February 16, 2007

PR Interview: How to Pitch a Story to Ad Age

SUMMARY: 280,000 marketers -- the majority of them client-side -- pay to get Advertising Age every week. Plus, hundreds of thousands more look at the Web site. Check out our exclusive interview with Editor Jonah Bloom for advice on how to build a relationship with his reporting staff that might result in valuable coverage. Includes useful email addresses, phone numbers and one really big no-no.
Jonah Bloom
Advertising Age
711 Third Ave.
New York, NY 10017-4036
Phone: 212-210-0281
Email: jbloom(at)crain(dot)com

Paid print subscribers: 280,000 readers
Total weekly audience: 712,000+ advertising, marketing and media pros

Ad Age has three main types of readers:
- Marketers, such as Coca-Cola, Nike and McDonald's
- Agencies (advertising, media, direct, PR) that service those marketers in their efforts to connect with consumers
- Media owners or licensees who aggregate audiences and enable those marketers to deliver their messages to consumers

Why you would want to be featured on AdAge.com
- 52% of site users are in advertising and marketing management
- 80% visit the site once a week or more
- In March 2006 (the last audited month), the site received almost 2.5 million visitors
- In the third quarter of 2006, the site averaged 400,000 unique visitors per month (and it’s the slow quarter)
- As of March 2006, the site’s weekly visitors’ average was 153,498

Bloom’s background
Bloom went to Oxford University, where he studied geography, “a fantastic subject for a Jack of All Trades like me. I'm interested in everything, but don't know much about anything.” He is still fascinated by many of the subjects he studied, particularly the way capitalist systems shape the world, the degradation of the environment and the evolution of urban and rural landscapes.

After college, he became a business reporter for a local publication and then held positions at PrintWeek and Accountancy Age. Bloom later became the founder and editor of Campaign Media Business and the founding news editor of PRWeek, a national weekly he went on to become editor at.

He became editor of Ad Age in 2006. He describes the magazine as “a great multiplatform publication, covering industry in rapid evolution or even revolution.” Bloom respects the reporters, editors and designers he oversees. They’re also “good people to chat and drink with.”

Current editorial coverage
Ad Age is a tabloid weekly covering business-to-consumer advertising in all major media, with a focus on what the client side wants to know. “If it has anything to do with marketing or media, it might be our story.” TV advertising is still a mainstay of Ad Age coverage, but digital media and marketing continue to grow in importance.

The publication also covers consumer trends and research insights, product design and brand experience, new advertising or communication tactics and interesting ways of measuring media and marketing.

Bloom enjoys looking at management structures and discovering new ideas. Recent articles with his byline include The Wall Street Journal redesign and Bank of America’s unfortunate rendition of U2’s ‘One.’ Check out his colorful writing at http://adage.com/columns/

Web vs. print
“The beating heart of the Web is breaking news, the news archive, readers’ comments on stories, video and audio reports and several strong and regularly updated blogs,” Bloom says.

Ad Age subscribers can find print content online. The digital edition also offers the ability to search content of each issue by keyword, as well as the use of the highlight and stickies features to make comments and note reminders. The digital edition is also available on Sunday afternoons before the print edition is distributed on Monday.

The magazine is continually evolving. It lets people know key news events of the week and provides insight and analysis, useful case studies and keen ideas. One distinguishing feature of the print version is its entertainment value. “These days you've got to try to take a print offering beyond just news, because news is being commoditized by the Web,” Bloom explains.

What Bloom wants in a story pitch
Bloom looks for signs that the person actually subscribes to Ad Age or at least has checked out the site and read a couple of stories.

“I look for someone who's going to be able to facilitate the process -- i.e., put the CEO/CMO on the phone right away -- rather than someone who is sending out a blanket release and clearly has limited knowledge of what or who they're talking about. What's the point of PR if it can't operate on that one-to-one level?”

Seven suggestions for pitching Ad Age
#1. Don’t email a generic pitch. Find out which editor/reporter covers your niche by contacting Matthew Kinsey at 212-210-0281 or mkinsey(at)crain(dot)com
#2. Don’t follow up with telephone calls to ask if your release was received
#3. Check the editorial calendar (contact Chanel McFadzean at 212-210-0246 or cmcfadzean(at)crain(dot)com to request a copy)
#4. Send news releases and letters to the editor (print edition) to Judy Pollack at jpollack(at)crain(dot)com
#5. Email Hoag Levins regarding online content to editor(at)AdAge(dot)com
#6. Submit opinion pieces for the Forum to Jenny Rooney at jrooney(at)crain(dot)com
#7. Get to know a reporter by asking him/her to a breakfast/lunch meeting

Special Reports
Ad Age publishes a series of special reports throughout the year, such as Live Marketing, Women to Watch and Power Players. You can see the complete calendar at: http://mediakit.adage.com/advertisingageonline/pdf07/AAcom2007SpecialReportsOnline.pdf

If you see something you or your client might be a fit for, contact Special Reports Editor Mike Ryan at mryan(at)crain(dot)com about two months before the planned
publication date.

Although Bloom claims that their deadline is “all day every day, Monday to Friday,” we happen to know that the magazine's editorial deadline is close of business Friday. So, the earlier in the week you can get your story in, the better. Also, Ad Age’s editors and reports are more likely to have free time for chatting or meetings early in the week. Don't bother them when they're stressed on deadline Thursday and Friday.

Contact Bloom
The best way to reach him is by email. His replies vary -- sometimes, they are instant, sometimes they take days or weeks; it depends on his travel schedule. If you want to increase your chances of being heard, make an effort to email Bloom specifically, as opposed to “clearly hitting me with a one-size-fits-all press release, which I really don't think we should be expected to respond to.”

Reader-generated content
“The more the merrier.” Bloom loves hearing from readers -- they hugely influence how he does his job. Don’t be hasty, however. Make sure that the publication is interested in your topic before writing an article. That’s why Bloom advises against submitting prewritten contributions. Instead, he suggests pitching an idea for a piece to one of the following people. This way, you will know for sure that your work will get published.

Ideas for viewpoint pieces for the CMO Strategy section go to Jenny Rooney, jrooney(at)crain(dot)com and letters go to Ken Wheaton at kwheaton(at)crain(dot)com. Of course, you can leave comments on most of their stories, columns or blogs at http://www.adage.com

Becoming a regular columnist
Although Ad Age boasts fantastic columnists already, they would consider other voices. It comes down to the person's stature, skills and ideas.

Where you can meet Bloom
He is a very accessible editor. “I do a lot of panels, and I'm often willing to do a quick coffee to meet with people. I try to get out as much as possible.” If you really want to track him down, check out the events calendar at http://mediakit.adage.com/events/

Bloom's favorite publications
He enjoys Slate, BBC.co.uk, Wired, Business 2.0, The Wall Street Journal, Guardian Unlimited and National Geographic Adventure. “I'm also a total sports journalism whore –- I just love reading endless punditry and pontification on pretty much any sport you care to mention.”

How to avoid the biggest mistake
Do not send Bloom a press kit unless you want to incite rage. “I'd like to never, ever see a press kit again. I mean, who still uses that [blank]? Next, you'll be asking me which window I like my carrier pigeons to arrive at.” We think he is bloody right.

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