Merrill earns invitation to 'Dinner'

Profile of Merrill Lynch banker in December 2005 issue of 'Minnesota Monthly'

Profile of Merrill Lynch banker in December 2005 issue of 'Minnesota Monthly'

Why was Minnesota Monthly an important target for your client?
Jennifer Duda:
We help Merrill Lynch, our client, reach affluent audiences in several markets, including Minneapolis/St. Paul. Minnesota Monthly is a lifestyle outlet that speaks directly to individuals interested in financial growth and strategic investing.

How did you pitch them?
Duda: We didn't have a relationship initially, but I was able to get editor Jeff Johnson on the phone. I suggested profiling one of the senior people at Merrill Lynch. When I followed up, he referred me to senior reporter Ann Bauer, who writes a regular feature, "Dinner with," which combines a personality profile of a prominent area businessperson with a restaurant review.

It turns out Ann and I have the same alma mater, as well as other things in common. We developed a rapport that contributed to her agreeing to profile executive Peter Eckerline.

The combination interview/ restaurant review is an unusual format. How did you prepare your client for it?
Duda:
Peter had been previously media trained while at Merrill Lynch, but I did give him suggested talking points and background on both Ann and the magazine. I also made sure Ann had Peter's bio and knew that he had been named one of the country's top financial advisors by Barron's.

What was the impact of this placement?
Duda:
The interview ended up as a three-page profile, and Peter quickly began receiving calls and e-mails from clients, colleagues, peers, and potential clients who were impressed with what they read and proceeded to set up meetings with him.

Emily Pachuta, Merrill Lynch's director of field communications and PR, later noted, "An article like this initiates a chain of events that drive the business - from the article appearing in a publication to a financial advisor's phone ringing."

Name: Jennifer Duda, associate, Burson-Marsteller (Chicago)

Placement: Profile of Merrill Lynch banker in December 2005 issue of Minnesota Monthly

Pitch timeline: Six months

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