Unlike a lot of research-based publications, academic business journals and reviews - especially those affiliated with prestigious schools - cast a net far beyond narrow university circles and are considered essential reading in many executive suites.
"We're sort of the middle ground, about halfway between something very academic and, say, a BusinessWeek or Fortune," explains Gundars Strads, senior editor of the California Management Review of the University of California-Berkeley. "We're not necessarily more stuffy, but it is much more researched-based than news-based."
The California Management Review, Sloan Management Review, and, especially, Harvard Business Review often serve as testing grounds where the latest management theories are rigorously analyzed before being introduced to the wider business community.
As such, these outlets aren't likely to shy away from controversial topics. Articles such as the Harvard Business Review's story several years ago on information technology, "IT Doesn't Matter," or its more recent piece, "How Business Schools Lost Their Way," can trigger debates that resonate in the general business press.
"There's a cachet factor to these academic presses," says Fern Reiss, CEO of Expertizing.com, a company- and brand-positioning firm. "The prestige value is higher than a Forbes or Fortune." But Reiss adds, "While you can often slide your way into a traditional business article with a good sound bite, these outlets are different - you need really solid stuff or they don't want to talk to you."
"You don't want to be trying to get puff pieces into these journals," says Peter Navarro, professor of business at the University of California-Irvine and author of The Well-Timed Strategy. "You have to really respect the integrity of the process and provide them with a new innovation or managerial approach."
Cathy Olofson, communications director for the Harvard Business Review, says only about 2% of the 1,200 unsolicited proposals it receives each year result in a published article.
But that doesn't mean it's impossible. "We're writing for a senior manager audience as opposed to an academic audience," she says. "So if a company or executive has tried out a new approach, and it has particularly stellar results, we want to hear about that, especially if it can be applied and translated to other companies."
Navarro, who contributes to the California Management Review, suggests pairing up a client's senior executives with an academic, adding, "If you have somebody academically affiliated with your organization, you want to loop them in."
PITCHING... academic business titles
Patience will be a virtue because the period between proposal and publication in a prestigious academic business journal can often be six months or more
The Harvard Business Review, California Management Review, et al are difficult media targets, but partnering a CEO or senior exec with an academic can give a leg up
This isn't the kiddie pool, and a great sound bite alone isn't going to cut it, so make sure there's a very rigorous idea or experience at the heart of every proposal