Highlights from the July 2019 Leader Lunch

Thanks to the good people at the Austin Business Journal, 12 lucky WCA members got the inside scoop on how the news business works. Whether you’re targeting the print or digital edition, the newsletter or events, here are ways to get your company’s name into circulation.

Pitch the Right Content

The ABJ looks at content through three lenses, so be sure yours is something that can help readers:

  • Grow their business,
  • Advance their career or
  • Simplify their professional life.

Know What Makes News

No news outlet can cover all stories. Make sure yours checks one or more of these boxes. The more boxes you check, the better your odds of publication.

  • Timeliness. News gets stale in a matter of days.
  • Proximity. The closer the news is to Austin, the better chance of it getting covered.
  • Impact. The number of people affected matters — the more, the better.
  • Celebrity. If Michael Dell starts a new company, it’s almost certainly news to ABJ.
  • Conflict. If feathers are being ruffled, it’s often worth a look.
  • Novelty/Bizarreness. Dog bites man happens often enough. Man bites dog — now that’s a story!

The one thing all business news has in common is change. The bigger the change, the better the news story. Email Editor Colin Pope with breaking business news tips.

Avoid Double Pitching

The American City Business Journals publishes 43 newsweeklies in the U.S. If your story has an Austin angle and, say, a Nashville angle, pick a market reporter to pitch, but keep the other market reporter in the loop. You don’t want two Journals working on the same story. Usually, the company’s headquarters determines where the story should run.

Find Out What’s Needed and What’s Coming Up

The ABJ publishes breaking news, but it also includes planned and other content. Whatever the format, the ABJ publishes content people are willing to pay for.

Write to the editor. Letters to the Editor are among the most-read parts of the paper. The ABJ is always looking for letters commenting on a particular issue or story that appeared in the publication. Send <300-word letters with your name, company, email address and daytime phone number to Editor Colin Pope.

Suggest a news story or feature to an ABJ reporter. Contact Managing Editor Will Anderson if you’re unsure which reporter to contact. Send your email pitch early in the day, and start it with a great subject line. Keep in mind you can pitch a story idea or analysis piece, but 95 percent of content is written in-house.

Send a newsy photo for the ABJ Seen page. Whether it’s a ribbon cutting with giant scissors, a big fake check donation, a new-business groundbreaking or even a networking event, the ABJ will consider running it. Send a hi-res photo, a description and participant names to Editor Colin Pope for consideration.

Get on The List. Each week, the ABJ publishes a ranking of top organizations and people in a particular industry, based on survey results. Make sure yours is included on all the lists for which it qualities. Visit the Editorial Calendar, choose Market: Austin and Section: List, and choose your desired Topic(s). Then email Research Director Patricia Rogers, and she will add your email address to the appropriate survey database(s). You’ll receive a custom survey 4–6 weeks before the publication date. Then cross your fingers you make The List!

Pitch a guest column idea. Do you have a winning PR strategy in times of crisis or know proven ways to get backlinks and boost SEO? Think of yourself (or your client) as a subject-matter expert offering free advice on a topic that would benefit business readers. Submit an idea to Managing Editor Will Anderson for consideration. Will shared a great example of a 1000-word guest column on what startup founders should pay themselves.

Propose a person to profile. Each week, the ABJ profiles the personal side of a local executive on its Journal Profile page. Pitch a local executive’s story to Editor Colin Pope for consideration. If that executive is willing to include their email address or phone number, even better. Readers want newsmakers they can connect with.

Nominate someone. Throughout the year, the ABJ produces awards events and publications honoring everything from best CEOs to best office buildings to best places to work. Stay on top of events and nomination opportunities by bookmarking the ABJ Events page. Or, email Events Director Jackie Zuniga to get on her radar.


Whichever way you approach the ABJ, remember that reporters and editors are spinning more plates than we can imagine. Be clear and succinct, and develop a relationship. Journalists will thank you, and they may even cover your story.

Special thanks to ABJ’s Heather Ladage, market president & publisher; Colin Pope, editor; and Erin Edgemon, staff writer, for hosting WCA’s July Leader Lunch and sharing their wisdom and experience with us. Thanks also to Will Anderson, managing editor, and Patricia Rogers, research director, for contributing to this story.

For comments, please contact Dannah de la Garrigue.


Registration for August’s WCA@Lunch is now OPEN!

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