*This is an older post. Much of the information is still useful, but for more updated writing and pitching tips, please see the note at the end of this post!
Ever wonder HOW to find the right editor at a magazine to whom you should pitch that amazing story idea?
You may or may not have heard this before, but it holds true, even in today’s digital world: the magazine staff box. I learned this tidbit from an old college professor who, at the time she taught me, was also the southwest editor of Backpacker Magazine.
And behold, today her advice has put me in touch with editors from Phoenix Magazine to TIME Magazine.
What is the “staff box,” and where can I find it?
In case this is a new term for you, the staff box is that magic page in a magazine which lists the advertising contacts, the contributing writers and the editorial staff. It will list everyone, from the executive editor, to the art director, right down to the contributing photographer.
You can usually find it toward the beginning of the magazine, most likely within the first 10 pages. Every magazine is different. However, the staff box is NEVER in the middle, or toward the back of a magazine.
How do I use the staff box to determine the right editor?
Here’s the key: never start at the top.
Instead, search for an assistant editor. Call that person, tell him or her you have a (health/education/lifestyle/etc.) story to pitch, and you’d like to know who edits the (health/education/lifestyle/etc.) section.
How will you find the phone number to call? Here’s the beauty of the staff box. At the bottom, in tiny print, underneath all the names and in the midst of a difficult-to-read paragraph, will be the magazine’s phone number and address.
Call that number! And ask to speak to ________, the editorial assistant. Remember, you now have that person’s name, because you looked it up in the staff box.
And always remember to . . .
Research the magazine before you call! In simple language, don’t develop an education story, and ask to speak to the editor of the education section—when the magazine doesn’t have a section devoted to education.
You will come across as unprofessional and amateur. That’s the LAST thing you want for a first impression.
For more updated tips on writing and pitching to the media, please sign up for my free monthly e-newsletter on Substack, Public Perception!