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Jan 12, 2007

PR Interview: Pitching ANA's The Advertiser Magazine

SUMMARY: 25,000 members of the Association of National Advertisers read this bimonthly 15-year-old publication. We asked Editorial Director Ken Beaulieu how you can be featured in an upcoming issue. Redesigned by The Pohly Company for the ANA, The Advertiser brings key trends, issues and best practices to client-side marketers.

If reaching senior-level decision makers of top brands, such as Coca-Cola, sounds appealing, then this interview is for you. Also see how to pitch novel feature articles and contribute to various new departments of The Advertiser.
Contact information
Ken Beaulieu
Editorial Director
The Advertiser
The Pohly Company
99 Bedford St., Floor 5
Boston MA 02111

Beaulieu’s background
Ken Beaulieu started his journalism career as an intern at The Boston Globe. After working as a reporter for The Lowell Sun and The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune newspapers, he held positions as Communications Director at Killington and Sunday River resorts. Ultimately, he returned to publishing and has been with Pohly for 10 years. Now, Beaulieu oversees all of the company’s publications for a variety of big brands. In his spare time, he runs and reads his favorite publications, The New Yorker (“well written, comprehensive”) and Runners’ World.

The Advertiser’s circulation is 25,000. The audience consists of leaders in their respective industries -- presidents, executive VPs, chief marketing officers, brand managers and chief financial officers. Or, as Beaulieu puts it, “the Procter & Gambles and the AT&Ts of the world.” 58% of the magazine’s readers are in the marketing and sales industry.

Current editorial coverage
The Advertiser lends a hand to professionals who are looking to reinvent their approach to creating brands and increasing revenues. The magazine’s readers are the first to learn about marketing trends that it predicts so accurately. The publication currently has 10 departments, and it offers four to five features per issue. The articles are centered on the ANA’s four pillars: brand building, integrated marketing, marketing accountability and marketing organization.

Samples of features/departments
- Around the ANA -- news, statistics, quotations, charts, events calendar
- Media Trends -- unconventional strategies of traditional media
- At the Scene -- photos from ANA conferences
- Ask the ANA -- Sr. Director Kathleen Hunter answers member questions
- Final Say -- ANA member offers first-person account of challenges
- Focus on Advocacy -- Daniel L. Jaffe’s article on regulatory issues

Pitching The Advertiser
If you would like to meet Beaulieu, he suggests informational interviews for those in the Boston area and New York ANA conferences. Otherwise, pitches have to be emailed three to four months in advance and specific to one of the ANA’s four pillars.

“I am looking for trend stories in each of those categories, relevant case studies and research,” he says. “The editorial calendar is a moving target depending on what’s happening at the time, so we do make changes. It’s always good to check in periodically. If it’s a pitch that blows me over, I’ll typically get back to them right away, but I still feel that a follow-up call is important.”

Also, make sure to look at the editorial calendar and to read the magazine so you understand the tone of the publication. Studying the magazine will help you avoid pitching articles that wouldn’t be of interest to The Advertiser’s readers. “Too often you get queries that have really no business being in the magazine -- story ideas that are not related to the publication,” Beaulieu says.

Contributing to The Advertiser
The articles for the department sections tend to run around 1,000 words; the feature stories -- anywhere from 1,200 to 2,500 words. The magazine pays no less than a dollar a word and, depending on experience and the assignment, they’ll pay more. Also, The Advertiser reimburses a little more for the features than for the departments.

They also accept peer-to-peer articles. If you don’t see your story right away, don’t get worried. “A lot of times I will hold articles that I know we will be doing in the future that I think will be a nice tie-in to have that different perspective,” Beaulieu says.

Currently, The Advertiser is not looking for any regular columnists. “I try to mix it up from issue to issue,” he says.

Ideas needed in the following departments
1. Multiculturally Speaking: offers tips on reaching diverse cultures. “We always try to target a different cultural audience. We’ve done a piece on African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans.”

2. Marketing Technologies: focuses on the role technology plays in helping marketers better measure success of their programs, which is becoming increasingly important. Beaulieu emphasizes return on investment. “They are spending all these marketing dollars and there is software that will help them better understand that. We feel this is a really emerging category.”

3. The Bottom Line: provides advice on ways that marketing professionals can address the issue of profitability and runs in half of the issues every year. It instructs those in charge how to manage their budgets.

Magazine’s redesign
When Beaulieu took over The Advertiser, his first goal was to get away from the themed issues, such as an issue on agency-client relations. “We wanted to cover those topics, but in every issue. That’s why we came up with a better structure for the magazine. All of the articles were peer-to-peer. We introduced having professional journalists write the articles and do a little more comprehensive work. We will quote ANA members, as well as outside experts to have a little more balanced coverage.”

In addition, the new team overhauled the design for the October 2006 issue. “It seemed to be stuck in the 1970s, so I brought it up to speed. The graphics were dated. They didn’t use much professional photography. We are commissioning art and graphics.”

Sidebars are another useful feature The Pohly Company added. They introduced Next Steps boxes, such as: For more information on this topic, visit the ANA’s comprehensive Web site for members. They usually run at the end of the story and suggest to the reader what to do after reading the article.

The team also presented a little short box called Best Practices -- three to four bullet points based on the story that summarize the key learnings on the topic if you don’t have the time to read the article.

Last, they brought in the ANA member case studies in a question-and-answer format. The feedback (via phone or email) has been overwhelmingly positive. “We’ve broken into some new categories on the advertising side, which has been nice. There is a good buzz out there now.”
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