For 15 years I was a full-time freelance writer and contributed to the top national magazines in the country (and many amazing regional ones as well). I sought out makers and risk takers who had pursued their dream and told their stories for a living. The majority of those I featured were independent business owners, artisans and emerging designers.
Over time I noted a recurring conversation, one that lead me to write my first book, Recipe for Press, Pitch Your Story Like the Pros & Create a Buzz. Creatives would sooner pay a complete stranger to represent their product to an editor or blogger than to approach media on their own.
All too often that exchange ended in disappointment. Not only were they out a lot of money that could have been spent on inventory, they felt they could have better handled most of the outreach.
The truth is, editors and writers are constantly on the hunt for new people and products to cover and we don’t care who the messenger is as long as they go about it like a pro (hence the book!) New content is what fuels magazines each month. You don’t have to have a publicist to begin a dialogue with an editor but you do need to know how to approach and work with bloggers and writers to get the best possibly consideration. DIY publicity works, but only if you play by these oft-unspoken rules. When you do, it makes all the difference in scoring easy press.
Those who get press over and over again are easy to work with and respond quickly. Plenty of products with passionate people behind them fail to reach their press potential because they are slow to respond to editorial requests. When editors or bloggers reach out, drop what you’re doing and return the call or answer the email. Editors operate on very tight deadlines. If we can’t find you, we move on to the company we know will come through for us every time.
Editors only have time for the sliver of your story that matters most to their magazine. They are not interested in your entire story or inspiration behind the company because they simply don’t have the time. Read a couple of issues of the publication before you pitch to determine what angle might best work and if they even run products or services or profiles like the one you want to pitch. Every page is a formula that works for that magazine. What is on the page in this month’s issue is your key or guide to what they will be running six months from now.
A “no, thank you” for now does not mean “no” forever. Don’t get discouraged if an editor can’t find a place for your product or idea the first go around. When you come back to that same editor with a good idea a second and third time, it’s signaling that you mean business and are doing the work it takes to get their attention. If it is a good match for the magazine, eventually an editor will reward your persistence and find a place for your idea.
Gone are the days when you needed expensive press kits and marketing material to approach an editor. All we need is a personalized email (one to two paragraphs is usually sufficient) and an amazing picture to know if your product might work for us. If an editor is interested, they go directly to your website (so make sure it is ready for that kind of attention before you pitch.)
Writers and editors appreciate a good lead. Our job is to make tried-and-true ideas new, issue after issue. Help us out by giving your pitch a clever tagline that let’s us know you “get it,” that you read the magazine and are trying to give us something new and exciting. We might just use that idea and place your product front and center of that roundup.
Amy Flurry is a writer, editor and stylist for 15 years with work featured in InStyle, Conde Nast Traveler, Paste, House Beautiful, Sassy, County Living andDaily Candy. For six years Flurry served as a contributing editor to Lucky magazine. In her new book, “Recipe for Press, pitch your story like the pros and create a buzz!” she reveals what editors and media influences really want (it’s easier than you think!)and shares savvy strategies that leverage your press efforts and get big results. Flurry also travels the country lecturing and her popular DIY publicity workshops serve to strengthen relationships between editors and the entrepreneur.
Buy the book, $23.95: www.recipeforpress.com
Read the blog: http://recipeforpress.blogspot.com/