There were a hundred or more email pitches sitting in Caitlin Fitzsimmons’ inbox this morning – and she’s going to read them. As the deputy editor of online business magazine, BRW, Fitzsimmons says many of the stories she writes start from email pitches.
But Fitzsimmons is quick on the trash trigger. “My job is what I deliver to our readers every day in our e-newsletter, rather than keeping on top of emails,” she says.
So how can you avoid the delete button when it comes to pitching to BRW magazine?
It’s not so hard, Fitzsimmons says. Here are some clues:
Australian stories of growth and innovation
Fitzsimmons loves to hear from entrepreneurs who are happy to talk about their own direct experience. “We have a niche subject and audience, which is Australian entrepreneurs and innovators. I delete anything that is about big listed companies that don’t have an owner-operator involved. It’s not about the size; it is the involvement of the founder.”
Anything about foreign companies gets deleted, too.
Inspiring, but not too happy
“Just remember we are always looking for stories that will help, inspire and entertain other entrepreneurs and innovators, so the more honest people can be about the ups and downs, the better. We don’t want to hear about it all being happy.”
Fitzsimmons wants stories that show the real challenges of business growth “I interview founders and find out how they became an entrepreneur and what happened to them along the way – candid insights into the ups and downs of it.”
Keep it fresh and exclusive
BRW online publishes every afternoon, but still maintains a magazine-style format to its stories.
BRW publishes a weekly Enterprise section in the daily business newspaper, The Australian Financial Review, and commissions those stories several weeks in advance.
“We can’t compete with the news outlets, but I need stories to be fresh to my audience. We don’t want to be part of co-ordinated mass release. We look for exclusive news, features analysis and opinion. It’s a particular turnoff when someone sends a pitch to me about something in the paper that morning.”
Share insight into trends
Because Fitzsimmons follows entrepreneurial innovation, she is specifically interested in what is topical, such as 3D printing.
“Not that I want a rash of pitches about 3D printing, but it is an example of topical innovation,” Fitzsimmons says.
Protocol is personal
Fitzsimmons prefers email pitches to a phone call, unless there is genuine urgency involved. (This varies between editors.)
Follow up with a phone call but not too fast, she says. “Follow up after a week, but not the same or the next day. You are doubling the input I am dealing with.”
More important is to be easily available when Fitzsimmons decides to act on your pitch. Journalists work on their own timescale and priority, but when they move, they move fast.
Whether or not you use a PR company matters little to Fitzsimmons, as long as you send a pitch, not a press release.
Starting small, getting bigger
Readers love reading about how companies raise funds for growth, and also about the big crises entrepreneurs face and how they deal with them.
“We are interested in growth businesses. They might be small now but they are aiming to get bigger. We like to think of ourselves as tracking companies from start-up to the Rich 200 list.”