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Mar 19, 2004

PR Interview: How to Pitch the Editors of PROMO Magazine

SUMMARY: 31,000 top marketing execs get PROMO Magazine and/or its companion email newsletter. We interviewed Editor Pat Odell on how you can plant a story about your services or company with them. She's unusual in that she likes to get phone calls from potential sources.
Pat Odell
Managing Editor
PROMO Magazine
11 River Bend Drive South
PO Box 4949
Stamford, CT 06907-0949

-> Reach

PROMO Magazine: 25,300 subscribers
PROMOXtra: 31,000+ subscribers

Readers consist of presidents and CEOs, VPs of marketing and promotion, brand and marketing managers, and agency executives.

-> Odell's background

Odell graduated from New York University's School of Journalism, then began her career as an intern at the Stamford Advocate, a daily newspaper covering 5 towns in southern Connecticut. She worked there for another four years as a reporter, before joining Primedia.

Odell joined PROMO as managing editor in March 2003. Prior to that she was the news editor of sister publication DIRECT magazine and editor of DIRECT Newsline for more than five years.

-> Current editorial coverage

"We cover promotion marketing as a strategic, measurable component of the overall marketing mix," Odell explains briefly.

Coverage includes winning case studies, analysis of trends, strategic insights, people profiles, and how-to information, touching on a variety of different tactics: sweepstakes, contests, premiums and incentives, event marketing, sampling, licensing, and entertainment marketing, to name a few.

Breaking news is covered in the twice-weekly newsletter, PROMOXtra and at the magazine's home page.

-> Best way to pitch Odell

Odell is one of the few editors we've spoken to who appreciates it when a PR person picks up the phone and calls. She offered some tips on pitching her by both email and phone.

o Email

--Send a press release in the body of the email and as an attachment. Make sure the info in the release is relevant to the audience, and current. "We don't want something that happened six months ago," Odell says.

If you're pitching a case study, it's okay if it happened in the not-too-distant past, but you must be willing to share results.

--The release should get to the point quickly and should never be longer than a page. "It has to catch our attention in the opening sentences, just like a news story would," Odell says.

--The subject line should make it clear what's included. "It doesn’t have to be fancy or engaging or funny," Odell says, "just get the message across."

Don't have the subject line read "press release," or she may not even open the email. Instead, write "case study," "new product on the market," "new VP of marketing just hired," or something else descriptive.

--Understand that the staff receives hundreds of pitches. "The one that comes in that's interesting, different, current, and has a news peg to it is something that will catch our eye," she says.

o Phone

--Though many editors like when PR people start their phone pitches by asking if the editor is on deadline or has a moment to talk, Odell prefers that you introduce yourself and get directly to the point.

--Know the audience and the magazine, understand what you're pitching, and go for it.

--Don't read from a "script" or from the press release.

--Use phone calls to build a relationship with her. "I think it's good for a PR person to pick up the phone and make a phone call, because those relationships really can make a difference," she says. "A PR person can earn the trust of an editor, and in many instances, the editor knows that when that PR rep calls they're going to have something interesting to say."

You can also pitch stories to Editorial Director Kathleen Joyce, at

-> What Odell looks for in a story pitch

Odell wants to know that you're willing to share details of a story. If you're pitching a campaign story, for example, she will want to know the budget, how many pieces were distributed, what the response rates were, etc.

Same thing with deals: "People make a big deal that so-and-so bought so-and-so but they often don't like to disclose the terms of the deal. It loses a bit of its oomph when the numbers aren't all there."

-> Pet peeves

Pitches that offer art available upon request. "Include the art or the photo if you have it," she says. Otherwise, she has to take the extra step to go after it.

Also, press releases that arrive without contact information. "It happens more often than you would think."

-> What she looks for in printed press materials

"Really, email is the way to go."

-> Deadlines

For the newsletter that goes out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can call or email right up until late the day before. "It's our breaking news vehicle and we'll take news up to the last minute," she explains.

As for the magazine, try to get stories to her at least six weeks in advance of the pub date.

-> Where you can meet Odell

She's open to getting together either at her office or during trade shows with people who feel they can offer her insights into the industry. She often meets people at their offices as well.

Either Odell herself or other members of the PROMO staff attend most of the big marketing and advertising conferences.
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