I learned many lessons during my 4-year career in the newspaper industry. One lesson stands out amongst them all: Everyone has a story idea they think is front-page worthy. Journalists get an endless number of calls and emails from readers, citizens, businesses, politicians, and organizations.
The same can be said about pitching to editors of trade magazines. Competition can be stiff and cutting through the noise with your public relations pitch can be difficult. With a little research and patience, however, you can get that earned media placement.
Research the publication
It can be tempting to find a list of publications and send a story idea to all of them, hoping for a bite. Unfortunately, a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work when making a pitch. Research the publications first to make sure your PR pitch will fit with their content theme and focus and is relevant to their readers.
For example, if you're pitching about a recently launched product or program for customers working in structural steel fabrication in a shop, it doesn’t play well for a magazine that covers structural steel erection in the field. Single out the publications that cover a relevant industry.
Also, personalize your PR pitch for each editor you’re planning to contact. Experienced editors are very skilled in weeding out the pitches and emails that have been sent out to everyone. Taking a mass email approach will not only hurt your chances of earning coverage for this story idea, but it can also impact the chance to be considered for coverage in the future.
You will be much more likely to get a response from an editor if you address them directly in your email. Even if they decide to pass on your pitch this time, this personalization helps you start to develop a relationship. An editor may be more likely to consider your pitches in the future.
Prepare a media packet
Even if your PR pitch is of interest to an editor, they may not have time for an interview or to write the article. This is where a media packet, including a news release and some images come in handy.
This information gives the editor the opportunity to cover your idea, even when faced with a time crunch. The goal should always be to develop a relationship with an editor in hopes they will write a feature article about your company. So, don’t attach the media packet on the first email. Instead, offer it as an option and only send it if they ask for it.
Don’t cold call
Your first contact on a PR pitch should always be via email, especially if you don’t yet have a relationship with that editor. A phone call can be considered intrusive, as it forces the editor to stop what they are doing and talk to you. A phone call could also cause the editor to put more focus on hurrying the discussion along than on listening to your pitch. With an email, an editor can read it when they have time to give it their full attention and consideration.
After your first email, calling to follow up is okay, but be prepared to move on if the editor is not interested. If you follow up too much you may be recognized as a pest. This could lead to ignored calls or automatically filtering your emails to the spam folder.
Now that you’ve got some tips for cutting through the noise and starting a good working relationship with an editor, it’s time to fine tune your pitch to make sure you get that earned media spot. Check out our PR Tips for How to Pitch to Journalists for more information. Or reach out to us with any additional questions you may have.