6 questions: Simon Sharwood, Editor, My Business
Next up in our series finding out how journalists like to work, any issues they have with PRs, how they like stories to be pitched to them, etc, is Simon Sharwood, Editor of My Business magazine – the monthly magazine for ambitious business owners.
1) What is your deadline day?
My Business goes to print on the third Thursday of the month, so I am generally flat out in the week before that date.
We also publish daily online.
I also edit another magazine, Government Technology Review. It goes to print in the last week of even-numbered months.
2) How do you prefer to be contacted (i.e. email, phone, fax, post)?
Phone. I keep being told about the importance of conversation to build relationships – and then people send me an email. I like to be called because it’s more effective than email and a lot more personal too.
3) Is there a particular time of day you prefer to be contacted?
Just call. I’ll either answer or you’ll go to voicemail 😉 But I am a good caller-back, nearly always same day.
4) Do you like to meet companies and bosses for coffee/ lunch? If yes, do you have any favourite venues?
Yes. I’m honestly happy to meet over a plate of vegemite sandwiches, because I value information more than I value hospitality. If you’ve got a good story to tell, I’m far happier to hear it at a bus-stop than I am waiting for a meal to arrive at a posh restaurant. Please don’t think I’m churlish about hospitality: I just prefer rapid exchange of ideas no matter what environment it takes place in. And I don’t have the time for long lunches or stunts that involve hovercraft rides.
I prefer to do things in and around North Sydney, where our office is located. Travel time is a killer. The Local Café is as good as any. And To’s Malaysian [3/181 Miller Street, North Sydney NSW 2060, (02) 9955 2088] makes the best Har Mee soup this side of KL.
5) What are your three pet peeves about PRs?
One: PRs who pitch without ever having read publications I work on and therefore make nonsensical, time-wasting, pitches.
Two: Emails that aren’t personalized, or that are forwarded. Even Spam manages to name me, so emails that start “Hi” or “Dear Journalist” are less professional than Spam!
Three: Being invited to events later than other media. This often happens when PRs cannot get a decent turn-up at an event, so they turn to their B-list in the hope of getting enough people in the room to impress the client. Journos know when this happens: we’re pretty well networked people.
6) What would the perfect story pitch be for you? And what’s the best PR pitch you have ever had?
A perfect pitch would tell a story that I’ve never heard before, one that is full of surprises and interesting people who generously share experiences that my readers will find interesting and so educational they cannot imagine why no-one has ever told them about this before.
I’m yet to get the best pitch ever.