This might sound obvious, but you’d be amazed by the number of pitchers who clearly don’t do their research before contacting their desired publication. Who would pitch to a magazine without having ever read it? You’d be surprised…
Every editor will have a stockpile of stories to tell you about this. The pitches they’ve received that are so incredibly off-brand the person emailing them must, surely, have sent it to the wrong person.
Do NOT email a car magazine asking if they’d like to write about your handbag. Do NOT email a tech magazine asking if they’d like to promote your wallpaper brand. A magazine aimed at 30-something women probably won’t want to hear your target customer is a man in his fifties.
It might sound like common sense, but every day I hate to think of how many people waste energy writing and reading wasted pitches.
Before you approach someone with your story idea, consider these five steps.
Step 1. Identify the publication you want coverage in
You’ve identified the ideal magazine or website you’d love coverage to appear in. Now, it’s time to get even more focused. Think carefully about exactly who at this magazine to reach out to. Check out the masthead which is at the front of every magazine – the list of in-house staff – and look for either an editor, a deputy editor or features editor. They’re the person in the magazine with an eye for interest-grabbing stories. They’re also the gate-keeper you need to impress.
Step 2. How’s your story lookin’?
Does your story have a “middle” yet? This is what you need to ask yourself before you pitch to media. I know it’s tempting to pitch too soon and I’m definitely not saying wait until your company’s 10-year anniversary. But at least wait until there is a start and middle to your story. Wait until you sign that kick-arse deal. Wait until you have sale figures you’re proud of. Or, wait until you face your first real challenge – the one you think could crush you – and overcome it.
Step 3. How timely is it?
Consider your timeline and also the publication’s. Do you have a new product dropping, a new book coming out, an event happening? How could that fit into their upcoming print schedule?
Step 4. Consider upcoming ‘content occasions’
Is your product seasonal? Most magazines love to fill their January issues with health and fitness products (new year, new you!). They also work around other annual occasions – Valentine’s day, Christmas … We personally plan content around less clichéd occasions. We love to promote strong, kick-arse women around International Women’s Day. We tailor contents to big events in the start-up world, like Start-up Con – the largest startup conference in Oz.
Step 5. Why do you stand out exactly?
Show where you fit in – or tell them why you stand out! Think of this whenever you’re pitching, and a smart features editor won’t let an opportunity pass by them. Editors want amazing content. Help them to create it.
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