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