The job of a magazine editor is never easy; it comes with strict deadlines and the pressure to produce timely and quality content for their audience. As PR professionals, we are always looking for ways to get published, but there are a few things we can do to decrease our chances of getting lost in an editor’s inbox.
A few things I’ve learned along the way:
- As a good editor friend of mine recently pointed out, “Read my Magazine!” This may seem like a no brainer, but many times, editors receive pitches that were clearly sent out to mass emails. Don’t make them work to figure out why this is appropriate for their audience. If you’re struggling to make that connection, you’ll end up in the delete box.
- Research! Always verify which person at the publication deals with your subject matter and address them by name. Also, review the publication’s editorial calendar first, and if available, editorial guidelines. I’ve found that most publications are not wedded to their editorial calendar, but it serves as a good snapshot of trends and timely issues.
- Make sure your story is Relevant. Just like the magazine outlets you’re pitching, it’s important for you to always keep the target audience in mind. Think about how the audience will interpret the information and ask yourself; What would make someone share this information with their followers? Will they find this helpful or is it too sales oriented?
- Cut to the chase! You should have a killer subject line that clearly and simply states your idea. For example, don’t say “Here’s news you can use” in your header. Chances are, your email won’t even get opened. Get to the point.
- Build relationships. Get to know the people you’re pitching to. Follow them on social media, connect on LinkedIn, introduce yourself if you see them at a conference.
- Persistence pays off. If you don’t hear back in a few days, send a polite and short follow-up email. I recently followed up with an editor who then responded that our topic was not a good fit. I thanked her and suggested another topic based on the focus of their Fall edition. She responded back immediately with a yes, and gave us a date to submit our draft!
So, you have a great idea to pitch? Always make sure the below points are covered:
- What’s the hook? – Think about your proposed article. What is the driving force behind it? Is there an intriguing question in which the story is trying to address? When you start to write your pitch, lead with the information that will attract the editor’s attention. Hook the reader in the first few sentences.
- Sell your story – Have an angle. Explain why your article will catch the attention of their readers. How will it be different than the hundreds of others on the topic? In other words, you must sell the story. Keep the outline brief, but make sure the appeal of your article is clear and concise.
- Why here? Why now? Why You? – Here is where you can sell yourself (or your colleague). Mention any personal experience or connection to the topic. Or provide links to your website, blog or other outlet that shows your experience. The same goes for “here” and “now.” If it’s not immediately apparent why your story belongs in the publication, clarify that now.
Finally, polish your pitch for spelling, grammar and punctuation. Treat it like an audition and always end with a call to action.