Since 1985, Michael Musto's "La Dolce Musto" column in The Village Voice, the nation's largest weekly newspaper, has commanded the attention of famous people, their PR reps, and their fans.A witty m?lange of first-person reporting, analysis, and often-exclusive gossip, Musto's column can help or hinder the reputations of both people and products. He writes it out of the media capital of the world, his native New York City, which keeps Musto inundated with invites to everything from movie premieres to parties debuting a new line of drinks. He's also done TV commentary on his column's fodder for E!, VH-1, and others. PRWeek caught up with Musto by e-mail during a typical day in what he calls his "enchanted life." PRWeek: What are some of the things PR people consistently do right in pitching to you? Michael Musto: The best publicist pitches are clear and come well in advance, with follow-ups closer to the date of the event or interview. They should sound as if they're from someone who's actually read the column and knows what I might be interested in. They should be direct, not manipulative, and in the case of a red-carpet event, they shouldn't say Michael Jackson will be there when they actually mean Tito. PRWeek: What do they most often do wrong? Musto: The worst thing some of them do is oversell something that is intrinsically uninteresting, promise you an exclusive that isn't one, try to dictate your tone, and pitch you only after everyone else has said no. PRWeek: How far in advance do you write your column?
Musto: My deadline is Friday in advance of the Wednesday pub date. I work on the column all that week - adding, subtracting, and refining - and after it's turned in, I often add web-exclusive items as they break. PRWeek: Which column anecdotes, ideas, or observations get the most reader response? Why? Musto: I dabble in items about celebrity sexuality, and readers write in agog at the inside information. But the columns that get the most response are the ones with blind items because they become an interactive guessing game that has people practically offering me their first born to get the answers. I take the high road and refuse! PRWeek: What is the most enjoyable aspect of doing "La Dolce Musto"? Musto: I live an enchanted life. I get to see plays and movies before anyone else, meet celebrities every night, eat free food, and drink free soda. And then at the end of the week, I get to write whatever the hell I want about it all. Also, as a result of my column, I get to make TV appearances and spout off about the same topics, thereby becoming a modestly recognizable face in the media crowd. I can't recommend this line of work enough - just don't go after my column! Name: Michael Musto Publication: The Village Voice Title: Columnist
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