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Sep 12, 2003

How to Get Your Site Reviewed by Larry Chase's WDFM

SUMMARY: 43,000 readers get WDFM (Web Digest for Marketers) every week to learn which are the coolest and most useful marketing-related sites to visit. If you want Larry to feature a link to your site, read on...
Larry Chase
Web Digest for Marketers

-> Reach

43,000 subscribers

-> Chase's background

Chase came out of Madison Avenue as a copywriter, working for large, big-budget type agencies like Young and Rubicam. He started with packaged goods ("boring"), got into high tech ("interesting"), and followed that high tech road straight to the Internet."I did my first online campaign in 92 for AT&T," Chase says. "It had an incredible response, which was very exciting, and that's when I realized that the Internet was the place to play ball."

-> Current editorial coverage

In short: Web Digest for Marketers is a weekly newsletter
featuring "mercifully" short reviews of marketing Web sites.

Editorial coverage changes as the industry changes. "About once a year there's a new nuance," Chase says. "When we started covering the Internet, we could cover every new marketing Web site that was out there in each issue."

But now that "a lot of stuff has happened and we can't cover everything," he's had to get very selective. For every site reviewed, 10 are rejected.

The newsletter has some special focus issues in categories such as:
-pay per click marketing
-customer acquisition
-best of marketing calculators on the Internet
-online shopping (typically covered at the beginning of each Christmas season)
-competitive intelligence
-search engine marketing

In all, about 35-40 categories of Web marketing are covered each year. Remaining issues focus on seasonal things that are happening, the "best and the brightest," or what Chase calls "surf and turf" (simply covering the waterfront).

-> What Chase looks for in a story pitch

"If you come to us and say, 'We've relaunched our Web site,' nobody really cares," he says. "There must be something really in it for reader."

Think of what is of interest to the reader here, and bear in mind that the job of a newsletter is to keep the reader engaged. "It's fairly rare that people really get that," Chase says.

(And by the way, he suggests that you think about the readers not only when you're pitching him or other journalists, but before you design the site. He describes it this way: "A Web site is like the youngest child in the family, always wanting attention.")

Let him know about sites that offer utility to marketers --and make sure you read the publication, because that's the first question he's going to ask. "If they haven't invested enough time into reading the newsletter, we're not going to invest time in looking at their Web site. They should know their angle and how to approach us."

-> How to pitch Chase

Send Web site suggestions to Here's how:

Check out the Coming Attractions at the beginning of each Digest which mentions the focus of the next few issues. Then send a pitch that reads something like this:

"Hi, Larry. I noticed in the opening comments of the last
newsletter that you have a special focus coming up on competitive intelligence. My company (or my client) is in that space and has a site I'd like to bring to your attention. The value to your readers is a, b, and c. Is this of interest to you?"

That's a perfect pitch, Chase says. "It tells me they read the newsletter. Then it tells me that for a particular issue they've got a site they think is worthy of consideration, and in a sentence or two they tell me the value proposition for my readers."

(Here's how Chase himself cultivates relationships with
journalists: "When I see or hear of something I think is of interest to a journalist, I send it saying, 'Saw this, thought of you,' in the subject line. I give the URL, say 'Hope you enjoy it,' and I'm outta there.")

He offers a few other tips:

- Be proud of what you're pitching and be enthusiastic.
- Tell it to him in half a minute.
- Talk fast and don't call all the time.
- Let him know in the subject header what's coming in the email.
- Writing "press release" in the subject line, or including attachments, is shorthand for "delete me."

-> Pet peeves

1. When he asks if they read the newsletter, people who respond, "Me, personally? No, I don't." That doesn't make him feel particularly warm and fuzzy toward them, he says.

2. Boiler room PR operations, what he calls, "smiling and
dialing," or people obviously reading from a script.

"Why would anyone listen to that?" he asks

3. People who write "a novel" in an email, "assuming I'm going to read 800 or 900 words of explanation."

4. Email pitches where the first paragraph is personalized, but the rest of the email is a blanket pitch.

5. People who don't clearly identify themselves or their agenda at the beginning of a phone call. "Sometimes I say, 'Please state the purpose of your call,'" he says. "What I suspect sometimes is they're not fully behind what they're pitching, they're going in circles trying to sort of land in without being noticed."

-> Becoming a regular columnist

He doesn't have regular columnists, but he will use contributing editors from time to time. He's looking for, "Gurus with honest-to-God lots of experience in a category," he says. "They have to be writers, have experience, and know the resources in their category."

He's always open for suggestions on special issues: but be aware that if you're going to write it, you're probably also covering the competition.

-> Prewritten contributions

He doesn't accept them.

-> Where you can meet Chase

He goes to AD:TECH, the Jupiter conferences, and IAB, among others.

You can also call to take him to lunch, which he does
occasionally, but to be honest, he doesn't like the obligation --unless it's something near and dear to his heart, something he finds irresistibly fascinating. Those stimulating topics include:
- New angles to bring traffic to Web sites
- Technology side of email marketing
- Search engines (new tools, like AdSense)
- How consultancies differentiate themselves from each other

-> Favorite professional publications

"I read everything," he says. The list includes: DM News, Direct Magazine, and Ad Age in both print and email versions; CRM Guru; Circulation Management Magazine; and "the Sherpa stuff."

He also likes ClickZ, and enjoys Hoovers' newsletters. "They do a hybrid of online stuff and also what's going on in the traditional world. They're really good."

-> A final word (or, How to turn a bad pitch into a good pitch)

This is true, Chase swears: A woman from a PR agency called to pitch him on something and when he asked her, "Do you read the publication?" she said, "No, I don't. Can you hold on so I can put the phone down and smack myself?"

That cracked them both up, she ended up subscribing, and though the site she was pitching at the time wasn't a fit, Chase has covered a couple of her other clients since then.
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