In PR, Is Who You Know More Important than What You Know?

Sometimes a new business prospect will ask, “Do you know John Doe, the editor of so-and-so magazine?”  To which we reply (if it’s true):  “Yes we know John and quite a few editors in the XYZ field.”  But I always want to add (and seldom do!) that while it’s certainly important to know key editors in a given field, it’s not really the be-all and end-all of good PR results.  At Adventive, we’ve been working the B2B PR side of the fence for more than 25 years now and if our friend John Doe left the publication tomorrow, or so-and-so magazine closed its doors and ceased to operate, we’d still be able to win the attention of John’s replacement or the editor of a surviving/comparable publication, or the top bloggers in the field, because we know how to do it.   

Of course, it’s great to have a good relationship with the key editor(s) you need to target, simply because it’s a really fine way to short circuit the pitch process. For instance, the editors we deal with on a day-to-day basis know that we wouldn’t bother them with some news, a view of the industry, a technology item or a new product that’s off the mark. They expect we will provide them with something of real value to their readership because we have a proven track record with them.  So, they typically check out our email or take our call.  

But, generally speaking, that’s precisely why we got on the editors’ ‘good side’ to begin with.  We got there by approaching them in an appropriate way (we don’t call editors that want to be approached by email) and by researching their publication (and the specific editor’s responsibilities and interests) so well that weren’t coming in from left-field.  By taking the time to look at what they had previously published, we were able to offer them content they hadn’t already covered, and we never offered bylined articles to publications that don’t use them.  We do our homework before we conduct the pitch — and when we do finally approach the editor we get to the point quickly.  

As evidence, we were recently asked to get significant ink in publications in the energy/windpower arena. We were not familiar with any of these publications – and certainly not their editors – yet we successfully placed three feature articles in record time.  Why?  Because we researched the publications, we approached the right editors by email (their preferred method of contact), we made our case in three fairly short paragraphs, we followed up when we said we would later in the week, we submitted an abstract almost immediately after interest was established, and we provided the manuscripts as they prescribed and on their due dates.

So, you’ll never find me saying that you have to know the editor to succeed – it certainly helps, but good research and an intriguing way of dealing with the topic at-hand can make the day.



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