March 09, 2007

PR Interview: How to Get Into Business 2.0 Magazine

SUMMARY: Every month, 8.3 million unique users access, an umbrella for four sister sites, one of which is Business 2.0. We interviewed Business 2.0's Assistant Managing Editor, Jeffrey Davis, to find out the best ways of getting into the publication.

Jeffrey Davis
Assistant Managing Editor
Business 2.0
1 California St., 29th Floor
San Francisco, CA, 94111
Fax: 415-293-5910

Circulation as of Dec. 31, 2005
Average paid circulation: 633,772
Individual subscriptions: 602,307
Percentage of total average paid circulation: 95%

The typical reader
“The majority of them are men,” Davis says. 72.1%, to be exact. “It’s an entrepreneurial-minded business person”; 64.1% hold managerial/professional positions. “We have a lot of high-level executives [39%] “and a lot of mid-level managers and engineers [35%]. The one common thread that we hear about is that they all have a self-starter streak in them.”

Median age: 47
Median household income: $109,000
35.2% have postgraduate degrees
69.7% have at least a bachelor’s degree
70.8% work full time
82.2% own their residences
68.8% are married
34.3% have children under age 18
76% see themselves as solution-oriented
54% choose Business 2.0 to learn about innovative ideas unique to the magazine

Davis’ background
Davis has worked on every single issue of Business 2.0 since its inception in early 1998 when the first prototype of what was then called eCompany came out. Before that, he was an editor at Harper’s, Esquire and Mother Jones magazines. In 1995, he produced a documentary ‘The American Promise.’ He also has written freelance articles that have appeared in periodicals, such as The New York Times Magazine.

Davis was one of the founding editors of Imagine Media. In his spare time, he likes to take his sailboat out on San Francisco Bay. His favorite reading materials include The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal.

Current editorial coverage
Access Business 2.0’s editorial calendar here:

Examples of sections:
- What Works: Key strategies redefining the business landscape catered mostly to small businesses; “how-to management stories, eureka moments.” These pieces tend to be anywhere from a half-page to three-page stories.
- What’s Cool: Two-page spread on consumer gadgets, such as the first truly waterproof cell phone on the US market.
- Workplace: Highlights a company that has some neat cultural happening, such as a special kitchen or a concierge service for employees. Features some sort of interesting technology, program or initiative that a corporation has used to make the workplace fun.
- Feature Well: “It’s pretty rare that pitches have any bearing on feature stories because they are just different animals. They take a long time to plan out. They are usually based on a bunch of different leads that a reporter is pursuing. But, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.”

Examples of features:
Startup Ideas
- The 100-million Giveaway has run for two years in a row, revealing venture capitalists’ ideas about what they would fund for $100 million. The reporters hit the streets of Silicon Valley to get answers from enthusiastic self-starters. Investments included lithium-ion battery with five times the life of currently available ones, space rocket and implantable wireless device capable of 24/7 patient and data monitoring.
- The International Issue that comes out every August features innovations by entrepreneurs from other countries. Business 2.0 reports on cutting-edge foreign business initiatives that entrepreneurs in the US could learn from.

Didn't buy the latest issue of Business 2.0? Page through a digital version at:
(Hint: if you want to see other issues, just change the year and/or month in the URL)

What Davis looks for in a story pitch
“Know where to aim your idea before you fire it.”
#1. The key is to target the idea to the correct part of the magazine. Awareness of the different sections of Business 2.0 is the most important factor in creating a successful pitch. Before sending the pitch, think about what section is relevant. If it is targeted at the right section, it will get somebody’s attention. “All the editors are constantly looking for ideas. But, if you are faced with a deluge of general ideas, those tend to go nowhere.”

#2. Davis suggests that the best way to pitch is to show off in the subject line of your email that it’s an appropriate idea for that editor’s section. He reveals the magic formula for a subject line to make sure a story pitch gets read: it has to be specific and relevant. For instance, “Management Idea for Your What Works section,” “Tech Idea for What’s Next”. “It will get read because I need those exact things," Davis says. "You may be a freelance writer; you may be a PR person and I will use it anyway.”

#3. Make sure that you keep your word. Davis warns, “The caveat is -- if you constantly disappoint me, whereas you promise the idea for ‘What’s Next,’ but then the content of the pitch really doesn’t fit, I might start to delete your emails. Don’t make it a bait and switch; don’t make it a tease.”

#4. What not to do (or how to avoid the delete button). Davis was gracious enough to find an example of a bad pitch. He didn’t have to look long; one was sitting right in his inbox. It read, “To whom it may concern: Please see attached press release about how much revenue [a certain company] is expecting from [a certain release]”. “The boiler-plate press release subject line is a sure way to get the attention of our junk-mail filter.”

Send your pitches at least two months in advance.

Printed press kits
Davis ignores these relics of the past. “They’re like newspapers; they’re on their way out. Have I ever needed one as an editor to finish the story? No. As a reporter and writer, I would occasionally glance at one to pick up a fact or two.”

What Not to Send Business 2.0 Editors (besides printed press kits)
Sending “schwag”: junk, promotional trinkets, such as coffee mugs with a logo on it is a mistake. “I don’t know what research ever shows that that stuff works,” Davis says. “In an age of increasing environmental awareness and concern, it’s not only wasteful, but it’s being noticed as being wasteful.”

He remembers a well-known company making a big deal about how they are working hard to reduce the carbon footprint. “They FedExed five editors here promotional junk in a box inside of another big box, and they are literally across the street from our office. It doesn’t make any sense, but a lot of corporations consider this part of smart necessary PR. Smart publications will see it as a complete turn-off.”

Meeting Davis
Davis would take a lunch or a breakfast meeting, but he will pay his own way. “It’s a matter of basic ethics. I wouldn’t be opposed to meeting anybody. I am always interested in meeting people and getting new ideas.” In addition, you can find him at some main conferences. “We always go to the consumer electronics show.”

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