How do I best approach big name magazines to elicit response and get coverage?
It’s hard to get in contact with them as it seems that they are always slammed by pitches and deadlines. Plus, they seem to be more interested in covering monster brands – well, maybe it’s because monster brands know how to approach the magazines…
Thank you very much in advance. I love-love your wonderful website, it is so incredibly helpful!
I have been in PR for more than 20 years and have an intimate understanding of this challenge. First, you are correct in the fact that the bigger brands get bigger play in the magazines. This is because they also have big ad budgets that are much needed funds for keeping the publishing world afloat, so they are rewarded with editorial. This situation has worsened as budgets and titles have been cut.
Sarah is correct with all of her advice. I would add that most of the placement work is now done through email instead of phone calls now. Editors/reporters screen their calls and rarely return a call unless they want the info you are pitching. Also there are so fewer pages to fill with editorial due to cutbacks, so the little guys are being left behind.
A few tips that might help:
Look at the publication you are seeking editorial in. Focus on the “well” pages. These are the monthly columns they must fill in month after month and start to get a pattern of the content they are featuring. Write specifically to that column editor and pitch that space and why your product belongs there.
Also every magazine has an editorial calendar they follow and if you really study the monthly glossies, they usually anniversary topics year after year — so for example every October they feature stories on breast cancer awareness, every May they are focused on suncare, November and December holiday gift giving. See the pattern? Find the right timing for the magazine’s editorial focus and you can increase your odds.
Another thought is to target the online versions of the magazines. I think this is the new space worth fighting for — you can negotiate links back to your site, re-purpose this editorial and make it go farther online to market your goods and services.
It’s all about targeted timing — target the right editor, with the right story at the right time. If all that fails, get your story online in your blog, via social media and play the new PR game — content marketing. That is the next phase of PR — one that is changing the way brands reach their consumer. And in my humble opinion, the best return for your investment.
Hope that helps,
Good tips, thank you! I have found it helpful to look at the Media Kit offered by magazines (which is often found via a link at the bottom of their website) to get a heads up on the type of articles they will be writing throughout the year. This provides me with targeted info to best align my pitches with their upcoming needs.
Fabulous advice, many thanks Sara! One more thing, when making the first contact, is it more effective to call or email them or maybe even mail some print materials/pitch?
Thanks again, i’m your passionate reader forever 🙂
Heather, what a great comment, note taken! Thank you very much for the tip! (your website is amazing btw)
As an editor/publisher of a print and on-line news vehicle – I will tell you that the best pitch is one that takes a different angle specifically designed for our target audience. We serve the 50+ audience in Southern California and are always interested in stories written for seniors, by seniors and about seniors. Keep up the great work you do!
Chris, unbelievably amazing post – thanks so much for sharing your insight, that’s invaluable! Do you think, sending an actual product to the editor along with the pitch can help? Appreciate your response.
remember HARO!!!its a great resource!!!
Amanda, thank you very much for your comment! I’m glad to know there is such a great resource for this audience! Btw, ladies 50+ love our products too 🙂
Thank you so much Sarah! I was just wondering about this myself. Thank you others as well for your great input!
Great post and Chris, thanks for your comment! I have sent emails to a few targeted publication and have been having a good conversation with one. Glad to know I am on the right track, I’ll just keep plugging along and see if I get lucky. I actually did with one smaller publication, I just happened to email the day before a deadline for one of their monthly articles they needed to fill.
That’s a great question from Julia. I wish more people would think about the process of pitching before they do it! I spent decades as a freelance writer and then editor for magazines/newspapers, and now do PR and online publishing for solo-professionals, so I see the challenges from both sides.
First, remember that all editors are overworked and many are underpaid. It’s a high-stress job. Make it easier for them and they’ll look kindly on you!
How can you make it easier on them? By sending them relevant news in a timely manner. Start by going to their site or email them and get their editorial calendar. This calendar dominates the thoughts of everyone on the editorial staff. Know it. Read their rules for submission. ABIDE by those rules! If you don’t understand the rules, email someone on the editorial staff and ask specific questions.
The easiest way to get your foot in the door at most publications is by sending seasonal ideas at the right time. Most magazines have a list of seasonal events they must feature every year, such as particular fashion shows, or particular holidays. These issues are often pulled together, in a rough draft, well in advance of the special event. Check the editorial calendar for these special events issues. Ask how far in advance you must submit a query to be consider for such an issue. For example, the Christmas issue may be pulled together in June. If you submit a Christmassy idea in October, you will be ignored.
Most important of all, when you query, remember that the editorial staff is focused on their readers, not on you. Queries that open by saying, in essence, “I want publicity,” get tossed in the trash. Tell a magazine how you can help them keep their readers happy and you’ll get their attention. Every magazine has a written profile of their average reader. Ask for it. Frame your query in a way that shows you understand this reader. If the average reader is a 30-year old, college educated, childless woman, don’t submit news about a new design in baby cribs.
Most of all, don’t get discouraged. Keep sending appropriate pitches, month after month. Magazines frequently make last-minute changes. If one extra page just opened up, with 24 hours before the magazine goes to print, and YOUR query (along with good photos and all the who-what-where-why-when) is on the editors desk, your lucky day just arrived!
Question– if you get no response from an editor, but you think that your pitch is a match, can you resubmit? Not one month after the next, but after a few months? Or, is one time it and trash that idea if they don’t pick it up?
@Alissa – You should NEVER give up. I wouldn’t keep pitching the exact same idea but keep pitching….. all the time. Like a few mentions above, be sure to check out the editorial calendars so you are pitching on target. Good luck!
This is an easy question – just ask HARO – Peter Shankman is the man!
This is great advice! I am struggling to get my business published, but I know you have to be persistent. Thanks for the advice – I will continue to pursue relevant editors.
Thank you so much for this article! I am just getting into the field of PR, and after 4 years of studying it in college nothing could have prepared me for what it is actually like once you are in the world of PR and having to pitch stories and gain publicity for a client. I have been searching everywhere for the information provided within this article and the comments that followed. I thank all of you actually, thank you!
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Great advice! Keep it short and remember to tailor your pitch to their perspective, tell them what they need to know, not just what you want them hear.