With Stuart Elliott, They Broke the Mold



Stuart Elliott is leaving the New York Times

Get mentioned in a positive light in a Stuart Elliott advertising column and call it a day.  Earn a positive review of your client or your brand’s latest advertising campaign, and call it a week…or a month. For the agencies, companies and chief marketing officers across the US who have yearned for a mention in a Stuart Elliott advertising column in the New York Times, well, time has run out.

After December 19, Mr. Elliott, the preeminent advertising columnist in the US, will no longer be with the newspaper after serving it and its readers for nearly 24 years.

It’s still unclear who will be handling advertising duties once Mr. Elliott exits the paper.  He’s one of about 100 senior Times employees who recently accepted a buyout offer from the newspaper.   What is clear though is whether you’re a public relations person who has pitched story ideas to Mr. Elliott over the years (and there are scores out there), an ad agency exec who has talked shop with him, or a CMO who trusted him to write a balanced article, filling the void he’s leaving will be very difficult, if not impossible.

Why impossible? Well for one, advertising columnists at big regional and national newspapers are a dying breed.  They are being phased out as advertising has taken on a decidedly digital approach and also as daily newspapers continue to divest in sections that may be well read but only by niche audiences who are aren’t big enough to help keep the lights on.

I’m not one of those who have enjoyed a long relationship with Mr. Elliott unlike so many others who have wished him well on Twitter.  My first email engagement with him ever was very recent — this past September right around Labor Day — but he made a fast and strong impression, true to his reputation. Given his stature and range of responsibilities at the New York Times, and the fact that scores of PR people who have a marketing or branding or advertising agency as a client are always competing for his attention, I was amazed at his responsiveness. Amazed because today’s public relations-media environment is to the point where even the most compelling story ideas are missed unintentionally by harried journalists. Much of the time, email pitches – even the good ones — from PR people aren’t even acknowledged by reporters as being received or reviewed.  I realize tons of pitches miss the mark and aren’t well researched.  But here I’m talking about solid story ideas from accomplished PR people (including yours truly) I talk with all of the time.

But I digress.

If Mr. Elliott of the New York Times can make time to respond to an email inside of 24 hours, sends his direct phone number to you so you can call him to amplify a story idea, to retweet pretty much every one of the dozens and dozens of tweets that were posted when news of his buy out was made public, well you’d think others would be able to follow suit.  Word is he even spent part of last weekend emailing contacts he had been working with on future story ideas, just so his contacts wouldn’t be left hanging.

Pretty cool, huh? Who does this stuff anymore?  One fewer moving forward.




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