How to do it and get results
When pitching long-lead media it is important to understand that this can be a long process. It will take copious amounts of strategic planning and patience. Some things to remember when pitching long-lead media are: do your research, plan it out and be prepared to wait for your story.
Arguably, the most important part of pitching long-lead media is research. Before pitching to a publication read some of its past issues, get a feel for its style and the types of stories editors and contributors like to run. Also pay close attention to the contributors and which contributors are writing about stories similar to yours. When you pitch the editor later you could say something about how you think your story would be great for a certain contributor.
Another important thing to look for when researching a publication is its editorial calendar. This will give an overview of the content they plan to publish in each issue. Most editorial calendars include dates for ad closure but if you want to pitch editorial it’s a smart idea to call the magazine and ask which issue it’s working on in order to get a sense of its lead time. Some publications will need to be pitched six months before the issue comes out and others may take pitches as little as two months before. Knowing publication deadlines and having an idea of what each issue will be about makes it easier to tailor pitches and give journalists something they can actually use.
It’s also a good idea to research editors and contributors that you plan to pitch. Be sure to customize stories to fit with their beat and provide them with something they can work with. It’s good to know what is on the writer’s mind before you pitch to them and one way to learn this is to take a look at their Twitter feed. This can give you some insight into what they are currently interested in or working on. This may also help you build a relationship with them by showing your interest in the publication and their work.
Domini Clark, Travel Editor at the Globe and Mail says, “I find the general e-mail blasts not very useful. I simply don’t have time to read through newsletters that list several ideas. Much more useful is when a PR highlights one or two that they think would work best for my section, taking into account my readership, and emailing me about those personally.” Though Domini isn’t involved in long-lead media, as a travel editor she doesn’t work on the same deadlines as other editors at the Globe and Mail and works with longer lead times.
Having a previous relationship with the journalist goes a long wayHarry McCracken, Editor Times Magazine
In an interview with Hacking Media Production, Times Magazine Editor Harry McCracken talks about what a good pitch should be. Here’s his list of what makes a good pitch:
- The pitch needs to be relevant to the reporters beat
- Subject line should be clear and simple
- Having a previous relationship with the journalist goes a long way
- Pitch something new
- Mass emails are better without personalization. Mass emails with personalization come off as weird.
- Include only the facts and links to photos. Spam filters can often block attachments.
- Be creative about the news you’re trying to pitch.
When pitching journalists make sure you have all your information ready. After you pitch the media they are sure to have follow-up questions before they decide to cover your story. You’ll want to have these pieces of information ready if they need them:
- Fact sheets
- Profile/Interviewee information
- Full product/event/client description
Don’t forget to look into who the publications’ readers are. Just because you know what category of stories a magazine covers doesn’t mean you know what its readers want to hear. For example, perhaps you are pitching to a health and lifestyle magazine but when you do some research you discover that its main readership is 45 to 65 year-olds. In this case you may not want to pitch a story about tips on how to climb Mount Everest. Instead you might think about pitching a story on what yoga poses are best for back pain.
Getting a story into long-lead media can take time so be prepared to wait. If your client is looking to see results right away and wants a story to be out within a month then long-lead media is not the way to go. Journalists get a lot of pitches so they may not get back to you right away and when they do, even if they agree to cover your story or interview your client, it could still be awhile before this happens. If this happens don’t get frustrated, the best course of action is to give them some time and follow up with the journalist to ask for an update so that they can hopefully give you a timeline and possibly kick them into gear and put your story back to the front of their minds.