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An Editor's Perspective: Q&A on PR Best Practices, Industry Outlook

Lauren Eichmann

February 2010 issue of Internet Retailer Internet Retailer, which focuses on industry trends for online merchants, will be hosting its 2010 Conference & Exhibition in Chicago June 8 - 11.  As such, we decided to reach out to Bill Siwicki - Senior Editor at Internet Retailer - who will be moderating a session on mobile commerce during the conference.

He answered some of  our questions related to the interaction between PR professionals and journalists, the evolving industry and upcoming trends for 2010.

Here is what he had to say.  

(1) What are you expecting Internet Retailer to cover in 2010? In other words -- what’s the big story for the upcoming year?

Big stories in 2010 will include how the recession has changed the behavior of online shoppers, how social media can boost retailer's brands and sales, how mobile commerce will continue to mature as the fourth sales channel, how rich media can make a web site beautiful and more dynamic, and how e-commerce technology can best be implemented and used.

(2) From your perspective, what’s the outlook for e-retailing?

E-retailing has never, since Day One, stopped growing. Even in the worst economic climate in generations, 2009, online web sales grew. And consumers are shifting more of their spending from stores to the web. The Internet has changed the way people shop, and continues to do so. E-retailing will continue to grow, and e-retailers will continue to innovate the way they do business.

(3) How is social media influencing the role of journalists and editors?

Social media has yet to take off as a method for consuming journalism. Twitter feeds of headlines are interesting, but that’s about it. Most readers still love a print magazine, but the number of people who rely solely on web sites for their news and information will continue to grow. Social media is a tool for sharing journalism, not publishing it. It’s the Internet, and to an increasing degree the mobile web and e-reader devices, that will continue to change the landscape of journalism.

(4) What type of pitches / story ideas do you like to see?


The best pitches are ones that are specific and concise—brevity is a virtue in an environment where one’s e-mailbox fills so rapidly. The best pitches also are about clients of companies using a company’s technology or services, not the company itself, except when there is news very specific to a company (such as the release of a new product or promotion of an executive). The best pitches use common, layman’s language, not marketing-speak. And the best pitches are made by individuals who really know the publication—what areas it covers, what’s on the editorial calendar (60 days advance notice, please), what some general trends are.

(5) Where do you see the journalism profession headed in ten years?

To the Internet!

(6) Is there anything PR professionals can do to help make your job (reporters/editors in general) easier?

Stay abreast of the editorial calendar, and make sure to stay 60 days ahead of the date of publication (for example, a pitch on March 1 for a May issue). Keep pitches concise. Always e-mail—because of a journalist’s hectic schedule, it is always easier to tend to e-mail when convenient as opposed to taking phone calls. Make sure to include your e-mail address in your auto-signature (sometimes when one forwards an e-mail, only the name of the original e-mailer goes through, not the whole address).

And last but not least, please, make sure a press release is comprehensible. Far too often, a press release is filled with marketing-speak that makes no sense and requires explanation, and thus another call or e-mail. If you have to think twice after reading a sentence, something’s wrong. Your clients may insist that certain language (including terms that aren’t even words) be used in a press release. Tell them, “No.”  The language is not clear and concise.