If you’re in PR and you’re not pitching Web space Salon.com, then why the hell not?
If you’re in PR and you’re not pitching Web space Salon.com, then
why the hell not?
The site has become one of the most talked-about cultural destinations
in cyberspace. Stories such as the one on Henry Hyde’s extramarital
affair, published just before President Clinton’s impeachment trial, and
the more recent one on the federal government’s anti-drug messages in TV
shows have ensured that the site receives a daily eyeing by the
Those big stories have had such an effect on Salon’s traffic that
investigative reporting has become part of the brand’s soul. Managing
editor and co-founder Scott Rosenberg says that the site will be
dropping a few more bombshells in the next few weeks as it moves toward
breaking more of its own news.
Salon carries a lively mix of personal essays and think pieces; columns
include one written by a flight attendant and Wanderlust - stories about
love on the road. Columnists include British agent provocateur
Christopher Hitchens and non-PC feminist writer Camille Paglia. There is
also a diary of a Manhattan call girl. But that shouldn’t turn off PR
pros. There’s plenty of scope for pitching fresh ideas and reviews on
any number of subjects.
Other reasons loom for getting to know people at the site. Salon, which
is partly owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, is likely to expand beyond
the Web. Rainbow has helped facilitate a joint TV project with the cable
channel Bravo, and some speculate that a hard copy magazine will
Rosenberg explains that much of the feature-based material on the site
is planned around six to eight weeks in advance. Contacting reporters is
best done by e-mail. The Web site gives a complete list of who’s who,
plus biographical details of the main editors, who should be the first
port of call. The staff is based in San Francisco, though there are
around ten members in New York. Salon also recently added a Washington,
DC bureau, and a London office is scheduled to open by the end of the
Determining the impact of certain Web sites is no easy task. But
Rosenberg says that, as a publicly traded company, Salon has a duty to
report accurate visitor numbers. The site subscribes to the Audit Bureau
of Circulations’ Web-measurement system; it claimed three million unique
visitors in December 1999.
But according to Media Metrix, one of the Web’s pre-eminent measurement
firms, unique visitors were 1.4 million. Says Rosenberg: ’Media Metrix
operates a Nielsenlike panel. But it does not take into account what
people are doing at work.’ He adds that international users are not
accounted for. But by Web standards even the smaller figure is
Rosenberg says the editorial staff of about 50 people crafts between 20
to 30 new stories a day. ’We don’t use the term ’magazine’ anymore.
That connotes a leisurely aspect to what we do. We are a network of
sites updated at least daily. That is not something people associate
Salon has 11 sections, including Arts & Entertainment; Books; Health &
Body; Media; News; and Mothers Who Think. Staff writer Camille Peri, who
is married to site co-founder David Talbot, often contributes to Mothers
Regular political coverage in a new section called Politics 2000 has
become a must read; the section will remain after the presidential
election ends. Salon is also rethinking its approach to financial
coverage. Market-related stories from CBS Marketwatch and The Street
usually appear in the technology section, but Rosenberg says a new money
category is a possible addition.
For anyone yearning for a mental getaway, Salon’s Travel and Food
section is a real trip. Editor Don George is interested in being briefed
on the latest industry news; he also wants to be notified about upcoming
press trips and is willing to work with PR firms to help supplement his
travel budget. ’Of course the writers have to be free to say what they
find,’ he adds.
George firms up his features schedule two-to-three weeks in advance.
News stories are often added at 9 pm PST and on weekends, when the
section runs a travel feature. The Travel and Food section accepts
photographs, but only when solicited.
The editor can’t review individual restaurants or hotels but will do a
trend story when information is compelling. ’We’ll never use
announcements that are regional in nature,’ he says. But he is
interested in knowing when new books are due out. He showcases writers
such as Alex Garland, Isabel Allende and Jan Morris and is open to
running book reviews and excerpts.
And if your pitches fall on deaf ears you might consider participating
in Table Talk, the popular, themed, online discussion groups that run
alongside the sections.
As Rosenberg says: ’Everything is open on the Web.’
22 Fourth Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Tel: (415) 645-9200
Fax: (415) 645-9204
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (note exceptions)
Executive editor: Gary Kamiya (email@example.com)
Managing editor: Scott Rosenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Washington bureau chief (also edits media): David Weir
New York editorial director: Laura Miller
Arts and entertainment editor: Bill Wyman
Books editor: Craig Seligman
E-commerce editor: Cynthia Durcanin
Health & Body editor: Karen Croft
Mothers Who Think editor: Jennifer Foote Sweeney
News editor: Joan Walsh
Politics 2000 editor: Max Garrone (email@example.com)
People editor: Douglas Cruickshank
Technology editor: Kaitlin Quistgaard
Travel and food editor: Donald George.