How to Pitch the Media: Editor DJ Carey, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens


– [Debi] No. Keep in it real. – [DJ] Yeah. – [Brenda] You sound amazing, by the way. – [DJ] So real that no
one’s going to pitch me now. (laughing) (upbeat music) – [Debi] DJ, thank you so much
for meeting with me today, to talk a little bit about the publishing and PR profession. – [DJ] Happy to do it. – [Debi] Excellent, excellent. With the changes in
technology, and human behavior it – you know we wanted to
actually turn the tables and review you to figure out, how do we best serve you. You know, we PR professionals
are constantly pitching- – [DJ] Right. – [Debi] So, we really want
to hear first hand what we can do to better serve. – [DJ] How to get to me. – [Debi] Well that too, I mean, that’s all you know… be clear. – [DJ] Yes. – [Debi] First and foremost you have been with
Connecticut Cottages and Gardens for how long? – [DJ] Fifteen years, I launched it. So, I’ve been here, from
the very beginning of this magazine. But the company had had two other magazines before Connecticut. The first magazine we
had was Hamptons Cottages and Gardens, and then the second one was Palm Beach Cottages and
Gardens and then we came out to Connecticut and
then you know we’ve gone on and added more books,
some book stopping. Relevant for us, so you know
it’s constantly evolving. – [Debi] Okay. So, speaking of evolution,
the print category, has experience some challenges, let’s say over the past few years. So, how are you guys and
amazing thriving print publication? – [DJ] I think, I think,
there’s a lot of redundancy that happens in publishing. And I think when we go
through these phases, the weaker ones, who don’t
have a clear identity of who they are really, they can’t survive. We’re lean and mean, we service, areas that are well versed and sophisticated design. And they like our magazine, because if you
think about – if you see a house that you’ve driven
by every day and you get to see it in the pages of a magazine. It means a lot more than
if you’re living in Florida and seeing a house in Chicago. I’m not saying that you don’t love it, but there’s an engagement
level that happens with our magazines that I don’t see
happening with the nationals. – [Debi] Gosh, isn’t that the truth. I can’t tell you how many
times – I mean just loving design in the whole category. But yes, I want to look in that house. – [DJ] And suddenly you’re
like, “Oh, I’m in that house. Oh my god!” (laughing) – [Debi] Okay, so speaking
about, what gets into the magazine, is it like TMZ and you’re like, “Yes, and that’s story’s out.” Or what… – [DJ] I’ve been doing this
since 1979, okay, so at this point I typically know
even if they’re lousy scouting shots. I can tell whether it’s worth it or it’s not. And we have a very simple
process, they choose a designer or an architect,
either calls me or emails me. “Hey, I have a great project,
here’s a brief summary of what it is and here’s some snaps.” That’s all I need. I don’t need five pages of
what you did, and I hate when I get pictures
without any description. And they come separately,
because then I don’t have time to go back and put it together. Honestly, maybe I’m lazy,
I don’t know, but I get six hundred emails a day. – [Debi] Oh, geez. So, I don’t have a lot
of time to go back and forth and have five emails
about the same topic. – [Debi] You’ve talked about
designers and architects. – [DJ] Mhmm. – [Debi] What about, PR people? What’s the best way to get a pitch to you? A: What vehicle if you will – – [DJ] Right. – [Debi] Email, tweet? – [DJ] I love email. And I’m on email 99% of my day. And in terms of PR
pitches, I like an email, I like it to be short,
sweet, to the point. And I like it when it’s actually, packaged as, an idea. So, for example, let’s
say the color of the year is peacock green and
you have five companies. And there’s something
about peacock that runs through all of them. That’s the kind of stuff
that I’ll sit there and read. But if I have to go
through a long intro that says nothing and less and
less PR companies know how to write a pitch. It is shocking, because
I will go through… Five paragraphs and I still
don’t know what I’m being pitched and that makes me nuts. I don’t have that kind of patience. – [Debi] Exactly. – [DJ] I really sound horrible. (laughing) – [Debi] No. You’re keeping it real. – [DJ] Yeah. – [Brenda] You sound amazing by the way. – [DJ] So real, that no
one’s going to pitch me now. (laughing) Yikes. – [Debi] No, so okay, so
you know, talking about the pitch. You said you prefer email, which is great. – [DJ] Mhmm. – [Debi] So, what about
an actual news release? Is – do you want a news
release with like, a pre-pitch, do you want
no news release at all and like you said sort of the, who, what, when, where, why,
right there in the email? – [DJ] It depends on what
