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Computerworld’s Confusing Email

February 21, 2008

Not a week goes by where it seems a member of the MSM, blogsphere or analyst community issues either a cease and desist edict directed towards PR reps or a “Work with me this way, if you don’t like it, get lost” email/blog post.

Perhaps I’m exaggerating slightly. That said, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Not all are gloom and doom, however. Many can be very helpful and constructive to PR reps such as Lena West’s “The Blogosphere Cluebook” or Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang’s suggestions how to impress him and run an effective analyst briefing. All good stuff.

Some are frothing rants like the infamous “outing of lazy PR Flacks.”

And others are just plain confusing like this form letter from a Computerworld editor in response to a colleague’s pitch:

Thanks for contacting Computerworld. We’ve dramatically changed how we develop the stories listed on the magazine’s Editorial Calendar, with the unfortunate side effect that it’s virtually impossible for the public relations community to offer timely suggestions for those magazine stories. These days, the weekly “Spotlight” magazine stories are re-edited versions of stories that have already been published on our Web site, Computerworld.com. The online stories are selected a few weeks before being published in the magazine and, because the stories are already finished, there isn’t any opportunity to provide input. In other words, there isn’t a practical way to tell you what the story is about in time for you to take action.

In the future, we may have an Online Editorial Calendar, which would provide more advance notice about online features in the works.

In the meantime, we have two suggestions:

1. Focus on the monthly “Special Reports” listed on the Editorial Calendar. Please send queries & suggestions for those Special Reports to:
pitches@computerworld.com (you’ll definitely get an answer). The Special Reports are:

2. Develop a long-term, helpful relationship — unrelated to the Editorial Calendar listings — with the appropriate news writers, features editors and online channel editors. They’re listed on our Editorial Contacts page: http://www.computerworld.com/action/pages.do?command=viewPage&pagePath=/contacts/contacts_edit
(Click on their names to send e-mail.)

I hope this is helpful.

Given the response, I guess I’m confused as to why Computerworld even bothers to issue a weekly print edition. LOADS of people are reading the online but are they reading the print version? Go to Computerworld.com and you can hardly find a link to “This Week in Print” and when you do, you get the following page:

picture-1.png

My team has worked with several different Computerworld reporters in the past three weeks such as Patrick Thibodeau and Tam Harbert. Our goal from day one was to provide the reporter with a credible and interesting source which would, in turn, hopefully result in online coverage, not necessarily off line coverage. If it appears in print, that’s gravy.

So, of course, we’ll continue to work directly with the reporters/freelancers, building relationships, completely unrelated to ed cal items. That’s a given.

But if you’re using the book to regurgitate online content days later (content that’s very very good, don’t get me wrong), why even have a print product? How long until Computerworld follows InfoWorld and Red Herring in ceasing and desisting the printing presses?

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