First things first – yes, the print industry is fading – and while many people will tell you this means you don’t need to focus on pitching to magazines and trade outlets, they would be very wrong. Trade publications and industry magazines are still going strong. Additionally, with the growth of digital editions and 24-hour news cycles, contributed articles are often welcomed by editors to supplement editorial placements and provide companies a chance to position their subject matter experts as thought leaders in specific fields or industries.
Contributed articles are often written by experts within a company versus the publication’s writers and can cover many different topics including current industry news, growth potential and new or future strategies.
While each industry and trade publication has different requirements, there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to make your news interesting to editors:
1. Research – First and foremost, do your research. Understand what your company has to offer from a writing standpoint and make a list of publications you want to reach out to for particular topics. If your company has specific vertical markets you want to focus on, create separate lists for each market. Additionally, when doing research and creating these lists, make sure you have the right contact for each publication and limit your contacts to no more than two individuals per publication to avoid confusion and prevent oversaturating the publication. Creating an editorial calendar for pitching that includes contact names, publication information and upcoming topics is a great way to keep track of pitching deadlines and opportunities.
2. Know the publication’s audience – Whether the publication is new to your editorial calendar or one you reach out to often, understanding the publication’s audience is vital to creating content. You wouldn’t want to submit an article with a focus on topics or areas of interest in Europe or the Asia-Pacific region to a publication whose audience is primarily based in the United States.
3. Provide original content – When it comes to contributed articles, always submit original content. This doesn’t just mean to avoid plagiarizing from other sources (DUH), but not to submit the same content to multiple publications, even if your company created the content originally. Publications want unique and interesting information.
4. Secure the placement before writing – Always get verbal or written approval on a topic or abstract from the publication before spending time researching and writing an article. There is nothing worse than spending a good amount of time perfecting a piece only for your contact to tell you the publication doesn’t have room or that your piece doesn’t fit within a chosen theme.
5. Avoid overly promotional phrasing – This is not an ad. I REPEAT. THIS IS NOT AN AD… When writing an article, try not to sound overly promotional. Depending on the guidelines of the piece, you can still include your company’s name and a product, as long as it doesn’t sound like you are trying too hard. It’s best to speak to the industry as a whole.
6. Write about what you know – If you are writing an article, more often than not, it’s because you are the subject matter expert. Don’t try to overcompensate. Instead, write about what you know. You can include your opinion on trends and industry growth but avoid speaking about areas where your knowledge is limited.
7. Know your deadline and stick to it – Reporters and editors often have strict material deadlines for a reason. A lot goes into producing a print publication, including laying out what the article or piece will look like visually and sending the full publication to print with enough time for distribution. Ask for deadlines at the beginning of a project and stick to them once you have committed, but don’t risk quality for speediness. If a deadline isn’t feasible, make it known. Some editors can provide extensions, while others may suggest pushing the article to a future issue.
8. Respond quickly – The job isn’t quite done when you hit send on the email to your contact with the attached article copy. Many contacts will follow up with questions, image requests or to have you proof the article before it goes to print. Because their deadlines are often tight, responding quickly will help you solidify your relationship.
9. Develop a repertoire with your contacts – Developing a relationship with your contacts can help with future article requests and even interviews. If they know you are reliable and supply high-quality content, they are more likely to request or approve additional articles.
10. It’s okay to hear “no” – Finally, while not ideal, don’t be discouraged when your request is denied, especially if it is from a trusted contact. Whether it just wasn’t the right fit for the publication at the time or there simply isn’t room in the issue, a rejection isn’t the end-all be-all. Not all topics and requests will pan out, but that makes the ones that do worth it.
As Jack Canfield once said, “don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”
If you need help securing and writing contributed articles, pitching opportunities or simply want to learn more about what we can do for you, give us a call!