August 12, 2010
/ by Anna Marevska
Whether working for a daily, weekly or a monthly publication, expectations of an editor are the same: Publish information that matters most to readers. Paul Snyder, a recent addition to the editorial staff of Consumers Digest, fully grasps this concept and wants to wrap his mind around as much as possible to help his audience.
“I am excited,” he said. “This is a solid step up in my writing and editing career… It’s a new set of challenges and a good way for me to hone a lot of what I’ve learned.”
Snyder joined the staff of the popular consumer magazine as an associate editor in July and is responsible for compiling information for five different departments – Consumer Alert, What’s New, Car Smart, Marketplace and Healthy Living.
Handling five different sections means a solid amount of reporting, writing and editing copy for Snyder. He writes 41 items every two months, a very different writing dynamic then his previous job as a reporter for The Daily Reporter, a daily publication providing legal notices, government legislative decisions, and business, construction and industry news for Wisconsin’s construction industry.
“With the newspaper, I was expected to find, report and write two news stories of at least 500 words every day, no excuses,” he explained. “With a bi-monthly magazine, you’re also working every day, but if one or two items are taking a little while to develop, you’ve got more time to pull it together.”
Despite the lessened daily writing load, Snyder is now a part of a publication with a circulation of over one million, as opposed to The Daily Reporter whose circulation is considerably smaller at less than 3,000.
Snyder’s new challenge is not only writing for a larger audience, but addressing an entirely new sort of reader – consumers. He previously wrote from a business standpoint but he says writing and advocating for consumers isn’t daunting or particularly unnerving.
“I’m still in that ‘new guy’ phase where everything is interesting,” he explained. “I’ve never been a car guy, for example, so having to learn about all these new car models and systems is completely new territory, as is being forced to reassess how I look at the consumer market.”
Consumers Digest provides consumers with product reviews and emphasizes convenience, safety and value. Content is a quick snapshot aimed to make readers as informed as possible before purchasing a product or service, so they can spend their money wisely.
He added, “There’s going to be a bit of a learning curve for me at first when it comes to car and health issues. But I can cotton onto concepts and ideas pretty quickly, so it’s just a matter of learning how all these different systems work and what’s driving new innovations, studies, alerts.”
Having worked in a “hard-nosed grind with an editor that questioned everything” prior to his new position certainly helped his transition. He learned to work with a thick skin and developed a different level of curiosity which eventually translated into interviewing and writing.
“I don’t expect to be coddled,” he said. “And I know I am being paid to deliver what’s asked of me. I think having that kind of work ethic instilled in me early in my career made me a lot better equipped for subsequent jobs.”
Without a doubt Snyder’s ambitious nature and writing background adhere to the publication’s editorial integrity and level of authority. So what does this young editor have planned for the future?
“I want to get to a point where I know the material so well that I can really put as much as I can into the 50 to 250 words allotted for each piece and people come out really informed, “ he said. “I want each of the 41 items I’m putting in the magazine to appeal to the reader so they are not looking at the sections so much as a buffet – I’ll read this and that, but not that or that – but more of a Thanksgiving dinner, where you want everything on the table.”
Snyder strongly advises PR professionals to think about Consumers Digest audience prior to pitching. All pitches must answer the question: What does this product or information mean to the consumer?
“[A pitch] is going to catch my eye if I see that it’s something useful to our audience,” Snyder said. “If there is good information on that, then it’s likely going to make me go to my other editors and say, ‘We should check this out’ and give you a call back.”
He added, “I don’t like getting every little press release about hirings and company issues – again, if it means nothing to the person picking up our magazine, it doesn’t mean much to me.”
Keep in mind the publication’s deadlines and publishing schedule as they are crucial to pitching.
“A lot of PR professionals I’ve talked to are good at pointing me in the right direction if I need more information,” Snyder said. “Deadlines are a huge component of our jobs and the faster we can get the answers and talk to people we need to talk to, the easier everyone’s life is. So keep that in mind.”
Snyder wants to receive all press materials via e-mail.
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