MEDIA PROFILE: A fast guide to your working life. Fast Company is an irreverent companion for the modern worker. Claire Atkinson looks at this rapidly growing title

Fast Company looks like lifestyle magazine Wallpaper, reads like an online advice column and is described by its founders as ’Harvard Business Review meets Rolling Stone.’ Established only two years ago, it’s certainly a mixed bag - but it stands alone among business titles.

Fast Company looks like lifestyle magazine Wallpaper, reads like an online advice column and is described by its founders as ’Harvard Business Review meets Rolling Stone.’ Established only two years ago, it’s certainly a mixed bag - but it stands alone among business titles.

Fast Company looks like lifestyle magazine Wallpaper, reads like an

online advice column and is described by its founders as ’Harvard

Business Review meets Rolling Stone.’ Established only two years ago,

it’s certainly a mixed bag - but it stands alone among business

titles.



The monthly magazine was created by two former Harvard Business Review

editors, William Taylor and Alan Webber. They wanted to chart the

changing world of work in a way that none of the existing business

titles - Fortune, Business Week, Forbes - were doing.



Rather than filling the magazine with the usual CEO profiles and

foolproof profit models, they decided to take a more irreverent

approach, designed to appeal to the worker in the cubicle and the home

office. In fact, the kind of title that might be appreciated by the

Scott Adams cartoon character Dilbert. They wanted to show how

individuals were making a difference inside a vast range of

organizations, from schools to police departments to factories.



Fast Company is very much ’how-to’ journalism, a tradition that has

grown up with the Internet. Features have included a piece by management

guru Tom Peters on coming up with a ’wow!’ project, and a guide to

planning effective meetings.



It’s also a fun read. A paragraph on top of the corrections reads: ’We

work fast at Fast Company - sometimes a bit too fast ... Here are the

corrections.’



The column ’Consultants Debunking Unit’ pokes fun at management

philosophies. One target was the 100th monkey theory, which posits that

when you put 100 monkeys together, the first to learn something teaches

the others. When 100 monkeys start behaving differently, others start

replicating the action without being directly taught. Not a difficult

concept to satirize.



Though highfliers are certainly applauded, the magazine also champions

those who maintain a healthy balance between work and leisure.



The magazine, backed by media magnates Mort Zuckerman and Fred Drasner,

captures the spirit of the times. It was named launch of the year by

trade titles Advertising Age and Adweek in 1997. Though there are no

revenue figures available, it claims circulation of 325,000 and has a

growing number of supporters around the world.



This so-called ’Company of Friends’ exchanges ideas on new ways of

working via the Net. There are around 17,000 members in 150 local

’cells’ from Auckland, New Zealand to Washington, DC. Members are

involved in discussions of the socio-cultural effects of work and act as

a problem solving support network.



Managing editor Michael Slind explains its popularity. ’Work, for better

or for worse, is a part of life. The founders sensed a change, with

digital technology and generational changes in attitude. That was their

success.’



Readers feel they have a connection with the magazine because of its

personal tone. Most covers feature the word ’you’ very prominently. The

cover of one best-selling issue looked like a box of detergent with the

tag line: ’How to create a brand called ’you.’’ Slind adds: ’In many

cases the business climate is about you. People are working on their

own. We are here to help the individual, that unit of one.’



Slind explains that the magazine looks for ’advice stories and big

ideas.’ People are hungry, he says, for big ideas. The title also has

company profiles, but these are based on innovative business practices

and the availability of good photo opportunities.



One example was a piece on a store called Central Market, which treats

shoppers to on-the-spot cooking lessons and provides a chef school.

Shoppers who order food in the cafe are given pagers to let them know

when their food is ready.



’Do you have a work place that looks exciting and yields new lessons?’

asks Slind. ’We are interested in companies doing things

differently.’



Central Market’s director of sales and marketing Nona Evans says the

piece came about through the magazine’s knowledge of the store and PR

support material. ’Their reporters are a pleasure to work with and have

a refreshing style of developing stories,’ she comments. ’They focus on

bringing the people to life and have a fresh perspective on the world of

work and the kinds of tools that make it adaptable.’



There are plenty of other opportunities for pitching to Fast

Company.



The Network section is the most likely to consider product stories. It

includes short book reviews, details of courses and a leisure

feature.



The section, edited by Bill Breen, also includes a section called Power

Tools, which looks at everything from software to gadgets.



Staff writers, freelancers, their subject areas and their e-mail details

are listed at the end of articles. But grasping the essence of Fast

Company requires some reading. Staff writer Lisa Chadderdon always asks

PR pros who pitch her if they have read the magazine.



’You’d be surprised how many say no,’ she says. But she admits that it’s

difficult to explain what the magazine is about, adding: ’It’s just an

instinct you get.’



She says the best method of contact is e-mail, while the worst type of

pitch is via mass circulation fax. The editorial staff don’t give a fax

number for the office. ’Fast Company is very different from most

magazines.



The best approach is to suggest an idea for a certain column, say why it

might fit and why it should be featured,’ says Chadderdon.



The reporting team is around 20 people and because the title is not news

driven there are few specific beats. The founding editors, Webber and

Taylor, are very hands on, crafting ideas and stories.



There are 10 issues a year, each planned more than three months in

advance, with double issues appearing during the summer months. The team

is about to add a new quarterly tech supplement in September called Net

Company.



Perhaps Fast Company’s location may have something to do with its

ability to take a step back from the turbo-charged business environment.

’We are not in New York - we are in Boston - so we’re not involved in

the New York lunching scene,’ says Slind proudly.



CONTACT LIST



Fast Company 77 North Washington Street



Boston, MA



02114-1927



Tel: 617 973 0300



PR pitches to: content@



fastcompany.com



e-mail: firstintiallastname@



fastcompany.com



Web: www.fastcompany.com



Founding editors



Alan Webber



William Taylor



Managing editor



Michael Slind



Senior editors



Bill Breen - Network



Polly La Barre - Report from the Future, Unit of One (executive

profiles)



Associate editors



Gina Imperato - Power Tools, @ Work, Report from the Future



Anna Muoio - In the Loop (letters)



Heath Row - @ Work (advice about work), In Gear.



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