Interview: Deborah Snoonian

Deborah Snoonian parlayed an engineering degree and consultant position into a column, and later a staff position, at Architectural Record. In 2006, she joined Plenty as managing editor, putting her expertise in green design to work. She spoke to PRWeek about the green magazine scene.

Deborah Snoonian parlayed an engineering degree and consultant position into a column, and later a staff position, at Architectural Record. In 2006, she joined Plenty as managing editor, putting her expertise in green design to work. She spoke to PRWeek about the green magazine scene.

PRWeek: What does your day to day work involve?

Deborah Snoonian: My title is managing editor, but I'm more of a senior editor/ deputy editor kind of a person. So I field pitches from writers, I either write, assign, and/ or edit stories-anything from feature stories that appear in the feature well of the magazine to service pieces that are in the back. Because I come from an architecture/ design/ engineering background, I am the Home editor. I'm in charge of picking out and assigning the green home that we do each month. So it's a pretty broad scope of things.

PRWeek: How do you envision the editorial mission of Plenty?

Deborah Snoonian:
The tagline is "It's easy being green." And what we hope to bring to readers [is] that spirit.

A lot of people think that to be environmentally friendly, they'll have to give up things in their lives, and it's going to feel like a sacrifice. What we're saying is that there are new products out there, new services and practices, that you can easily adopt into your everyday life.

We want to make those things really fun, accessible, and appealing because I think one of the things the environmental movement has suffered from has been this sort of negative rhetoric, where everything is bad news.

PRWeek: Has it been difficult keeping that space fresh, or is getting new material easy?

Snoonian:
In print, we're only six times a year, so at this point, we have many more good ideas than we have space to run them.

Our challenge is distinguishing what's a Plenty story on a given topic vs. what you might find in a newspaper or another magazine.

PRWeek: What are some of the most interesting stories Plenty has covered since you've been there?

Snoonian:
Well, we just did a story that we're getting a lot of nice response to, one called the "Plenty 20." We picked 20 companies that we feel are on the cutting edge of being able to make a serious impact in improving environmental quality.

In that same issue, there was a story about high-rise farming that people were really intrigued by, essentially the ability to grow food indoors in urban areas. In our current issue, we have a feature on how global warming is affecting the food supply in Africa.

One of the things that we have been doing consistently well, and that you're going to see an improvement on, is our coverage of fashion and style. We want to get across this idea that green living is not just for hippies. It's not just these stereotypical environmental types wearing Birkenstocks, eating granola, and the whole thing. We really feel like that image is very hackneyed and outdated. 

PRWeek: How competitive is the space that you're in?

Snoonian: We're the only ones that I know of that are doing [what we're doing] in print. Online, where we have anywhere from two to five new stories a day that are posted, there are other online publications like grist.org...We do a lot more news and commentary and timely things on the website, because that's where we can do them...We're not in the business of breaking news with the print magazine.

PRWeek: Any tips to PR people of how to best approach Plenty?

Snoonian:
The best way to pitch us, frankly, is by e-mail. If you're not hearing back from us within a couple of weeks, a quick follow-up e-mail is again the best way to touch base about that.

We work about six months ahead of time in terms of assigning, so right now, we're actually booked through August/ September.

Name: Deborah Snoonian

Outlet: Plenty

Title: Managing editor

Preferred contact method: deb@plentymag.com

Web site: www.plentymag.com

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