17 Feb 5 creative ways to pitch print magazines
It’s clear that today’s media environment has made placements in print magazines more and more challenging for the Average Josephine. Although the blood loss may have slowed, magazines have reduced editorial pages significantly over the past few years. Of the pages that remain, many are forced to promise coverage to advertisers in order to stay afloat. Add to that the fact that most editors are doing 3x the job they used to because of staff cuts, and it’s a tough challenge.
Yet print magazines still remain (in my opinion, certainly not everyone’s) an important part of many media campaigns. Getting an editor’s attention can be key to promoting your product, book or service. In the last couple of years, we’ve started doing things a little differently here at Wax…and I’d like to share some of the creative ways we get an editor’s attention.
1. Find them on Twitter and introduce yourself. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have…for some reason editors, writers and producers are much more willing to “make friends” on Twitter. Even when I don’t know someone, a simple tweet or email that says “saw that you often cover XXXX when I was on Twitter…would it be okay if I sent you a pitch on my product?” That casual approach, with permission to pitch, has worked tremendously well for us. Most journalists have been told to increase their Twitter presence as well. If you can make introductions and help them do that, go for it. (Note: this approach works well for bloggers too. But keep your first email SHORT…don’t try to sneak in a pitch or they’ll ignore you)
2. Read the publication and find out if they use custom content. Many magazines are bootstrapped and it’s expensive to pay freelance writers. If you’re a good writer or already a published author, offer to write a piece for free that fits within their editorial and provides exposure for your expertise. I got a placement for a business magazine recently where I had my client, an advertising executive, interview HIS client, a car dealer, about how they’d survived over the last couple years. The resulting piece showed my client’s strong relationship with his client and provided some great survival tips from the car dealer. Magazines like Success Magazine regularly consider custom content and it’s becoming much more common everywhere.
Remember however, if you provide content it has to be REAL content, not a thinly veiled advertisement. Look at your local print magazines first, and offer to write for them. Then use those clips to gain the attention of the national magazines. Your bio will be your “ad” and if you like to write, this will be quite fun.
3. You are probably reading HARO, but sign up for ReporterConnection.com as well…I’ve seen some GREAT queries there. If you’ve got some budget, I strongly advise getting the Profnet feeds. (For more on HARO and Profnet, visit my post on those ) I may get a nasty Peter Shankman comment on this, but Profnet is where traditional media send most of their serious queries. On HARO, you’ll see a lot of fantastic online opportunities and some TV/print ones, but national journalists repeatedly tell me they get their best sources from Profnet and regard it as a much stronger resource than HARO, probably because companies and publicists pay for the subscription.
4. If you’d like to go the expert source route, then send your profile to editors and update them regularly on things you’re doing and current events on which you can comment. You may never hear anything, but get a call a year later for a fast quote. This happened to me with SELF Magazine…my environmental client was called for a story a year after I started pitching the editor…never once hearing back until then. But remember if they call or email get back to them with lightning speed and make yourself immediately available. They’re on a deadline and you need to be at their disposal, not the other way around. I have clients who will drop what they’re doing to get an interview done…believe me those writers and editors are immensely grateful and pay them back in spades. I can’t say this enough…have a sense of urgency or you’re dead.
5. Go to New York or LA and meet them. I’ve met the talent booker for Letterman, editors from most of the major magazines and many other journalists from attending get togethers for PR’s in those cities. For example, the Entertainment Publicists Professional Society hosts frequent “meet the press” events in LA and NY – and you can attend even if you’re not a publicist or marketer. The information is always really helpful and at the end of the panel or presentation, wait your turn in line to meet the journalists. Give them your card and ask them if you might send them some story ideas. They will almost always read your pitches (unless they’re dreadful) after meeting you face to face. (Need some good advice on writing a pitch? Go to my “how to pitch” series or make a comment and I’ll email you some pitches that have worked well)
You can also call and let them know you’ll be in town and try to get an appointment for a “deskside briefing” to talk about your book or product. These are really hard to get nowadays, but if you’re persistent they might give you five minutes.
Let me know any creative ways YOU’VE gotten magazine placements lately. I’m really interested to hear!