Peter 5: Rich Thomaselli, Advertising Age

Have you joined my incredibly non-annoying, once-in-a-while email newsletter?

Thanks, Rich!

1) Give us a very brief overview of you: What you like to work with, favorite types of stories, what you’re always on the lookout for, and as important, what you can’t stand.

After almost 20 years in the biz, I’m like any other reporter: I’m competitive, I like to land the scoop and I still get a thrill out of seeing my name attached to a great story. I like stories that, some how, some way, effect change. Stories that make a CEO or CMO think about how it affects THEIR business. I’m always on the lookout for those types of pieces. Can’t stand? Drivel. You’re breaking a new campaign? Great. So are dozens and dozens of other marketers across the country in a given week. It’s not “hot news” to us THAT you’re breaking a new campaign. It’s hot news if there’s a why and a how that make it completely different.

2) What can a publicist do to make sure he or she helps you out, and increases his or her chances of coverage with you?

Know our book, know our audience. And even if you don’t know me, know what I do and what I cover. Hell, even call me up or drop me an e-mail when you DON’T have something to pitch just to say hello, introduce yourself, we’ll probably be working in the future so I wanted to touch base, blah, blah, blah.

3) What can a publicist do to truly piss you off and guarantee you’ll never cover any of their clients ever again?

No.1, lie. Don’t give me the gray, give me the black and white. Something is either true, or it isn’t true. It’s either yes or it’s not. Don’t tell me your boss is “unavailable” to comment to me, but then I see his or her quote in another publication the next morning. I’d rather you tell me to go shit in my hat. At least I’d know you were being honest. And at least I’d have a chuckle for the day πŸ™‚

No.2, re-pitch. Jerry Seinfeld spun a whole episode about “re-gifting.” I could write a book about re-pitching, my own term for a publicist who calls me up to pitch this ‘great’ story * the same story I just read about elsewhere. If you’re going to give a publication (mine or anybody else’s) an exclusive, that’s fine. But don’t call me up with the hard sell about something that’s already out there.

4) If a publicist wants to pitch you, what should he or she be watching and reading before hand, other than your stuff? What are your favorite things to watch and read outside of your stuff?

My main beats are pharmaceuticals, sports marketing and travel/tourism. So watch the news. I can’t make it any simpler. There’s always something going on in my beats. America West and US Airways just merged. A day after the announcement, I got an e-mail from a publicist suggesting I talk to so-and-so about how the marketing plans of the new merged airline will play out once everything goes down. THAT’S what I love: somebody who is topical enough to be on top of the news and then tie it in to what I do.

As for moi, well, I watch The Wiggles on the Disney Channel because I absolutely need to understand what my 4-year old is talking about πŸ™‚ I read Sports Illustrated because I love my profession and I love to read great writers. I read Darren Rovell, the sports business writer on, in part because we compete but mostly because he’s a brilliant reporter. I read Christopher Rowland, who covers healthcare for the Boston Globe, for the same reason. I read Mike Vaccaro in the NY Post I read 6 newspapers a day (3 on the way in to the city on the train, 3 on the way home) because I feel like I HAVE to know what’s going on with everything, whether it pertains to me professionally or not. Basically, I read.

5) When’s the best time to contact you? The worst times? And how? Email? Fax? Postal Mail? Phone?

any Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday is fine. E-mail and phone are best. I don’t even know where our fax machine is in this office. Thursday is a heaving writing day; Friday is the day we put the book to bed. Don’t even think about those two days unless it’s an exclusive or even break that I can do to my boss with and tell her to re-design Page 1. Otherwise, call me. We’ll do lunch πŸ™‚

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