Interview: Karl Greenberg

Karl Greenberg has covered a wide variety of beats in his career, working as a drama critic and columnist for Showbusiness Magazine, as petrochemicals editor for Chemical Market Reporter, and as a tech reporter with Adweek.

Karl Greenberg has covered a wide variety of beats in his career, working as a drama critic and columnist for Showbusiness Magazine, as petrochemicals editor for Chemical Market Reporter, and as a tech reporter with Adweek.

Since 2001, he has worked at Brandweek, covering the North American car market.

PRWeek: How did you begin covering the car business?
Karl Greenberg: In 2000, I was writing for Adweek's IQ section, devoted to the booming internet marketing business and all its excesses. Then it stopped booming and the section folded. I got the choice of covering cars for Brandweek or hitting the bricks. It sounds ridiculous in hindsight, but I was considering the former option for a while because I knew nothing about cars.

PRWeek: Who is your audience and what do they want to know about?
Greenberg: Brandweek's audience is principally marketers, secondarily agencies serving them, and folks in PR, media planning, and an occasional finance person. People who read the magazine are frequently [reading] the stories for ideas, marketing partnerships with brands that appear to be complementary in some way, and, of course, scoopage on what the enemy is doing. I suspect that a guy working at Ford as a brand manager might pick up the office copy of Brandweek and take some interest in what Procter & Gamble is doing with their latest Snickers bar-flavored dog food. There are some universals in marketing.

PRWeek: What challenges have your various beats presented in terms of working with PR pros? Greenberg: The chemical-industry PR people were like Cerberus in Hades, or maybe cell membranes - keeping everything in, letting nothing out. The challenge was getting past them. Covering the internet, I was getting 80 calls a day from publicists. I find that PR folks in the auto business are generally helpful, know how to write a release, and don't call me unless it's important.

PRWeek: What is your biggest pet peeve about PR people?
Greenberg: One is the phone call from someone who doesn't know Brandweek and has "a great idea for a feature story on toilets." The other peeve is getting a call from someone promising an exclusive and then later, when it's written, saying, "Oh, by the way, I did mention this to Ad Age, but they said they weren't going to write anything at all about it."

PRWeek: The auto industry gets more specialized coverage than almost any other. Does that make your job harder?
Greenberg:
Yes. It makes it impossible. It turns it into a blood sport, a war. It makes my competition the enemy. It makes my blood seethe and my testosterone leak through my foramen magnum and stain my collar.

PRWeek: What's the best way to pitch you?
Greenberg:
E-mail if by sea, phone if by land. All right, e-mail if it's going on the wires, phone if it's exclusive and about a new marketing initiative that hasn't happened yet for: cars, boats, motorcycles, tires, oil, appliances, anything with a motor and wheels. Or low-cost Zoloft from Canada.

Name:
Karl Greenberg

Publication:
Brandweek

Title:
Automotive marketing reporter

Preferred contact method: kgreenberg@brandweek.com

Web site:
www.brandweek.com

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