type of company, for example, any kitchen, bathroom,
building products, they’re all kind of seasonal and
so I kind of know the introductions are coming out. And I like that. Because we have a section
on what’s new, so, sometimes it’s helpful
to get those seasonally. You know, like, as we’re
going through the spring we want outdoor furniture
stuff and so people start pitching, oh, moving out doors. So, yes, I like that. And then the fabric and
wallpaper guys do it too. So, it makes sense. But, in general if you’re
pitching, let’s say a person or service. It’s gotta be who, what,
where, when and why. And it has to be in the
first two paragraphs. Because I’m lost – – [Debi] You’re not going deeper. – [DJ] No, no – – You either get me then- – [Debi] Right. – [Debi] Or you’re out. – [DJ] Yeah. – [Debi] What’s a good time
for a PR professional to you know, talk about a trend, pitch you a trend a new product, outdoor furniture. Whatever the case might be. – [DJ] We have a funny lead
time where six weeks before publication date, is
when we’re working on it. So, we’re almost like a newspaper. Yes, I’ll sometimes look
at something far out but it’s typically closer
to my publication date. So, that’s really my
timing, is like six weeks before the month. – [Debi] Okay. And then what about a… home project? – [DJ] Right. – [Debi] Interior design, I
mean is that more timeless? – [DJ] That’s timeless. – [Debi] Yeah? Okay. – [DJ] Unless, you know,
they’re on an island and they’re in front of the water. There’s certain – I do
all of my photography for the year from June to September for the next year. Because, I need good weather. – [Debi] Right. – [DJ] And what happens in
Connecticut is my readers don’t want to see a
snowflake after December in any pictures. (laughing) So, I learn that the first year, I was like, “Okay, no
snow on the trees no snow on the land, so exterior shots are out..” So, just so everyone
knows that I’m planning, voraciously from June to September for the following year. – [Debi] Looking forward,
what trends do you see, sort of on the horizon? – [DJ] I’ve just been working
on a trends piece from the kitchen bath industry. So, I can talk about
that, and you know it’s interesting what’s happening
in those two spaces. And in our homes is that,
that smart home is coming in like a bear. But here’s my problem with that, is that when I speak to kitchen… showrooms, or kitchen suppliers or designers. They say that they’re
clients want all that stuff, but the minute they can’t
boil water on their new stove they’re out. And so they’ve all had
to start giving tutorials to their clients because of that gap. In wanting it, and then knowing
how to use it, it’s like the first time that you
get an iPhone, you’re like, “What do I do?” And you need a millennial saying, “No, no, no, no, come ‘ere.” Or you need to go to one of those classes. The younger kids get it,
it’s just I’m saying, the older generation and
they’re the ones that have the money to install
these incredible systems into their house, don’t
always know how to use it. They want it and they
love it, but it’s kind of like, there’s a gap. – [Debi] Do you see a tipping point? Because I know now,
it’s like literally, you you can look ahead and go, “Okay, I’m going
to walk in my house and the oven is going to pop on. All the perfect lighting
is going to come on, you know the television..” or whatever the case might be, – [DJ] Right. – [Debi] I mean, is there a tipping point to that? Will we never have to
touch another light switch or wall oven again? – [DJ] Yeah, which I think
is kind of weird, because it reminds me of when I
was a kid and all those sci-fi shows taught- showed
pictures of that, and was so… It’s cold. It’s cold. We’re tactile people and
I think there is a point where it doesn’t work. I think, if it makes your
life easier, I get it. Yeah, the lights should go
on when I enter the house. – [Debi] So, what – we’re going to get a little more fun here. – [DJ] Okay. – [Debi] What is… The most creative pitch you’ve ever received? Or even something that
just, you were like, “I’d probably would’ve
never covered that, but the angle…” something different. – [DJ] Sometimes, it
doesn’t come in as a pitch. It’s like you meet someone
and they just happen to tell you something. My associate editor was on a house tour… And there was this stop on one of the local restaurants. And she went and there
was just this incredible vertical wall of greenery. And she asked the PR
person at the hotel, she said, “Oh, this is so
and so, so you should meet her.” So, a month later Mary met
Renee and then it evolved into me going up and shooting her farm. And she blew me away. She creates live pantries… for all the top chefs in New York. And she’s a single
twenty-seven year old mama and she’s out there with
raising pigs, sheep… she does all the lettuces
and so we photographed her for a story because
