When it comes to media and PR there is nothing like a feature or mention in a glossy magazine but the glossy magazine and the print media has changed significantly over recent years. It is an industry that has seen massive job cuts, publications that have ended production, and other magazines that have changed formats, going digital only. All of the changes can make it difficult for anyone to navigate the magazine business, especially entrepreneurs looking to pitch stories to get press, publicity, and media mentions.
I gathered a few tips and advice for you in an effort to help you navigate the magazine business and better pitch for a magazine mention.
How to pitch MAGAZINES
- Local and trade magazines – the editor is likely a good place to start. Local and trade publications are a great place to start but remember, your pitch should be just as strong and on message with the topics the publication focuses on.
- Major magazines often have multiple editors for different beats. Check out a staff directory online or pick up a print edition and have a look at the masthead at the front of the magazine. The masthead shows you who works on the magazine and tells you who does what. Review the titles AND topics each editor or staff writer covers to identify the correct contacts. Twitter is also your friend here. Once you find a few names in the masthead of the magazine follow them on Twitter and see what they are sharing.
- Don’t reach out to the publisher – they are more concerned with operations and advertising than editorial. The only time you might reach out to the publisher is if it is a small publication, there is a chance the publisher is also acting as the editor so be sure to check before hitting send on your pitch. Again, Twitter or Linkedin will help here.
- Look through several issues to identify who are the writers/contributors. Are there regular staff writers – meaning they are employed and paid staff of the magazine. Are there regular contributors who are freelance writers – who get paid to write but are not employed by the magazine. Or are there authors who are constantly changing –meaning they have submitted an article that they are not getting paid for. Figuring out this will help you come up with a plan and help you decide how and what to pitch. Be sure to use the publication to follow up on this and also head over to Twitter to check out each writer or contributors bios.
- Look for freelance writers/contributors who publish in the magazine you are targeting. If their past portfolio of work fits with your story pitch, go through them instead of the editor. Many freelance writers contribute to several different magazines and if they love your story they may re-purpose it for several different platforms. Pitching the freelance writer means you will not reach out to the publication yourself because the writer will pitch the magazine on their own since they will be paid to write the story. I may sound like a broken record here but again Twitter is your friend. Head over to Twitter and follow them and see what they write about or talk about. Make a connection on Twitter that can lead to a work relationship.
As you can tell I mention Twitter a lot. I think Twitter is your best friend when it comes with finding journalists, connecting with journalists and building a relationship with journalists. Twitter also allows you to do some great research at a click of a button. You can see what a journalist is sharing, commenting on, writing about which will ultimately help you refine your story pitches so you can find press success. Twitter makes the media more accessible than ever before and that is a good thing for anyone looking to get press, publicity, and media mentions.
In an effort to help you better pitch magazines for press and mentions, I reached out to my friend Jackie Gillard
, a freelance writer and Principal at Papaya Jambalaya Communications. She offers up some fantastic tips and advice for anyone looking to pitch a magazine for coverage.
Principal at Papaya Jambalaya Communication
Q: Who is the best person for entrepreneurs to reach out to if they want to get featured in a glossy magazine?
JG: An entrepreneur needs to determine if he/she wants to write the story or have a freelancer/staff writer do so. Glossy magazines (including their digital extensions) generally like to deal with writers who have some writing experience and some sort of portfolio to review prior to assigning a story, so if an entrepreneur hasn’t written professionally in the past, it may be harder to get published without the help of a freelancer or someone on staff at the publication.
Q: Is it better to reach out to the editor or staff writer or a freelance writer/contributor?
JG: It’s sometimes a guessing game who to contact at a publication. For online blogs or digital magazines, it’s typically the Digital Editor, but not always and they don’t always have a Digital Editor. Some digital spaces do offer a “Submissions” page if you search that criteria. For print publications, each one is different. My suggestion is to either call the publication and ask for the name and email address of the person who accepts pitches, or network with mutual business connections to find out that information. It’s always best to send a pitch to a person and not a general mailbox if you can.
Finding a publication/digital space that is a good fit for what the entrepreneur wants to discuss is also key. Homework is again required to read various publications and understand their tone and style. (This is typically done by a freelancer if the entrepreneur isn’t writing the piece.)
Q: What are your thoughts when it comes to pitching online publications and blogs? Should people use the same techniques as pitching traditional media?
JG: Prior to drafting a pitch, a story topic and angle have to be decided upon. If for example, an entrepreneur works in the personal finance market, there are going to be loads of articles already published about personal finance. Research what the publication has already published on the topic chosen, and if they’ve put out many articles on that topic, it may be better to pick something with less exposure. Picking a topic isn’t enough, however. It has to be narrowed down to a very specific angle on that topic. So, back to the “personal finance” topic — it probably wouldn’t garner much response to pitch an article simply about “personal finances.” However, a discussion about “How to save for that pool you’ve been dreaming of in this hot summer weather” is a specific angle. Keep in mind also that print publications typically work 3-5 months in advance of publication date, so if a topic is seasonal or date-related, the pitch has to happen long before the article gets published!
There are many different ways to pitch a story and varying opinions about it in the industry. Typically, a short introduction of yourself is just good manners with a very brief outline of your previous work. Start with a good opening line to introduce your topic, followed by a very brief outline of what the article or post will discuss and in how many words. If the publication or website has sections, include what section you are pitching. Ending the pitch with a couple sentences telling the editor why their audience would be interested in your story is also helpful. The pitch should be as brief as possible, but still, contain all of this pertinent information. Don’t ever include the entire post or article unless an editor has asked to see it!
Follow-up is also a tricky subject with many schools of thought. Some writers wait a month or more, as some publications only have editorial meetings monthly, while other writers wait two months. If a pitch is timely (a story pertaining to something in the news or a hot social media item) it’s best to include the word “Timely” in the subject line so the editor knows.
Q: What tips do you have for entrepreneurs when it comes to the stories entrepreneurs want to pitch?
JG: Don’t be disappointed if no response is received. Editors get hundreds of pitches and very few respond to each one, especially if the pitch is from someone the editor doesn’t know. For non-timely pitches, if three months and one follow-up email have passed with no reply and there is still no response, I usually send a quick email politely letting the publication know you are going to pitch your story idea elsewhere, just as a courtesy in the event they are interested but have been too busy to respond.
WHO TO PITCH SERIES