SUMMARY: PRWeek (13,000 US readers) has a new Editor-in-Chief now that former Editor Jonah Bloom moved to AdAge. Meet her and get her suggestions on how to plant a story about your firm or clients in PRWeek magazine.
Julia Hood Editor-in-Chief PRWeek 114 W. 26th St., 3rd floor New York, NY 10001 phone: (646) 251-2613 editorial fax: (646) 638-6110 Julia.Hood@prweek.com http://www.prweek.com
The tabloid-sized weekly magazine has 13,000 US readers who pay $148.00 per year.
65% of readers are client-side corporate communications and investor relations pros. The other 35% are agency execs who may pass their copies on to multiple junior AEs.
-> Hood's background:
At first Hood wanted to be an actor. After getting a BA in drama from the University of Connecticut, she left for the stages of the UK. Once there however, acting became a hobby, as she became more and more involved in corporate communications. After a couple years researching and freelance writing for Mobil and BAT Industries, she returned to the US to go to NYU’s Journalism School.
Right after J School Hood found PRWeek, which she describes as the “perfect fit.” She started covering health care in 2000, later covered technology, and in August of 2002 was promoted to Editor in Chief, when previous editor Jonah Bloom moved to Ad Age.
-> Current editorial coverage:
Since Hood took the helm she has worked to continue the shift in focus begun by Bloom. “He instigated our move away from account wins and people moves to really taking on the management stories, best practices, and research. That has meant a more thoughtful, serious look at the industry, both internally and as a PR agency business. Now we highlight the best ways to run a PR agency or department, the best work out there, and the greatest campaigns. That shift has increased our readership enormously.”
“What sets us apart from other publications is that the major media don’t cover PR very well,” Hood says. “Even the Wall Street Journal (arguably the best business coverage in the world) does not take PR seriously. It still uses terms like ‘spin doctoring’ to describe PR. The reality is, PR is a much broader profession than the way it’s defined in the media.”
Aside from its must-read employment classifieds, PRWeek lavishes 20 or more pages a week on news, tactics, and trend articles on everything from classic media relations to crisis communications, community relations, public affairs (A.K.A. lobbying government officials), entertainment industry publicity, tech and healthcare PR, etc.
Internet-based communications are a growing part the coverage, especially since the Web now dominates most media relations, as well as much of customer and community relations. Plus, every PR department must monitor brand-related discussions on related message boards and chat rooms.
-> What Hood looks for in a story pitch:
“We look for real innovation,” Hood says. “If an agency is starting a new practice area we want to know why it’s different, why it serves clients in a new way. If it’s a PR department we’re interested in the minutiae of how they operate. So, if they effect an organizational change of their global PR team, that is of great interest to us.”
“We’re looking for more of the ‘why,’ what drives the story, the campaign, the change in leadership in a PR department or agency, what drives the launch of a new practice area, how PR is increasing its relevance across the board, as well as how is PR not meeting those challenges.”
“It’s not just writing love letters to the PR agency, we’re critics and advocates.”
Hood is happy to talk to people about their pieces but start by sending an email first. For news stories email: firstname.lastname@example.org and for features email: email@example.com.
“Press releases are a big turn off,” says Hood. “It’s a tool of the trade and it has a very important function but pitching PRWeek with a press release is not the best way."
"It has to do with exclusivity. Releases denote a general broad circulation, and we think we are quite specific to this industry. So, rather than sending something that goes on the wires and to other organizations, any pitch should be crafted to PRWeek. We want to see stories with depth for the PR industry and that won’t come through clearly in a release.”
For an editorial calendar email firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your name, title, and reason for your request.
Tuesday is the best day to pitch because that is when PRWeek has their news meeting. The issue closes each week on Thursday at noon, and is officially published the following Monday.
-> Submitting pre-written contributions:
“A good place to reflect your point of view on the PR industry is the Thought Leader section.” (Note: Its name is changing soon to Op-Ed).
The best candidates for the largely unedited 750-word piece are typically high-level professionals from the corporate and agency sides. Hood notes, “The most important factor isn’t a person’s level, but whether you have a strong point of view on an issue of importance to the industry,” says Hood. “If you can support a strong case it doesn’t matter if you’re an AE or a SEP.”
Typical topics might be whether global PR teams should be organized centrally or regionally. Your item may also be observational. Hood says, “We recently had a good one about how PR/Meet the Media events are basically insulting because of the lack of preparation on the part of some of the reporters, that some reporters write off PR as an annoyance rather than a tool of the trade.”
These contributions should be emailed directly to Hood.
-> Becoming a regular columnist:
Right now the opportunities are not great. There are two regular columns, a back page column about Hollywood publicity and Paul Holmes’ weekly contribution.
In the future there may be more for more columnists. In that case, the best approach is not with how-to stuff. “That’s what the technique section covers,” Hood says. “A good way to catch my eye is with a thoughtful, strategic perspective.”
-> What Hood looks for in an online pressroom:
Three things: Phone numbers, names of PR contacts, and all the recent press releases. “If I read about it on PR Newswire, Business Wire or CNN it should be on the web site that same day,” says Hood.
“Cisco does a fantastic job. All of the product line PR people and corporate people are identified by name, phone number, title. Everything is so easily accessible.”
-> What Hood looks for in printed press materials:
“An aversion to cliché, they just make your brain fry,” Hood notes.
“It would behoove a lot of people in this industry to read other press releases so they might see how not to write a press release. What they think is very original approach to tackling a topic is actually very cliché.”
“Press releases should be written like a news story. The first line should tell you everything you need to know about all the detail that follows.”
-> Where you can meet Hood:
If you are in New York, call Hood to arrange a breakfast or coffee. She also goes to PRSA events, Council, Arthur Page Society, and most media events in the area.
-> Hood's favorite professional publication:
The Wall Street Journal in print, the Financial Times, and the NY Times.
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