I loved the fact that she had this vision and her passion was quiet but I felt it immediately. And I was so excited. – [Debi] Oh my goodness. – [DJ] Yes, so it’s things
like that that turn me on. Things that I don’t expect
and it usually comes via a person, not… Once or twice I’ve gotten it, but I have to say… Yeah, I don’t think I’ve gotten a wild memorable pitch. Sorry. – [Debi] So… (laughing) – [DJ] Sorry. – [Debi] So, ultimately, what
I’m hearing, the underlying theme is… story. There has to be a good story. – [DJ] Yeah, either you
tell a story or you’re done. You’ve got nothing. I mean we’re both storytellers. The editors are storytellers,
but you’re the ones pitching the initial story
and then we run with it. And I like that synergy,
and that’s an important synergy for any PR
company to have with the press. Because then you rely on each other and as a press person I’m open to the next idea that you guys have. And it’s that great
synergy that makes it all happen and it cements a
relationship and partnership. – [Debi] So, once again,
less of the selfish pitch and more of the- begin to
at least craft the story for you so you can see that. – [DJ] And it be like made
for my magazine there’s nothing worse than somebody
pitching me something that’s from mass market, I was like, “Have you even opened my magazine?” It’s insulting. – [Debi] Yeah, yeah. – [DJ] And I get annoyed
because it’s like, “Why would you pitch this to me.” – [Debi] Right, right. – [DJ] And it doesn’t make any sense. – [Debi] So that’s
probably maybe one of your- – [DJ] Yeah – [Debi] Pet peeves. – [DJ] Yeah, that’s a pet
peeve and the other thing is I want contact names on
every piece that you send me. Because if you embedded
document in an email, I’ll print out a document and
sometimes forget to print out the email and then
I’m like, “Oh my god, who sent me this,” and I
have to go back through all my emails. And because I get six
hundred even though I put them in files, it takes
me too long and I get frustrated. – [Debi] Yes. So, keep it
packaged, keep that information together. – [DJ] Simple, it’s like,
assume I’m the dumbest person on the earth. Which sometimes I can be. (laughing) But you know, make it so
simple that I can’t fail in getting your client out there. – [Debi] Right, right. So, email you definitely-
email is a great way. – [DJ] Instagram, I love. – [Debi] Instagram, okay, excellent. – [DJ] I’ve gotten actually
some interesting projects and products via Instagram. That something- You know I follow a lot
of people on the industry so sometimes I’ll be
like, “Oh, what’s this.” And then I get engaged with that. – [Debi] Okay. So, again… – [DJ] But the- you have
to manage the story that your clients put up there
so it’s, there’s a lot of junk on all of these
social… platforms that you know it has to well
edited, it has to be a great story. Even, on Instagram. – [Debi] Right. Let’s talk a little
bit about social media. Once again everybody’s
like, “Print is dead.” Although you and I had a conversation- – [DJ] I don’t think so, but… – [Debi] There’s something
tactile and lovely about it. – [DJ] And I also think
we’re the best storytellers because you take your clients product. You package it and then
you send me the package. I look at the package, I
unwrap the package, and I put the package in a setting. And that’s the whole system. – [Debi] Okay, I just loved what you said, that just told an entire story about how we as PR people can better serve you. – [DJ] Right. – [Debi] That was beautiful. – [DJ] Oh good. – [Debi] So, so social media… what’s sort of the downside so obviously print’s thrived. – [DJ] Speed. And I also feel like it’s speed dating. I don’t know you get
hot on one site and then you get turned off. It, it, it’s like quick hits. Like I love to run through
Instagram, I spend an hour and a half everyday
on Instagram at lunch. I sit there and I go
through, and I’m looking and I’m trolling. But sometimes I, there’s
not enough information, and I get stuck. Or I get bored. So, I, I think it’s the
speed in which it happens and it’s also, you don’t go deep. So, for me to think about
how to use something it excites me, but it
doesn’t get me to actually use it. It piques my interest. – [Debi] Right. – [DJ] And then the onus
is on me to follow up. So, I’m like, “How much
time do I have to do that?” So, that’s the downfall for me. – [Debi] Okay. And so, I know
Instagram you get stories- – [DJ] Right. ideas, whatever so what about Twitter? Do you utilize- – [DJ] I used to do Twitter,
but I see that more as a corporate thing. I don’t see, I was
introduced to Instagram by Tony Baratta, who’s a very famous interior designer, and is a good friend. We were out at some function
and he’s on his phone and it’s like, “Tony what are you doing?” And he goes, “Instagram,
oh my god, its great.” And I was like, “Really?” (laughing) And he decided he was
