MEDIA PROFILE: Strong attention to detail goes long way at Information Week

As other hi-tech titles fall, Information Week remains prominent because of its thorough reporters and loyal readers. And, finds Andrew Gordon, PR pitches will only work by showing a true grasp of both.

As other hi-tech titles fall, Information Week remains prominent because of its thorough reporters and loyal readers. And, finds Andrew Gordon, PR pitches will only work by showing a true grasp of both.

With more and more hi-tech publications crashing and burning like the dot-coms they once covered, Information Week remains one of the most widely read publications in the hi-tech industry, also making it one of the most sought after by PR pros. With a circulation of 440,000, and a readership of 1.46 million, the magazine focuses on business innovation and the technology that makes that innovation happen. The magazine is coveted by CIOs, IT managers, business managers, and IT pros seeking in-depth analysis, news, research, and perspectives on business-technology trends. With recent closures of Forbes ASAP and Upside, along with other business titles such as Smart Business and The Industry Standard, the opportunities for PR pros to place a good tech story are diminishing. Which means hi-tech PR pitches need to be tailored not just to Information Week's audience, but also its staff of writers and editors who don't have time to deal with blanket pitches, or pitches for technology it doesn't cover, such as consumer electronics. The magazine's audience is a mix of "business technology buyers and decision makers," says editor Stephanie Stahl. It's not just those folks that implement and use the technology, but also the C-level executives who want to understand why they need the technology their IT managers are asking for, and what the value is to the company's goals and bottom line. Information Week is divided into numerous sections, some with self-explanatory names such as Infrastructure, Software Tools, Business Processes, and Leadership. Other sections include Follow the Money, which delves into venture capital, research and development, and emerging technologies. Techonomics looks at macro-economic issues and the impact of technology, while Front End takes a lighter spin on news and trends. The best way to pitch these sections is to contact the beat reporter directly, says Stahl. Those reporters can be found in the magazine as well as on the website, which provides an extremely detailed beat list. Aside from the beat list, the About Us page also provides access to the magazine's editorial calendar. From there, a "hotline" link provides detailed descriptions about upcoming stories, and who is writing them. "Our reporters favor e-mail pitches, and many prefer live conversations," says Stahl. "The most successful pitches come when the PR person does a customized pitch. They understand our readership, and the reporter. They have customer references ready for us, someone who is doing something unique or innovative. Our readers like to hear about their peers, and how their peers are using a certain technology." As for lead-time, that depends on where PR people want the story placed. Because the website is updated daily, "every day is a good day for a pitch." But since the magazine is weekly, and gets put to bed Friday morning, there is very short lead-time for print content, with the exception of larger features planned in advance. "We want the most timely, relevant news," explains Stahl. "Two weeks [lead time] would be a lot." As for exclusives, "we like them, but we don't like to sign NDAs," says Stahl. With the web changing how quickly people get news, signing such a deal could stifle Information Week's ability to report news, particularly against competitors such as InfoWorld and eWeek. "Your message must be targeted to their audience - C-level execs who try to use technology to impact productivity," says Jeanne Talbot, Lexmark's PR and communications manager, who uses Information Week to convince IT managers and CIOs of the impact printing has on their bottom lines. "Customer references are critical. You must provide data. They like statistics and information that can be referenced." And what makes Information Week worth pitching in the end is the time and resources it dedicates to research. It surveys readers quarterly about business and technology priorities, to help keep an eye on emerging technologies and to better develop its editorial agenda. Susan Diegelman, an account manager at SheaHedges Group, is working with Information Week on a story about Plateau Systems, a developer of learning management systems. Calling reporters often works better than e-mail, she says, as the writer she is working with receives about 200 e-mails a day. And what enabled Diegelman to catch the writer's attention was proposing a story that crosses two beats - workforce development and transportation. And to make sure the right kind of pitches keep coming, Information Week also hosts "editor days" around the US, and talks with PR pros so they better grasp the editors' and readers' needs. ----------- Contact list Information Week Address 600 Community Drive, Manhasset, NY 11030 Tel/fax (516) 562-5000/562-5036 Web www.informationweek.com Editor-in-chief Bob Evans Editors Stephanie Stahl, John Foley (print), Rusty Weston (web) Senior executive editor John Soat Executive features editor Chris Murphy Executive news editor Jennifer Zaino Senior news editors Robin Gareiss, Paul Travis

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