People Magazine is the world’s leading celebrity media outlet and delivers readers the latest news and exclusive interviews of the most compelling people of our time. As the Senior Style Editor for People Magazine and People.com, Alex Apatoff is always looking for timely, relevant brand stories or products that have a celebrity angle. Below she shares her likes and dislikes when it comes to pitching.
How do you prefer to receive pitches?
By email! More specifically, from people who have already familiarized themselves with what I cover and who know how to pitch briefly and compellingly.
How far in advance do you work?
On the site? Anywhere between minutes (for anything breaking) to about three weeks (for bigger things like a holiday gift guide, or franchise galleries we can plan for).
What is the best time to send pitches?
Mid week, late afternoon. Friday after noon, they’ll get buried. Monday, we are closing the mag – anything not urgent for that day gets totally ignored.
What types stories/pitches are you looking for?
People is a little bit of a narrower focus than other women’s interest publications because almost everything has to go through the lens of celebrity. So extremely timely stories with some celebrity angle are the most relevant and easiest ways to get on the site. I’m happy to consider any pitch because there are product opportunities occasionally (and even more coming down the pike), but they have to be appropriate to our readers in terms of price, what they might actually buy, etc.
I’m happy to consider any pitch because there are product opportunities occasionally (and even more coming down the pike), but they have to be appropriate to our readers in terms of price, what they might actually buy, etc.
What makes a great pitch?
Specificity to me and my outlet (especially knowing exactly where something might fit – almost nothing annoys me more than a photo of something/someone asking if I can just “pop it up” or “do a quick post” on it. This is People.com, we don’t just “pop” anything up unless it’s huge/newsy, has the ability to get to the point immediately, has timeliness/relevance and has an understanding of what will work. Blurry photos of celebs wearing your jewelry fifteen months after they wore them doesn’t work.
And just a general beg to all publicists – please, please consider the sorry state of our inboxes. I get about 1k emails a day. Huge attachments of flat-shot jumpsuits clogs my inbox and makes it hard to do my job. Consider small Jpegs and a drop box link to your high res images. I try to respond to every email but just by virtue of sheer volume I can’t. I WILL, however, respond to everything I can use imminently – and I file everything that isn’t urgent but might be helpful in the future.
So if you follow up four times (please don’t, but if you do) and don’t hear from me, the reason is that it won’t work for People. If you have another pitch that will, I promise I’ll write you back!
If you are interested, what do you need to move forward?
I’ll always ask! It’s usually just high res images as we are unlikely to shoot anything. But the more special and exclusive to us something is, the better. If you can offer something just for us I’ll jump at the chance!
What is the best way for a publicist to build a relationship with you?
Patience, friendliness, a clear understanding of what will work for my publication and never calling me within the same day she sent an email “just checking to see if I got it.”
And please, say thank you! I have been surprised by how many major placements recently have gone totally ignored (even in print!) until I ask “did you see it?” It’s work to get your product in and a nice email makes me feel great about it.
What is a guarantee that a publicist will never hear back from you?
Begging for favors I don’t owe, for pitches she knows won’t work for the site. Calling me in tears begging for placement, offering a cash bribe in return for placement, sending seven emails in one day about the same thing all with huge attachments. (All have happened. All weren’t great.) But above all: promising an exclusive and then being shocked when it “leaks.” Girl, bye!
What do you wish more publicists knew about your job?
I love working with publicists. I can’t do my job without them, and good ones make my life so much easier. Just being mindful about the sheer volume of emails we get each day and really thinking before sending blanket emails makes everything work more smoothly. I’m so grateful for all your hard work and always hopeful to find the right thing on which to work together.
Just being mindful about the sheer volume of emails we get each day and really thinking before sending blanket emails makes everything work more smoothly.