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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Sep 05, 2008
Interview

PR Interview: Pitch Your Tech Products to Wired Magazine’s ‘Gadget Guy’

SUMMARY: Wired is a monthly print and online magazine read mostly by educated, affluent men with a passion for business, technology, and design. Want to put a certain tech product in front of their eyes? Find out what gets the attention of Wired’s top ‘gadget guy': Joe Brown.
Contact Information

Joe Brown
Associate Editor
Wired Magazine
520 Third Street, Ste. 305
San Francisco, CA 94107
415-276-5000
Joe_Brown(at)Wired(dot)com
http://www.wired.com/


Background

Brown writes about innovative gadgets for Wired’s Test section. His editorial interests include everything from Bluetooth-enabled motorcycle helmets to gamer-friendly laptops. Brown joined Wired about two years ago after editing Popular Science’s What’s New section for three years. He was a forest ranger, an auto mechanic, and a line cook while studying at Cornell University.

Circulation

Wired sells 706,494 subscription and newsstand copies each month. But its total audience is estimated at 2.6 million readers – or about four readers per copy.

Reader demographics:
- Median household income: $82,912
- Median age: 35
- 73% are male
- 48% are college graduates
- 46% are married

Editorial Coverage

Wired says it explores the people, ideas, and technology that are reshaping the world. The magazine’s most recent cover story assesses the future of the electric car. Inside are articles about a photographer who uses X-rays to capture images, a video game designer who will fly to the International Space Station as a tourist this year, and the Dallas Cowboys’ new technology-laden football stadium.

How to Pitch

Brown receives 400 or more emails per day. Many are story or product pitches that he won’t read unless they come from someone he knows. Here are some do’s and don’ts for joining Brown’s circle of friends and colleagues.

o Do: Give advance notice

Wired has a three-month lead time, which means the staff works on content three months before an issue goes to print. But Brown likes to have up to six months of lead time. He’ll often call a contact at a company in June to find out what they’re launching at a major gadget conference in December, for example.

Want to impress Brown? Give him at least 3 months notice for the launch of a new product.

o Do: Make it exclusive (for Fetish only)

Each Test section has a Fetish area that profiles the most lust-worthy gadgets and technology. If you want to pitch a worthwhile product to Fetish, no one else should have written about it. Product pitches for other Test articles, such as roundups, don’t need to be exclusive.

o Do: Subscribe to the magazine

Reading Wired online doesn’t count, says Brown, because the website includes plenty of stories not in the magazine.

“You’re not going to have an idea about the product and story creation we do for the magazine,” he says. Reading the physical magazine also gives a better idea of who writes what in each section; it allows further tailoring of pitches to the right people.

Pitches do get passed around until they land in the right place – for the most part. But knowing who to pitch really helps.

o Don’t: Ask Brown to meet your CEO

Brown’s answer on meeting a CEO will almost always be “no” – unless he has developed a relationship with your company over the years. He generally doesn’t need to be in contact with the CEO. He’d rather be in contact with the publicist or the person who answers his email in three minutes.

o Do: Get the right source on the phone

Brown doesn’t need to hear hype-infused jargon. So, setting up an interview for him with the VP of marketing, for example, who might only spill pre-constructed sound bites, won’t interest him. In fact, it might make Brown ignore future pitches from you.

“I need a deeper, technical understanding,” he says. “And I need the information in a timely manner so that I can be first...I want the guy who built the product.”

Brown generally wants to talk to a few people from the company to get a well-rounded view of products he writes about. This can include the engineer, product manager, publicist, and company president. Be sure you can get these people to speak meaningfully to Brown before pitching a product.

o Don’t: Pitch a product that’s not innovative

Brown doesn’t mind getting pitches for off-the-wall gadgets. “If you think it’s right for Fetish, if it’s new and cool, then do it,” he says. “But if you pitch me on a business card scanner for Fetish, I’m not going to read your email next time.”

Fetish needs products that are new or interesting or do something different. If it’s a black box router that doesn’t do anything new or exciting, he doesn’t care about it.

o Do: Put 'For Fetish' in the subject line

Brown looks first at an email’s 'From' line. Then he looks at the subject line to see if he should open it. If the subject line has the words 'For Fetish', the email has a good chance of being opened.

o Do: Attach the press release, but don’t cut and paste it

After the subject line, Brown scans the first few sentences of email pitches. If he sees a cut-and-pasted press release, he is likely to quit scanning and move on. Brown only uses press releases as background. So, attach or provide a link to the press release.

It’s much better to write a few sentences telling him why he should consider your product. That will get his attention. He doesn’t want to read 45 lines to get a sense of what you want.

“For me, the way a relationship is built is if you reach out to me for one of your products and you’re able to deliver in a timely manner - the product image I need for photography, the right people I need to interview - and you work with my research department,” Brown says. “Then you’re a valuable person to have in my rolodex.”

Where to meet

Brown attends trade shows. He will meet you there, or in his office, and at other offices. If you’re in San Francisco and you have a tech product you want to show off, just email him. If he’s free, he’ll do it. If not, he’ll refer you to one of the five other gadget guys in his office.

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