MEDIA PROFILE: Scoops go long way in maintaining PSBJ's exclusive reputation

Scooping dailies and in-depth reporting have earned the Puget Sound Business Journal respect. To retain that status, the weekly seeks exclusives and a big-picture focus from PR pros.

Scooping dailies and in-depth reporting have earned the Puget Sound Business Journal respect. To retain that status, the weekly seeks exclusives and a big-picture focus from PR pros.

Appearances can be deceiving. While many might think Seattle's often dreary weather matches its economy these days, several industry leaders that help drive the economy make the Puget Sound area their home, including Microsoft,, Starbucks, Washington Mutual, and Nordstrom. And for the past 22 years, the Puget Sound Business Journal has covered the local business community whatever the economic climate. "We're much more focused on business that anyone else in the area," says managing editor Rob Smith. "We put together a 60- to 100-page paper on the Puget Sound business community each week. We follow the dollars. We cover real estate, healthcare, biotech, marketing and media, technology, banking and finance, hospitality, and the government. We go much, much deeper than just consumer business news." Recent stories have focused on the turf wars between and eBay, Canadian furniture makers pulling out of the US, and local biotech companies looking to Japan for partnerships. The website also features daily breaking news, sections offering resources on business markets, sales leads, and networking opportunities. The latest issue features an incredibly in-depth look at what 2003 holds for the business community, looking at all facets of business in Puget Sound, from wood products and banking to nonprofits and retail. In addition to the weekly news pieces in print, the website features daily news stories and resources on various markets, sales, and other business issues. Upper-level executives, from CEOs to VPs, are the majority of the 90,000 readers of the PSBJ, which has a paid circulation of 20,000. The paper's eight writers are always open to pitches, says Smith, adding that the easiest way to pitch is to keep an eye on the editorial calendar, which can be found online and shows upcoming features. The staff writers' beats and phone numbers can also be found online. "People really should familiarize themselves with the publication before they pitch it," advises Smith. "If you are able to convince a reporter that your pitch is going to get their byline on the front page, they'll probably be much more receptive." With the weekly publishing schedule, it's best to reach reporters and editors on Thursdays and Fridays, and to pitch feature ideas on the editorial calendar at least a month in advance. "They have really evolved in stature," says APCO Worldwide SVP Maggie Brown of the PSBJ. "They have done a terrific job building the editorial content, which is a particular challenge when competing with [The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer]. They scoop dailies on a regular basis. They've attained quite a level of respectability." To maintain this reputation for scooping the competition, the PSBJ often insists on exclusives. "If something is in one of the dailies on Wednesday, and we don't come out until Friday, we don't have any value," says Smith. "We tell companies that if they go to the dailies first, then we won't do as much on the story." PR pros should heed that advice, says MWW/Savitt president Kathy Savitt. "Given the fact that they are a weekly, you have to be mindful of not breaking news with one of the dailies," she says. "One of the things I like about the PSBJ is that it will often go much more in-depth into business issues than other papers." And while the paper will listen to most pitches, it won't tolerate those that are prefaced with comments relating to the magazine's commercial side. "Someone once sent a pitch saying they were considering advertising with us," says Smith. "People pitch saying they're friends of the publisher. There's a fine line between pitching with passion and arguing with you about why it's a good story." The best stories present a larger picture. The PSBJ wrote about Microsoft's Xbox launch not as a feature on the video game system, but as a way to explore Microsoft's overall business strategy. "Someone pitched us a story about a company that sells floors online," recalls Smith. "It was fascinating. After all, who buys floors on the web? We did something on the state of Washington getting involved with online registration, such as drivers' licenses. It was about how a state agency is adopting technology." And that's the key to the PSBJ - think of the big picture, and think of the PSBJ first. ------ Contact list Puget Sound Business Journal Address 801 2nd Avenue, Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98104 Tel/Fax (206) 583-0701/447-8510 Web E-mail Editor Rami Grunbaum Managing editor Rob Smith Special reports editor Becky Monk Web editor Pat McCarrell

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