We all know how it’s important to approach a named person at a magazine when we want to send them some work, or pitch an idea, and scrutinising the publication for this information isn’t always easy. The staff list can’t always be found at the beginning of the magazine - sometimes it’s in the middle, or even near the end.
However, these days, it is becoming a little easier with the advent of what I call the Meet The Team section - an area devoted to the thoughts or opinions of the staff. These comments are often tied into the theme of the issue. Country Walking magazine, for example, might ask the staff for a few words about their favourite view in an issue devoted to Britain’s best views. Country Living magazine has gone one step further and devoted a whole article to their staff’s Christmas Projects. (Yes, the December issue is out now - see picture.)
From the freelance writer’s perspective this is a great way of finding a useful contact name, along with a photo of the staff (thus proving that those who work for magazines are not rejection-issuing dragons, but real people), and occasionally, their contact details. What makes these useful to the freelance writer is that these pieces often include junior members of staff, not just the editors, and it’s these people who can be useful.
For example, the editorial secretary may be the best person to contact first if you want to pitch an idea by phone to an editor and want to ensure you don’t call them just as the publication is going to press. Nor do you want to ring them when they’re just about to go into a meeting. A quick email or phone call to the editorial secretary may just steer you to the perfect time to call.
Likewise, an editorial assistant may be a better contact to email if you want to check whether your submission arrived safely. And the administrative assistant can be a good starting point to find out who’s the best person to contact regarding the missing payment you’re still waiting for.
So, the next time you come across one of these Meet The Team sections, or articles, get out your contacts book and add the names, job titles and contact information (and don’t forget to record the date you added them so you know how up to date they are when you next look them up). You never know when they may come in useful.