topics including customer acquisition, customer retention, customer reactivation, and cross selling.

And he's not at all picky about the types of industries he covers. "A lot of people think the industry is key, that you can only write about auto or health," he says. "But all industries have the same group of buyers, so something that works in health may well work in insurance or outboard motors."

Banks, credit card companies, insurance, manufacturing, hotels, travel, and restaurants have all been good fodder for his stories. "One industry where it doesn't work is packaged goods," he says. "You can't build a success story with Crest Toothpaste." But supermarket, he says, is a great field.

Because you're not pitching a particular publication, you have a wider range of topics and angles to take with him.

-> Best way to pitch Hughes

Call or email. "I take it any way I can get it," he says. Once he hits upon an interesting story idea, he'll pitch it to the appropriate publication or Web site, then tailor the story to the specific publication's needs.

You don't need to worry about whether he likes follow-up phone calls. If he is in town, he'll get back to you the same day.

His articles also tend to include charts and graphs, so send 'em if you've got 'em.

-> What he looks for in a story pitch

"I'm looking for things where there are tests and controls, for something interesting in the world of database marketing where they can prove something worked because there was a control where it didn't happen," Hughes says.

For example, he wrote a story that included a campaign done by a company that had a control group and test group of 600 each. Customer service made phone calls to one group, "just to make friends," Hughes says, and after six months of calling, sales to that group was $2.6 million more than to the control group that didn't receive phone calls.

Another "wonderful story," he says, was about a company that made outboard motors. "They had a program for marketing that involved giving away a gallon of oil, and they did a tremendous job of getting people to buy."

The unusual thing about the stories Hughes is looking for is that they don't have to be about something tremendously innovative. "It can be just a regular thing," he says -- but you have to be able to prove that what you've done has had some impact.

"If you just say, 'We mailed to 10 million people,' that's not very interesting. If you say, 'We mailed to 10 million people and got a six percent response,' well, that's more interesting. If you say, 'We mailed to 10 million people, got a six percent response because we did X and before we only got a four percent response,' now you're hitting the pay dirt area."

-> What he looks for in online press rooms

If you direct Hughes to your online press room, make sure you have information beyond "we're a wonderful company and we have wonderful products."

"I love case studies," he says, as long as you have specific results to share.

Two nice things to bear in mind: --Hughes doesn't insist on talking to the client of the campaign -- the marketing or PR contact works for him.

--Blind case studies are fine. "There was a company called Summit Marketing in St. Louis that had an insurance client that they couldn't mention, but they gave me good details on how they increased response rates by modeling and gave me a chart that explained how the model worked," he explains. "I couldn't mention the company, but it was still a great case study."

-> Pet peeves

Don't give him gobbledygook (his word) such as: “We leverage our core competency to shape our best practices paradigm to meet the stakeholders' goal sets.”

-> Favorite professional publications

DM News, Direct magazine, and Target Marketing

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