Everyone has a story to tell, so naturally, journalists, bloggers and producers are constantly drowning in pitches. How can we be sure that our stories will interest the media? The first step is to find out what topics are relevant and when they’ll be covered.
Reviewing the editorial calendars of publications you’re interested in contacting is an effective way to find out who may be interested in your story or product. Editorial calendars are yearly coverage schedules used to plan advertising campaigns and editorial pitching efforts. Newspapers and broadcast media generally don’t provide editorial calendars. However, many magazine editors and bloggers publish annual calendars of the upcoming articles or topics they’ll be covering. Even though the best time to research editorial calendar topics is late fall/early winter, you can find opportunities at other times to pitch your story or product.
Many media ask that pitches be submitted no less than 90 days prior to publication. So for example, you just might have the perfect pitch for a Valentine’s Day craft and want to feature it in Better Homes & Gardens, then consider reaching out to the editor in November. But if it’s past 90 days and you’d like to still give it shot, go ahead! Now, if you’re looking to pitch your Valentine’s Day topic to a radio or television station and it’s already January, don’t hesitate to reach out. They may also ask you to appear or call-in to the show to talk about your idea.
Finding editorial calendars is really not that difficult. But you most likely won’t see a tab for “editorial calendars” when you visit the publication’s website. Instead, you’ll find it located it in a media kit or advertising section. Another way to find the topics media outlets are looking to cover is to use public relations software. Editorial calendar opportunities are recruited directly from the outlet and listed with descriptions. You’ll also be able to access the name and email for the media contact most relevant to your pitch.
As a PR and marketing company, it’s important to plan your editorial calendar in order to organize consistent quality content. The document will help you publish timely and engaging content. Create editorial calendars for both your company and clients to stay on track. Do research and find out what topics are trending in the industry you are blogging about. You should also meet with your clients regulalry to tie their services and events into the editorial calendar.
A simple way to organize your content is to create editorial calendars as spreadsheets in Excel or on your Google Drive. Prepare.io is also a new cloud-based editorial calendar tool, which is accessible to both agency and client teams making planning and perfecting content much more effective.
5 Tips for Pitching Your Biggest Critics – The Media
1. INCLUDE SOLID DATA. According to Vocus, it’s wise to include data, tabulated data and primary sources to make your pitch stand out. For example, when inBLOOM sent out a press release on a cookbook launch, we included market research statistics. An informative story that contains statistical data will sound more convincing than one that contains opinions only.
2. GET STRAIGHT TO THE POINT. Keep your pitch short and simple. According to Forbes writer and journalist Cheryl Connor, the whole idea of buttering a reporter up to the topic you called for is a bad one. First and foremost, let them know what you’re contacting them about and what your reasons are for thinking it’s a good idea. Also, avoid being too pushy with your pitch. Don’t forget, the people you’re contacting have their own priorities, deadlines and editorial calendars to answer to.
3. AVOID SPAMMY-SOUNDING SUBJECT LINES. The subject line is the easiest way to get your email filtered as spam. Even if your email doesn’t get filtered as spam, your subject line is how people will decide whether or not to open or delete your message. Make sure it’s intriguing, but also relevant to the story. Avoid using all caps and spammy words and phrase. Overall, be clear about the topic.
4. RESEARCH THE PERSON YOU’RE CONTACTING. Do some digging to find out what topics and stories the person covers. You may be able to tweak your pitch in a way that would sound like something they would be interested in. Make sure you contact the correct contact at the media outlet who covers your specific industry or content. This is crucial for establishing relationships. If you continue to send stories about pets to a person who covers the restaurant industry, don’t expect a response and you will be marked as spam.
5. PERSONALIZE YOUR APPROACH. Address the media as you would a colleague or friend. Personalize your approach to each individual by including their name and the name of the media outlet. Avoid sending emails via a platform like Constant Contact in order to sound more personal. Be sure to keep in touch at least once a month, otherwise the contact may forget about you. Try to build relationships with individuals who will cover your stories on a regular basis.