In a city like Los Angeles, it's tough to get an entertainment
client noticed. But the LA Times' Calendar insert is fast becoming the
go-to outlet for entertainment happenings. Craig McGuire reports.
The Los Angeles Times has cultivated its event listings section,
Calendar, into something of a must-read for many West Coast
Weekdays, Calendar is tucked into the paper's Style section. But the
Sunday version is packed full of features and reviews of a wide variety
of mass entertainment and high-brow happenings. While the entertainment
scene in LA is largely associated with movies, Calendar takes an equal
interest in high art, such as architecture and theater. The October 21
cover story, for example, featured composer Arnold Schoenberg.
"Located in Los Angeles, Calendar functions more like an industry
trade," says Andrea Kaye, senior media specialist at Golin/Harris
The index, located on page two of the Sunday edition, shows how the
departments are broken down: movies, theater, performing arts, arts &
architecture, and pop music.
On weekdays, Calendar editors are short on time, and even shorter on
patience as publicists often blindly pitch the first person that picks
up the phone. Once you get through, however, the benefits of a feature
can be enormous. Calendar coverage has the advantage of coming with
information such as contact details.
"I have pitched them several times with varying results," says Carl
Dameron, media relations executive with The Financial Relations
Board/BSMG. "They will always ask you to e-mail or fax a pitch to them,"
says Dameron. "Have it ready and send it while you are talking to them.
They hate you to call back to make sure they got it, so if you e-mail it
to them while you are on the phone, you can review the pitch right
Staff members and reporters that contribute to the section are clearly
listed in the section headings. For example, Christopher Reynolds is the
Times staff writer on art, while Robert Hilburn is a pop music
Covering so much ground, Calendar section editors are often difficult to
get on the phone. That doesn't mean they're unreachable, but just make
sure you're prepared. Also, marking your envelope with your subject
category helps, as that will direct it to the proper editor.
High-quality photos can also help sell your listing, and make sure to
have a full media kit prepared. If the focus of your pitch isn't
obvious, make sure to connect the dots. "Lead with your strongest
artist, and make sure they know why it is important to their
readership," explains Dameron.
"The more popular the artist - or unique or large the event - the more
likely they are to be interested."
It also helps to be a bit inventive. Golin/Harris' Kaye explains her
tactics in dealing with reporter Susan King on the DVD release of
DreamWorks' Galaxy Quest: "What we did was draw attention to the
Thermian language track feature," she says. (Thermian is the alien
language created for the sci-fi film.) "Because the language angle was
so unique and unusual, (King) did a story on it."
Donn Pearlman, senior managing director of ITQ-Minkus & Dunne
Communications, works with the Calendar Weekend (Saturdays) edition
three times a year on behalf of the Long Beach Coin & Collectibles Expo
It's a public event, featuring about 2,000 dealers who buy and sell rare
coins and other items, such as sports memorabilia.
"The first thing any publicist must keep in mind when making an approach
is that the staff is absolutely swamped with pitches to cover the event
of the week, month, or year," explains Pearlman. "From fine art
exhibitions to children's violin concerts to hot-dog-eating contests,
they have literally thousands of listings to compile each month. It's
not an easy job."
Publicists can help their own cause by clearly indicating the basics:
name of event, dates, times, admission fees (if any), and pubic contact
names and numbers.
"You might be surprised at how some PR people, in a misguided effort to
try and be clever, actually make the editors and staff guess what the
event is about by not clearly indicating the basic facts early in the
press materials," says Pearlman.
"Finally, whether your submitted item receives full-color, front-cover
coverage, or merely a brief calendar listing in the back, always send a
thank-you note to the editor and staff member responsible for getting it
into print," adds Pearlman. "They did you and your client a favor, so
show appreciation with a handwritten note of gratitude."
For submitting event listings for Calendar Weekend or Sunday Calendar
event listings, items must be received at least three weeks prior to the
LA Times Calendar
Address: 202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: (213) 237-7770
Fax: (213) 237-7630/4712
Art writer: Chris Reynolds (staff) and Suzanne Muchnic
Music critic: Mark Swed
Pop music critic: Robert Hilburn
Times TV staff writers: Lee Margulies and Dana Calvo
Dance critic: Lewis Segal
Theater writers: Mike Boehm (staff) and Don Shirley