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Nov 12, 2004

PR Interview: How to Plant a Story in Logistics Today

SUMMARY: 85,000 logistics pros in charge of buying supply chain software, tech, and services get Logistics Today magazine. Want your story to show up there? Editor-in-Chief David Blanchard tells us you've got a good chance if you can promise him a scoop. More how-to info here:
David Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief Logistics Today 1300 E 9th Street Cleveland, OH 44114-1503 216-931-9794

-> Reach


-> About Blanchard

Blanchard helped launch Logistics Today -- a Penton publication that rose from the ashes of Supply Chain Technology News and Transportation & Distribution -- last fall.

"It's a very active and volatile kind of marketplace that we follow," he says. "I enjoy doing it because it's tangible, and you can see that people come to the magazine to solve real-life problems. It's gratifying to know that people come to your Web site or your print magazine or read your enewsletters for specific information that they use to help them do their jobs better."

-> Current editorial coverage

The monthly publication covers news, trends, and issues that companies need to help with understanding, selecting, and deploying logistics and supply chain solutions. It includes stories on everything from technology and trends to transport issues, global commerce, and distribution.

Industries the magazine covers include: CPG, aerospace and defense, high-tech/electronics, durables, food and beverage, chemical/petroleum, retail, healthcare/pharmaceutical, automotive, apparel, and more.

About the state of the marketplace, Blanchard says: "There have been regulations coming out seemingly every week since 9/11 -- new manifests that have to be filled out and signed before your freight can come into the country or leave, regulations about truck drivers. Along with all that, there has been a lot of consolidation within the industry. So what that all adds up to is, when the economy started coming back and more goods were being ordered, transportation companies had more business than they [could handle]."

His readers, he says, are those companies trying to buy the transportation, the technology, the software, etc.

The magazine doesn't cover breaking news -- though it will offer analysis of the news -- but Blanchard publishes weekly electronic newsletters, and updates the Web content once or twice a day.

-> Best way to pitch Blanchard

Send him a "good and direct" email -- one which allows him to quickly see if you have the vaguest notion of what the magazine is.

If you do, you're likely to receive an email back saying a reporter will be with you soon, or "no thanks."

"I get back to anyone who's making a legitimate request," he says. "But if they don't refer to your magazine by name and you can see you've been blind copied with the same pitch going to five magazines, then I don't feel the need to contact them and tell them 'no.'"

Follow-up calls are okay.

-> What Blanchard looks for in a story pitch

Blanchard wants it to be obvious that you've looked at the Web site or magazine and that you understand his audience.

Check out the editorial calendar at:

Then pitch him a story or contact that fits in with upcoming content. For example: "I understand you're doing something on the railroad industry. I have three potential customers who use Railroad X; each of the three would be willing to talk to you, and here's a quick sentence on what each case study might be about…"

What he's looking for, ideally, is to hear from a company willing to share what their specific problems are, what keeps them up at night. A case study would look beyond why a company bought a piece of software or signed a contract with a parcel carrying company, to "What types of problems did you think might get better by using this product?"

-> Pet peeves

Give him a scoop, and your odds go up. "The really good [PR people] understand that press people like to have scoops, that they don't want their competitors to have the same article."

If Blanchard thinks he has a scoop and it shows up in a competitor's pages, he tends to not want to work with that company or agency again.

He also gets irritated with people whose pitches say something such as: Please run this in your next issue and let us know what page it's on.

"It's really sort of audacious," he says.

-> Deadlines

Two to three months out.

-> Prewritten contributions

Hardly ever. However, if you're a "consultant-type" with a high-level think-piece that's related to specific trends -- maybe Top 10 Things You Need to Know When Designing Your Warehouse -- he might consider it for a sidebar, if it's well written.

-> Becoming a regular columnist

"That's a tough trick," he says. "I don't envy anyone trying to get a regular column because most editors don't have the room. If they approached me, I would ask them, 'What would you offer that we don't currently have in the magazine?' Assuming they were actually able to pitch me something we weren't already doing and I'd like to be doing, I'd [ask for] six ideas for the coming year."

If the first one worked out, it might develop into a regular cycle.

-> Where you can meet Blanchard

"I go to a lot of conferences," he says, from logistics management to transportation to technology to warehousing.

If you want to meet with him at one of those, email him and ask for a meeting. He does "thousands" of meetings at shows, on a first-come, first-serve basis. He also leaves a lot of unscheduled time to walk the floor or for people who don't call ahead of time.

-> Favorite professional publication

The Wall Street Journal

See Also:

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