Anna Zeck is the editorial director, 10 Missions Media, the publishers of ADAPT, FenderBender, NOLN and Ratchet+Wrench. In brief, my duties are to direct editorial. But in more detail, I oversee our editorial department of editors and writers, split editor-in-chief duties of our magazines, work on the growth of our department and company, at large; represent our brands at our events and within the industries; etc. It’s hard to summarize!
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
Coronavirus! We’ve switched a lot of our content, stories and plans to be able to significantly focus on helping our readers navigate this time. Despite their classification as an “essential business,” most of our readers are small business owners and this has been a very trying time for them. I feel fortunate to be in a position in the industries where we can truly help them and serve as a practical, positive, solutions-oriented resource for them.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
I flew a plane once and we flew alongside a bald eagle! This totally sounds made up, doesn’t it? Well, to be fair, I’m positive I didn’t do much and essentially just held the control wheel, but, as a 22-year-old, it was pretty cool. And we did fly next to a bald eagle. Plus, it was a heartwarming story about a family that lost their teenage son in a freak accident involving jet fuel and their efforts to give back to fellow young people interested in becoming pilots.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
I likely sound like a broken record, at this point, but what I look for more than anything is the reader service. Because our magazines are B2B, our readers are at the forefront of everything we do. So, I’m constantly asking myself, “What can the reader learn from this? What is the takeaway?” I’m looking for creative, unique strategies from which others can learn. Emphasis on “unique,” too; we always want to make sure we’re covering progressive operations that are pushing the industries we cover forward, so we don’t get in a rut of rehashing the same information and stories.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2012 with a degree in journalism and I’ve been in the industry ever since. I pretty much always wanted to be an editor growing up; I loved magazines and I still have boxes of magazines stored at my parents’ house because I once saw that Anna Wintour had every issue of Vogue displayed in her house and I wanted to do the same, haha. When I look back, I can see how much of an impact magazines had on me, particularly before the Internet became what it is now. They opened my eyes, in a lot of ways, and I don’t take it for granted that I get to have a similar impact on our readers.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
I’m sure everyone says this, but understanding our publications and our readers is the most important. I sincerely love a good pitch, and we’re always looking for good and unique stories to tell, but they need to serve a purpose and have value to our readers. It can be a very mutually beneficial relationship, when both parties are on the same page.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
Please don’t call me to confirm I received your email! I definitely received it. But more seriously, I tend to get most irritated when PR people want to control the story too much and aren’t respectful of the policies we have in place. It makes it difficult to do our jobs, which we take very seriously, and it will often result in us being weary of working with that PR firm again.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
Well, currently I’m quarantined alone in my apartment, but during more “normal times,” I enjoy being out of my apartment as much as possible. I love to travel, spend time outside, attempt to play golf, hang out on a patio with friends during the few months of nice weather we get here in Minnesota, and be on the water. During the rest of the year, I enjoy reading, cooking and watching a lot of reality TV (it’s my sport).