The pitching process often intimidates entrepreneurs, especially when they haven't had much practice. In order to alleviate some of that pressure here are a few tips that you be sure are studied, noted, and followed BEFORE you even begin pitching, tips that will help be sure you are reaching out to the correct editor/writer/editorial assistant.
- Never pitch a magazine without first reading their latest issue. This will not only teach you the "lay of the land" but also who writes what sections. Relying on the masthead (list of editors and writers at the front of the magazine and their positions) along is not enough, as not all of the writers are included here, and more and more magazines rely on freelancers or contributing editors.
- Don't limit yourself to the fashion writers if you are a fashion product or health section if you are a health product and so forth, but think outside of the box....Could you perhaps be in the "front of the book" or "back of the book" sections (the pages without heavy articles that include hot products, quick informative tips, etc)? Could your product or expertise be used in answering reader questions or could you write in to the magazine in the Letters to the Editor section? Be sure you pore over and really know the magazine, which will automatically increase your confidence. Study it like you studied a foreign language in high school until you understand it ladies!
- Once you've done your homework, it's time to get down to business. If you aren't confident who you should pitch, or to figure out who's covering a specific gift guide (Mother's Day, Holiday, etc) a simple email or quick call to the magazine will work, and your job will be to reach out to an editorial assistant ( Gatekeeper as we'll often refer to them on this site) and quickly and politely describe (do not pitch briefly describe) who you are and what you're looking for. You can see examples of tthese types of emails in the "What Worked" section of the How To's and Advice on this site beginning the evening of Monday the 26th. If you want to do this via phone it should be a polite but direct question. For example: "Hi Emily the Editorial Assistant, this is Elizabeth the Entrepreneur, and I just have a quick pitch question to be sure I'm reaching and pitching the correct person do you have thirty seconds? Thanks. Basically, I make giant gummy bears, and I was wondering if I should send that information to you or is their a better person at the magazine to reach out to?" Thanks Emily! Have a great day!". DONE.
- Be sure you always record the contacts in your media pitch list so that you can keep track and update information as needed. This will also prevent you from losing track of who or what you pitched which will only make you look bad!
- When you reach out to the correct editor, mention who referred you to them if you went the Gatekeeper route ( another great reason to reach out to the editorial assistants first). This automatically gives you a little bit more magazine "street cred".
- When you do reach out to an editor via email or phone pitch, it's great to mention something they've done in the past if it resonated with you (again see "What Worked" for examples of this). That said, don't do this if you are being dishonest. Your PR is all about building relationships, and we all know that personal and professional relationships are all best when built on trust! Talking to them about past work also shows you know what they cover and thus know that you are a good fit.
- Read media websites to track who's working where, what they are up to, and other fun bits of information these blogs and sites share. Some of my favorites? Jezebel, Gawker, Media Bistro, and of course tinshingle.com!
- Final piece of advice? If you have a magazine you are fantasizing about daily and visualizing yourself in regularly, subscribe to it and learn it like the back of your hand. The more you understand how it works and get into studying it, the more you'll figure out how to pitch yourself, where to pitch, and who writes stories you fit into. Then when you go into that pitch you'll be educated and confident, you will know that you are going to be helpful to them, and as GI Joe says, "knowing is half the battle".
ps - of course, if you have done even a little bit of research you know that editors can switch publications quickly so be sure you research & update your list regulalry!