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Mar 02, 2007

PR Interview: How to Get The Wall Street Journal to Write About Your Company

SUMMARY: Want to get your company name in The Wall Street Journal? We interviewed the Journal's Media & Marketing Editor and learned five tips to keep in mind when pitching their editors. Plus, how to build a personal relationship with a reporter that can lead to more coverage down the road.
Richard Turner
Marketing and Media Editor
The Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty St.
New York, NY 10281

Circulation as of 3-31-06
US print: 1.71 million
Global print: 1.88 million
Online: 765,000

Turner's background
After he graduated from Harvard University, Turner helped found Metropolis, an alternative weekly publication. Later, he worked for Sport magazine, Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, TV Guide, New York magazine and Newsweek. He also covered entertainment business for the Journal in 1989.

In 2000, he became an executive editor and New York bureau chief of The Industry Standard. He rejoined the Journal in 2001 and has held his current position since 2004.

A few insider tidbits about Turner
- He did graduate work in cinema studies at New York University.
- His favorite publication is No Depression, a bimonthly magazine “surveying the past, present and future of American music.”
- He doesn’t go to conferences or do lunch/breakfast meetings. “I don’t get out much,” so you probably won’t have a chance to get to know him.
- His biggest pet peeve regarding PR pitches is “not bothering to do homework about our coverage.”
- The best way to contact him is via email. Don’t send specific pitches -- those should go to the reporters.
- He prefers letters from readers who wish to share their insights/opinions.

Current editorial coverage
Key categories are advertising (what’s working and what’s not), media (in-depth story analysis), entertainment (Joe Morgenstern’s movie reviews), marketing & strategy (latest news from Madison Avenue). Turner also provided more specifics:

- Television -- cable, broadcast and satellite
- Book, newspaper and magazine publishing
- Sports
- Large NY-based media companies, such as News Corp., Time Warner and Viacom
- Consumer products (Procter & Gamble, etc.)
- Cosmetics
- Tobacco, wine and spirits

Typical reader
26% have a C-level job title
54% are in top management
99% are college-educated
Average household income: $215,000
Average household net worth: $1.6 million
71% of households invest in stocks
39% own a luxury vehicle
99% research products/services on the Internet

Five suggestions on getting your name into the publication
#1. Don't email or otherwise contact Turner with your pitch. Instead, study the newspaper to learn which reporter on his team covers your specific area so that you can send an email directly to that person. Avoid bombarding multiple editors with the same pitch or release.

#2. Don't pitch a story that another major media outlet just ran. The Journal doesn't do stories just because they appeared somewhere else; your pitch will be canned. On a similar note, don't pitch a story that was already included in the Journal. Read the newspaper.

#3. If you are also pitching elsewhere, don't pretend that the Journal is the only media outlet you're contacting with an original story idea. Reveal to the reporters whether you are handing them an exclusive. Start with appropriate email pitches (inventive and fresh); when the reporter is ready to chat, s/he'll contact you. After you have built an established relationship, you may be able to call them directly.

#4. The Journal doesn’t feature businesses just for the sake of writing about companies. Your pitch should have a news hook or some creative idea behind it. “Every story needs a twist, a fresh thematic element that brings it beyond one narrow company or product,” Turner says. Don’t bother sending anything other than original stories breaking significant information. Since this is an international newspaper, the story has to have wide-ranging appeal.

#5. The same goes for stories about hot new ad technologies. It’s an overused term that doesn’t mean much to the newspaper’s savvy readers. Again, make sure your pitch focuses on something universally important.

Print vs. Web site
Print: Centers on “forward-looking analytical stories.” The paper doesn’t just describe what happened. It provides interpretation and forecast.

Site: Up-to-the-minute coverage, personalized news tracking, staff blogs and user forums. Briefing Books, company Quotes and Research section, offers complete information on close to 30,000 companies. Exclusive online content includes The Small Screen (the business of television) and Stat Snapshot (numbers and rankings analysis).

Other features:
- The Informed Reader: summary of reports from other media
- In Brief: summarizes key events in Media & Marketing
- The Wealth Report: every Friday, the paper peeks into the lives of the affluent
- Expanded Reader Response section
- Corporate Focus: offers news on companies that allow you to understand business trends

24 hours. For the US paper, the deadline is “late afternoon/early evening.”

Submitting prewritten contributions
Don't bother.

Becoming a regular columnist
Not a chance.

Printed press kits
Avoid them like the plague. “They always strike me as wasteful -- all that heavy paper,” Turner says, “and I can’t remember when I’ve ever gotten a story from a press kit.”

See Also:

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