MEDIA PROFILE: Cigar Aficionado sports a distinctly mature, upscale flavor

Cigar Aficionado knows everything about cigars, so don't pitch that subject. Beyond that, the title welcomes inquiries from PR pros relating to any topic of interest to its affluent male readership.

Cigar Aficionado knows everything about cigars, so don't pitch that subject. Beyond that, the title welcomes inquiries from PR pros relating to any topic of interest to its affluent male readership.

There's only one major subject you want to avoid when pitching Cigar Aficionado: cigars. "We feel our knowledge of the cigar business is more extensive than anybody's going to be able to talk to us about," says executive editor Gordon Mott. "In general, I don't respond very favorably to pitches in the cigar area." But not to worry. Just as a $4 Honduran La Aroma de Cuba corona packs "an earthy character and a sweet graham-cracker note," according to the April issue's back-of-the-book ratings of 79 cigars, there's a lot more to Cigar Aficionado than smoke. And the good news is, almost all of it is open to the right PR pitch. "We are wide open," says Mott. "In the last two years, we have made a concerted effort to provide regular coverage in some specific areas that we think are of interest to our audience," which is affluent, middle-aged, college-educated men in white-collar, professional jobs. Such areas include hi-tech gadgets, golf, cars, gambling, fashion, drinks, and more for a circulation of about 300,000. "They've really reinvented themselves since the cigar fad crashed," says Robbie Vorhaus of Vorhaus & Company. "It's an aspirational title for men who choose to live the good life." The front part of the magazine is more or less devoted to products and services that qualify as the finer things in life, conveniently organized in what's called the Good Life Guide, which is edited by senior features editor Jack Bettridge. This month's Good Life Guide features the BeoVision 5, a $20,000 surround-sound entertainment system complete with flat-screen TV; English-made Brigg umbrellas that range from $250-$900; the 100th anniversary Harley-Davidson that goes for just under $19,000; and more practical items, like a multipurpose silver Zippo lighter that retails for just $19.95. But there's other fun to be had in this section, such as online editor David Savona's painful - yet rewarding - experience with boxing lessons. In any of those, including the feature categories, "we're open to pitches about those products and those kinds of ideas," says Mott. There's also a back page called Made For You, which features custom-made products, ranging from billiard cues to cuff links to clothes to CDs remastered from old records. Generally, Mott says that an e-mail followed up with a mailing is really the best way to pitch Cigar Aficionado. "It kind of reinforces the idea," he says, "and e-mails have become all too easy to respond to quickly, and it's nice if you have a piece of paper that if something interests you, it's going to get in the further-consideration pile." What makes it into that pile can be anything from business (this month's main feature looks at Edgar Bronfman Jr.'s disastrous tenure at the top of the Seagram empire), to cars (this month offers a look at new Lamborghinis), or even gambling. "We do gambling in every issue," Mott notes, "which ranges from talking about specific locales to specific kinds of games to different kinds of human anecdotal stories about people who make a living gambling." But getting consideration from Cigar Aficionado isn't about luck or playing the odds, and one certainly needn't worry about providing an exclusive or think about an editorial calendar, as the magazine is only planned about three or four months ahead. "I tend to adopt more of a New York Times attitude, where it's not news until they print it. That's how we feel," says Mott, regarding exclusives. "We will cover things that have appeared elsewhere." But as far as product coverage goes, "we're looking for instances where we're ahead of the curve, where things are going to be launched, rather than things that are already on the market. So if it's a well-known brand name in a category that they dominate, or one of the category leaders, if we can get that into the magazine before it is launched or as it's being launched, we prefer that. But that's hard to accomplish, so we don't always achieve it," Mott explains. "One problem with a bimonthly is trying to keep it as current as possible." Mott hopes that in the future he can devote even more pages to travel and drinks and beverages, as "both are things we believe our audience spends a lot of time thinking about and spends its money on." But whatever you're pitching, if you keep the Cigar Aficionado audience in mind, you really can't go wrong, says Victoria King of Victoria King Public Relations, who represents upscale travel accounts. "They have such a strong male readership, you have to come in with something that's going to appeal to them," she says. "It's heavily slanted toward a male audience, which is why they're interested in golf and private jets" - not women's cosmetic products, which Mott says he has been pitched. "That's not for my magazine," he says. "It's a men's magazine. We really try to focus on mature men, and that, I think, colors all our coverage and the way we approach stories." ----- Contact list Cigar Aficionado Address 387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016 Tel/fax (212) 684-4224; 684-5424 Web E-mail Editor and Publisher Marvin R. Shanken Executive Editor Gordon Mott Senior Features Editor Jack Bettridge Senior Editor Shandana A. Durrani Senior Editor/Director Cigar Aficionado Online David Savona

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