PRMM Interview #23: Michael Shapiro on pitching media

I had the pleasure to sit down with Michael Shapiro, Senior Editor of Meetings and Conventions magazine. A trade journalist for about 15 years, Michael has worked with many marketing and PR professionals. In this interview, Michael and I chat about tips and tricks for pitching him and his magazine, trends he’s seeing, and advice for those seeking to be a trade journalist.

Here’s a summary of our conversation:

00:51: What tips do you have for people seeking to pitch journalists?

Make sure you research the magazine you’re planning to pitch. I work for Meetings & Conventions and it’s pretty self-explanatory. If you’re on the periphery, do some research into the magazine.

So I can’t pitch you about politics?

You can and I’m on a lot of political media lists. If it has something to do about travel and meetings, we’ll write something about it. But the repeated follow-ups are unnecessary.

01:47: What tips would you give for those who want to pitch you personally? What’s your pet peeve?

It’s more of a pet peeve if people don’t know what the magazine is about. People will call, “Hey, I’m just calling to see if you got my email” and that’s their introduction. We get so many emails as an editor and I have 40,000 unread emails in my inbox! When you start out that way, I ask them to give me more info.

02:49:  If you have 40,000 emails, what’s the subject headline will catch your attention?

Well, the subject line should be descriptive and would help to be aware of what we’re covering. You can find our personal beats online. If it’s something that has to do with my area of coverage, as long as I can find it. You can follow up over email as well and we try our best to respond.

03:41: Of everything you’ve seen so far this year that’s caught your attention for event technology or trends that we can expect for the remainder of 2016 that you can discuss?

Some trends that we’re looking at are in the meetings and conventions industry, consolidation is a big theme and hotels. If it’s one of these trends, then it;s likely that I’ll be able to look at it and work into a story. I may not necessarily open up a press release and work on it. It’ll sell me on the topic itself and use it for an article as well.

04:58: What advice can you provide to those seeking to be a journalist and specifically trade journalism?

One thing about trade journalism is it always varies on the magazine. Sometimes what the editor is looking for is some degree of expertise on the topic.

When I was working at technology magazines, I would get pitches from people who could write, but didn’t have the knowledge of the tech. While the person may be able to learn quickly, we get so many pitches. So If I get an email from someone who shows that they have expertise in a topic that I need to cover, there’s more of a chance that I’ll work with them for a magazine that works with a lot of freelancers.

Currently, we don’t work with a lot of freelancers. But keep an eye on what we cover and publishing companies is a good way to get freelance gigs writing about the topics of the magazines you want to work for.

06:19: Conclusion – know your audience and know who you’re pitching, regardless if you want a story or a job with them.