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Thanks, Matthew, for taking the time for Peter 5!
1) Give us a brief overview of you – What you like to write, favorite types of stories, what you’re always on the lookout for
Because I cover the agency beat for Advertising Age, a lot of PR types assume I’m only interested in stories about ad agencies and the TV spots they make. In fact, the editors here at the magazine typically look askance at run-of-the mill campaign stories. For us to write about a marketing campaign—ads, direct or PR—it has to have something new to say about the marketer’s business strategy and challenges, whether that means an increase in spending in certain mediums, use of a new technology and so forth. We’re not in the business of doing PR for advertisers. There are two kinds of pitches I want to see more of: more stories about specific case of how technology is impacting marketing and more about direct marketing and customer relationship management. My overarching goal is to understand how the changing media environment—the proliferation of new mediums—is changing marketing.
2) What can a publicist do to make sure he or she helps you out, and increases his or her chances for coverage with you?
First and foremost, a publicist has to understand what Advertising Age is and that is a magazine about marketing. We write about major consumer marketers and the agencies that serve them in all disciplines. The second most important thing for a publicist is to be able to deliver in a timely fashion on promises in terms of interviews with executives, creative materials, facts and figures, etc. The last is not trying to micromanage coverage. Part of the value of what PR people do for clients is that the pitches, like so much luggage through an x-ray machine, is screened. Of course, I happen to be looking for bullshit, not bombs. It’s important to deal with the fact that the story I write isn’t going to come out looking your press release.
3) What can publicist do to truly piss you off and guarantee you’ll never cover them or any of their clients again?
In truth, it’s tough to make a blacklist stick for publicists. I don’t say that I won’t deal with a PR person who burns me by, say, lying, but I will say that one who does won’t be getting any breaks.
4) What’s your favorite stuff to read? Magazines? Other papers? (Apart from your stuff, obviously)
I’m pretty conventional. The Wall Street Journal is my bible, and I read all of the other national papers. I read Slate almost every day and blogs with a marketing or communications focus, like Steve Rubel’s MicroPersuasion. I regularly read The New Yorker, Wired, The Week, Fortune, PRWeek—where I used to work—the Atlantic, Harper’s. I’m a fan of an indie music website called Pitchfork Media. And I love Cool Hunting. As for books, I’m now reading two, both non-fiction: Kurt Eichenwald’s Enron tome “Conspiracy of Fools,” which reads as briskly as a novel, and “Random Family,” a marvel of immersion journalism about growing up in a drug- and violence-soaked Bronx neighborhood.
5) When’s the best time to contact you? The worst? Day and Times?
I’m on deadline at various points throughout the week, so this is a tough one. If you’ve got a burr under your saddle to get a feature story in the next issue, you have to get me on Monday or Tuesday. We close the current issue on Fridays, but Thursday and Fridays are hit or miss in terms of how busy I am. Sometimes I’m underwater, sometimes I’m planning for the next week and open to pitches. You just have to call to find out.