Editors are the gatekeepers of editorial content. If you want something published then you need to make the case to them first. Successful pitches aren’t a given but the goals of companies and editors should be the same: publishing informative and interesting content that engages readers. If you can prove to an editor that you have this then you have a chance of pleasing everyone.
The way that you pitch to an editor makes all the difference about whether your content ends up published or not and there is no substitute for knowing an editor and their publication beforehand. It is a PR agency’s job to keep the channels of communication open between companies and the media. Putting effort into media relations gives us an idea of what floats an editor’s boat content-wise, what will suit their publication and allows us to keep track of opportunities or staff changes.
However, when faced with a ‘cold pitch’, there are other things we can do to make an editor’s life easier:
- Stick to deadlines. Editors are always working on deadlines and it’s important to be aware of this to avoid pitching at the wrong time. Streamlining approval processes is important– there’s no point an article being perfect if it’s never published. Equally, if it looks like the article won’t be ready on time it’s vital to warn the editor as early as possible. It’s never ideal but they’d rather know sooner than later so they can arrange a ‘Plan B’.
- Do your homework. Reading the magazine regularly is the best way to discover the tone and format that the editor prefers and shows them that you really know your stuff. Editorial calendars can help to identify a relevant feature but it’s always good to explain why an article is a good fit for a feature. Is it a new product for an application that will be covered in a specific feature?
- Find the hook. It’s important to think like a journalist and be aware that they’re looking for a story. When you’ve identified the story make it clear and put it in the headline to grab their attention.
- Be persistent. Editors can be extremely busy people. It’s nothing personal, but sometimes pitches will fall through the gaps. There’s no harm in gently reminding an editor why the proposed story might be of interest, providing you keep it polite and friendly. Follow-ups also go a long way in cementing your relationship with an editor as the more they hear from you, the more familiar they become with who you are and what you can offer them.
- Proof-read several times. We’re all human but when dealing with professional wordsmiths, any grammatical mistakes are unforgivable. The same goes for inaccurate statements or statistics.