spending way too much time he stopped and then I was then hooked. – [Debi] Oh my – – [DJ] And I was like, “Thank you, Tony.” (laughing) But for anyone who’s in visual arts… Instagram is our candy. Because we’re looking
at images and it either piques our interest or it doesn’t. But it’s like watching a
long silent movie, you know, and you’re looking and
you’re looking and then you stop. And you’re like, “Oh my god.” – [Debi] Right. – [DJ] And that’s what most
editors, respond to Instagram because that’s who – that’s our DNA. Is all visual storytelling. – [Debi] Right. – [DJ] So… – [Debi] What about video? And the use of video? – [DJ] We’re doing a lot
more video on our digital platforms, just because we’re able to tell a story through our lens. And we’ve offered it
to a lot of advertisers and they’re very happy
with how it’s editorialized and I think the consumer loves that. Again it’s visual
storytelling, I think that is where we are now. Is that people just… the eyes take in so much more information than the ears do. – [Debi] Right. So, what about
from a pitching perspective? Sending, let’s say – – [DJ] Oh, I love videos. – They should be a video. – [DJ] Oh, my god I love that. – [Debi] Okay. – [DJ] But it has to be short. – [Debi] Yes. – [DJ] Otherwise I need popcorn. (laughing) – [Debi] Note to self: keep
it short and send you popcorn. – [DJ] Exactly. – [Debi] What about a phone call? – [DJ] Oh, I love a phone call. But I love a phone call
if its someone who really thought about what they’re pitching me. I don’t want like, “Hi,
I’m calling, I just wanted to make sure you got my press release?” I’m like, “Really? Uh, no.” – [Debi] Have bring something of value. – [DJ] Yeah, because I
think my generation still uses the phone. I still call up people
’cause sometimes I need that connection. Especially if I have that
relationship with them. (upbeat music plays) – [Debi] Now, we’re going
to have a little of fun. – [DJ] Oh, oh. Oh, oh. I’m scared. – [Debi] Yeah, we’re going
to get to know you a little. – [DJ] Oh, geez. – All right. No, no, super simple. – Okay. – This or that. – [Debi] All right. So, mountain or beach? – [DJ] It depends on the season. (laughing) Sorry, I’m a skier and swimmer. – [Debi] A woman who knows what she likes. – [DJ] Yeah, yeah. So, you know, if I’m on
a tropical island, yeah the beach. But more of a pool swimmer because I hate, I’m afraid of sharks. I swear to god they’re
all off ten feet from the shore. And this summer you know we had a scare up in Cape Cod. They’re were a lot of
sharks, not that far off. So, I was the generation
that went to see Jaws so… I hear that music
and I get out of the water. – [Debi] Oh, my goodness. Okay, cat’s or dogs? – [DJ] Oh, dogs. Cats, oh my god, no that
litter box thing not into that. Okay. – [Debi] Bullet points or paragraphs? – [DJ] Bullet points. Yeah. – [Debi] Text or a phone call? – [DJ] Depends whose calling,
if it’s you I’ll take the – I love the call,
if it’s someone I’ve never known and they’re
going to go into this tirade I’m like, “No.” – [Debi] Yeah, voicemail. – [DJ] Text me. Yeah. – [Debi] Okay. Tea or coffee. – [DJ] Coffee. Black. – [Debi] Oh god, I wish I
could drink black coffee. Serf or turf? – [DJ] Serf. Which is, my family
hates me for that ’cause my husband’s a really good griller. And I’m like, “Eh, no.” – So… – Yeah, okay. I know. (laughing) – [Debi] Who knew. Okay, morning bird or night owl? – [DJ] Oh morning. I love the morning. I seize the day. I get up, I do meditation,
I do stretches or I go to a spin class or I walk. Love the morning. Because this is when I
really plan out my day and I’m like, “Yeah, I
can handle anything.” And then the first phone
call could change that in a second. – [Debi] You have control
still, before it just- Okay, so, what’s your guilty pleasure? – [DJ] I have a lot. And I hate to admit it. Let’s see, I love Netflix. So, there are a couple
series that- I just found a new series that I like. I couldn’t stop, I was
addicted, and it was so good. – [Debi] What’s a- what’s
one you’ve binged watched. – [DJ] That was recently- what
was the movie that Whitney Houston was in with… “The Bodyguard”. But it’s a British. – [Debi] Wait what? – [DJ] Oh my god, it’s so good. Blew me away. I was chewing my nails,
I was like, “Oh my god.” You have to watch it, “The Bodyguard.” And it takes place in
England, it is so good. (phone pings) – [Debi] Oh my goodness, okay done. It’s on my list. Okay, now, last question
and literally the most important question of all. – [DJ] You know, I’m
Irish, so make it good. (laughing) – [Debi] I think I might know the answer. Whiskey, wine, or water? – [DJ] My husband would say,
whiskey, I sometimes say, water, but wine is always appropriate. – [DJ] That is why we get along so well. – Oh. – Cheers. – [DJ] Cheers, and is the morning. (laughing) (upbeat music plays)

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