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Donya Blaze

Star‘s James Heidenry: ‘If a publicist wants to serve their clients, they should have a good relationship with us’

In Mediabistro’s latest So What Do You Do? interview, Star editor-in-chief James Heidenry tackles his newsstand nemeses head-on, calling People and Us Weekly “the mouthpiece of celebrity publicists” – and he didn’t mean that in a positive way. 

“They covet these relationships with the publicists, and as a result they don’t say negative things about the celebrities, something like a famous person getting caught cheating, whereas we don’t have any such relationships,” he explained.

Although the pub isn’t necessarily beholden to PR pros, said Heidenry, getting on his team’s good side can sometimes work in your favor. “If a publicist wants to serve their clients, they should have a good relationship with us, because, frankly, we do have stories on certain people that we hold, because we like the relationship with the publicist and we’ve done Q&A with the celebrity in the past or photo shoots with them,” he said. 

Read the full interview in So What Do You Do, James Heidenry, Editor-in-Chief of Star?

Send Your Health Care Pitches to Cure

Launched in the spring of 2002, Cure aims to present cancer research and information in a patient-friendly format. The magazine is distributed freely to cancer patients and healthcare professionals, and the vast majority of its contributors have a background in health writing or are medical professionals themselves, such as editor-in-chief, Debu Tripathy, a well-known oncologist who specializes in breast cancer.

Publicists are encouraged to pitch Cure editors on anything related to the disease, including book reviews. The magazine’s editor-at-large typically pens one review for each issue, and the book almost always was pitched by a publicist.

Get more details, plus a full list of all editors accepting pitches in How to Pitch: Cure [Mediabistro AvantGuild subscription required].

Nicholas Braun

Mythbusters: PR Is NOT Easier Than Journalism

Raise your hand if this has ever happened to you: You’re at a party when a writer friend (okay, associate) comes up and starts grilling you about your job. ”How much writing do you really have to do?” “Which is better: the agency or in-house side?” “Uh, are you hiring?” (By now, you’re probably raising both hands and stomping your feet, no?)

Veteran publicists know that while PR and journalism both require having great contacts and writing skills, the similarities pretty much stop there. In Mediabistro’s latest AvantGuild article, journos who have made the transition discussed some of the hard-learned truths (and myths) about working in PR.

For starters, public relations is not easier than reporting. “Corporate culture is an adjustment,” explained Ramey Becker, former TV reporter and current director of communications for Financial Planning Standards Board. Perhaps most eye-opening, she said, “You realize how much you don’t know about the real (read: business) world.”

Read more in What Journalists Should Know Before Switching to PR. [subscription required]

Aim for the Culture Section of Village Voice

Village Voice coverIf your client is the next hot thing in pop or indy culture, you could land print and online coverage in Village Voice. As the “premier expert on New York’s downtown scene,” the alt weekly looks to publicists to arrange interviews, to secure advanced copies of media material (film, books, music) and to obtain access to events (shows, openings).

But be patient when pitching, said music editor Maura Johnston. ”I do try to at least glance at every email I receive, although responding to every one would be a full-time job, or maybe even two,” she explained.

Get contact info for Johnston and all editors accepting pitches in How To Pitch for PR: Village Voice. (subscription required)

Four Lessons from WeTV’s Braxton Family Values Press Screening

The Braxtons

Braxton Family Values is a bonafide smash, becoming WeTV’s highest rated original series, according to the network’s senior VP of production, John Miller. So, to kick off Season 2, the singing sisters hit New York’s Tribeca Grand Tuesday for an official press screening and Q&A.

Although the shindig successfully reignited buzz for the show, it raised a couple event planning do’s and don’ts that all publicists can learn from:

Read more

‘Vibe’ Isn’t Just For Music Stories

vibe.jpg Vibe is right up there with Blender, Billboard, and Rolling Stone as far as music mags in the industry go. However, its editorial variety sets it apart.

Although Vibe’s tagline is “redefining hip-hop,” the pub for music-lovers is open to featuring non-urban artists and even the hottest grooming products. Senior editor Clover Hope looks for a vast array of stories — from tech devices, to up-and-coming artists, to new liquors that will be featured on the mag’s drinking page. Hope recalls a successful pitch from a liquor rep: “They described what the brand is, why it’s good, and the specific section it would work in.”

Vibe is published six times per year whereas online content is frequently updated, making Web features a good pitching option. also accepts multimedia features, like video and photo submissions.

Hope also tells Mediabistro a few things publicists should avoid when pitching Vibe in our full AvantGuild article. Click here to check it out. [sub req'd]


Is There Really “No Such Thing as Bad Publicity”?

PRBounce.jpgFrom the looks of this and this, it’s clear that PR scandals and gaffes are alive and well. But, if your client gets thrown under the bus unnecessarily, there are some bona fide ways to address or diffuse it.

“Burying your head in the sand and hoping it will go away is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to negative publicity,” says Mark Scott, director of media relations at MSL Group.

Instead, try getting reporters to help share your side of the story. Be transparent and admit any mistakes, if necessary. “With a short attention span and an affinity for the comeback story, Americans allow you to dust yourself off and make good again,” according to Brian Heffron, senior vice president at CTP Boston. “The media love to write those stories.”

Get more tips on handling a PR crisis in’s AvantGuild article, PR, Perfected: How to Bounce Back from Negative Publicity.


Home in on a Pitch for Sunset

sunset (1).jpgSunset can’t emphasize enough just how distinct its focus is. This regional mag targets homeowners, especially women in their 30s and 40s, in 13 Western states.

Features editor Christina Ciarmello advises avoiding broad pitches on certain evergreen lifestyle topics, like food and travel.  It’s important to be selective: “We prefer a warmly modern, Western look in both houses and furnishings,” she says.

Ciarmello also describes the most successful publicists as those who “made it their business to get to know the magazine: both where we’ve been, institutionally, and where we’re going, which is even more important.”

For specific details on which sections to pitch and a full list of editor contacts, read’s How To Pitch For PR: Sunset. [sub reqd]


Bring It Home With a Targeted Pitch for Women

ladieshomejournal811.jpgLadies’ Home Journal relaunched in February 2009 in an attempt to stay modern. In’s latest “How To Pitch” article for Avant Guild members, LHJ‘s editors discuss how you and your client can break through their stuffed inboxes.

Senior articles editor Lorraine Glennon explains, “Pitches are most useful for giving editors an awareness of various trends which, in turn, factor into their thinking about what stories work for the magazine.”

To get contact info for all the mag’s editors, plus details on lead times and more, read the full article here.


Pitch To The Point For Real Simple

Real Simple is looking for all products that will make life easier for its 8.8 million readers. Think new fashion, home and beauty ideas for the busy everywoman — and, no, vibrators do not count.

Deputy editor Noelle Howey says, “It’s knowing how to make the pitch and the type of product. So, all the publicists who send me information on sex toys could probably stop now. I get a lot of those.”

Publicists who pitch to a specific section or column have a better chance of grabbing an editor’s attention, and what’s the best way to learn those sections? Read…the…magazine.

Get more guidelines, plus a full list of editors accepting pitches here.