If the opulent lifestyle ever had a monthly guidebook, it is Robb Report. To say the glossy, ad-heavy publication that bills itself as the magazine "for the luxury lifestyle features expensive goods is like saying Stradivarius made some nice fiddles.
For instance, the June 2002 issue includes a review of the best business jets. The Boeing Business Jet 2 stands up well, yet it is with remarkable detachment that the writer glosses over the aircraft's master bedroom, two bathrooms complete with showers, and its dining and exercise areas.
Nothing to gush over here - just the least-painful air travel the airplane manufacturers have developed so far.
A few pages deeper into the same issue, another writer describes the offerings at a gourmet Parisian restaurant as "genius at work, where the food "is absolutely the best available in the world. Needless to say, superlatives are never in short supply at this title.
Robb Report editors have whittled down their basic requirement for considering product pitches to an informal maxim. "If we can afford it," says editor Larry Bean, "it ain't getting in."
And judging from a skim of some recent issues, those who can afford such a lifestyle represent the thinnest top layer of the upper crust. In Robb Report, where most articles are product or service reviews, the automobiles are likely to be limited-edition Italian sports cars, the boats will resemble mini-luxury liners, and the clothes will be costume tailored and carry four-figure price tags.
"Our CEO describes our core reader as 'someone who enjoys celebrating his or her wealth,' says Bean.
A 2001 Robb Report readership survey reported that the publication's readers had an average annual personal income of $1.1 million, with average assets of $4.4 million.
While the readership's mean age is 43, opulence apparently breaks down generational barriers, as readers are spread liberally throughout the age brackets. Twenty-eight percent of Robb Report's readers fall below 34 years of age, while another 33% are over 50.
Circulation stands at about 100,000, with most copies disseminated via subscription. Readership is highly concentrated on the coasts, with a substantial number of readers within the New York tri-state area, California, and Florida.
Among Robb Report's major coverage areas are autos, boating, aircraft, golf, travel, dining, wine and spirits, cigars, clothes and jewelry, home and design, electronics, and art. All sections are open to ideas from PR pros, and Bean estimates that about half of all Robb Report stories come from pitches.
The best way to pitch is by e-mailing a department editor. Each department editor is listed on the masthead along with his or her e-mail address.
Bean says pitching editors is always a better bet than pitching writers.
"Since editors make all decisions on what gets in the magazine, it makes more sense to contact them, says Bean. "By pitching a writer, you're going to add another filter because your chances will now depend on how well that writer pitches your pitch."
Curtco Media purchased the magazine last year, and the new publisher is mulling over a possible change to the publication's current editorial calendar. Currently, every issue has a theme. "There might be a reevaluation of what themes seem to work, and which might need to be altered a bit, says Bean.
Some of the magazine's most successful themes have been December's annual gift guide, and June's "Best of the Best issue. Other themed issues could be tinkered with, according to Bean.
Pitches should be made three to four months ahead of an issue's debut.
"Anything less than three months, and it better be really good, says Bean.
He also says exclusives can be key to coverage. "I love exclusives, " says Bean. "If we are given an exclusive, it can influence how much coverage we give something. If we have a great product that we know no one else has, then there is a strong possibility it'll get some real play in the magazine."
Bean says the magazine does not usually cover mass-market products or items. He also says taste plays a large part in the editorial process.
"We look for things that are tasteful and exhibit great craftsmanship," says Bean. "For instance, we wouldn't be interested in the ruby-encrusted answering machine. It may go for $100,000, but we're never interested just because of its price tag."
Address: 1 Acton Pl., Acton, MA 01720
Tel/Fax: (978) 264-7500/264-7502
Editor: Larry Bean
Senior Editors: Deedra Allison (Home Entertainment, Business & Finance,
Tech); Karyn J. Bilezerian (Travel, Food, Wine, Spirits); Laurie Kahle
(Watches, Jewelry, Fashion, Fragrance/Beauty)
Associate Editor: Fluto Shinzawa (Autos, Boats, Motorcycle, Aircraft)