MEDIA PROFILE: Fortune - it's where world business and rock 'n'roll converge

Known for its thorough reports on the world business climate,

Fortune has a softer side that appeals to the regular Joes of business.

But that doesn't mean it's an easy pitch for PR execs. Claire Atkinson


Such is Fortune magazine's influence that when the editorial staff picks

companies to be part of its annual lists - Most Admired, Fortune 500, 50

Most Powerful Women - the credit is guaranteed to end up on company

press releases ad infinitum.

For PR execs, knowing the dates of such well-read issues is as essential

as remembering your mother's birthday. For those still in the dark, the

Most Admired edition comes out February 4, the Fortune 500 hits on April

15, and 50 Most Powerful Women arrives every October 14.

Beyond such vaunted issues, Fortune offers business wisdom, which is not

an easy task with so many companies suffering from economic turmoil.

For the November 26 edition, the Time Inc.-owned title looked to the

"smartest people" to define what comes next.

The result is a Vanity Fair-style gatefold cover graced by the likes of

Madeleine Albright, Michael Eisner, and AOL Time Warner boss Gerald

Levin (for which the magazine took some flack, given his status as its


The cover story, "The New Future," asked these luminaries and others to

suggest where the country is headed next, and was put together by deputy

managing editor Rick Tetzeli, who says the team has gotten used to

throwing out its advance planning.

Tetzeli, who grew up in Milan, Italy, and was a book editor before

joining Fortune, says very little content is generated by PR pitches,

but that there are ways of making your client more attractive.

While Fortune is not quite ready to let the cult of the CEO die with the

tech downturn (there are numerous CEO Q&As on the subject of September

11), Tetzeli admits, "The CEO idea has a lot less strength than it used

to. We are looking for people at all levels of the company."

PR execs are most likely to find their pitches falling in either the

beginning or end sections of the 330-page biweekly magazine. "First"

carries behind-the-headlines stories about subjects such as Jac Nasser's

exit from Ford. Fortune reveals that former Treasury Secretary Robert

Rubin, an advisor to the automaker, played a role in Nasser's


The section has a variety of bite-size columns, complete with the e-mail

addresses of the departments (editorial bios of reporters and editors

are also available online from the magazine's website). "First" includes

a "Hot and Not" section, as well as an intriguing piece on the voice of

voicemail in "Great Questions of the Day."

Fortune also dedicates space to items on law, business, and

entertainment, alongside the front-of-book columnists such as Stanley

Bing, who most PR veterans know. (For those who don't, we're not

spoiling the party, but he's a communications pro.)

Grand sweeping themes such as globalization are tackled in the features

section, well before the closing section "The Advisor," which carries

smaller items on technology, investing, and careers (one item in the

November 26 issue is about six sets of brothers who all achieved the

title of president at $10-million-plus companies).

Tetzeli explains, "Mostly, what we like to do is build a story around

unique characters - new people doing interesting things. That usually

gets more attention than product stories."

A final piece in "The Advisor" section features corporate rock 'n' roll

bands, including the group run by Fortune's own managing editor Rik


"We edit this magazine for people who are serious but have a sense of

humor, who work hard and play hard too," he writes.

In terms of pitching, reporters are much more open to calls in the week

when Fortune isn't printing (the magazine goes to press every other


Asked when Tetzeli decides what's going in the magazine, he replies,

"Every day at 10am."

If you have no success with the US edition, it's worth remembering there

are Fortune sibling editions in Europe and Asia. The international

editor is Robert Friedman, whose pieces often get picked up abroad.



Address: Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, NY 10020

Tel: (212) 522-7514

Fax: (212) 522-7686 (letters)


Managing editor: Rik Kirkland

Deputy managing editor: Rick Tetzeli International editor: Robert


Senior editors: Elizabeth Fenner, Henry Goldblatt, David Kirkpatrick

(internet and tech), Andrew Kupfer, Peter Lewis (personal tech), Cait

Murphy, Daniel Roth, Vera Titunik, Erik Torkells, Nicholas Varchaver

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in