In baseball, the action starts when the pitch is made. The same is true in magazine publishing, and like the Grand Ol’ Game, the result is frequently the result of the quality of the pitch.
Just like a pitcher’s offerings, a PR professional’s pitch to an editor needs to be targeted, varied and effective. And while not every good pitch is chased by the batter, the same is true for article ideas. It doesn’t mean the pitch was out of the strike zone. Sometimes there are reasons beyond a writer’s control why a home run of an article idea is not selected for consideration by an editor.
As a former editor, I received pitches frequently. I passed on many of them, because they were not a direct hit for our reading audience, because the publication for which I worked lacked space for the content, or I felt the idea simply would not resonate with readers. Now that I’m the one making the pitches, I’ve discovered some strategies that can help gain an editor’s attention.
Editors are wary of publishing promotional pieces that push a business’ agenda. Find the language that develops a news peg to the article and demonstrate to the editor why you think it’s appropriate for that audience. If you have expertise in the field, express that to the editor as well. Editors like to know that the person with whom they are working can write objectively, know the subject matter and can deliver a message to their reading audience.
Know the readers
It’s not merely enough to express to an editor that you’d like to write an article on a topic. You have to convey why the topic is important for that audience, what problem it might solve, how it was solved and what unusual steps occurred. The story angle for a business magazine will be dramatically different for a manufacturing magazine, even if you are writing about the same product. Keep the lead to the article relevant on the magazine’s readers, and then dive into the details. That’s a critical first step.
Deliver the goods
Nothing frosts an editor more than the missed deadlines, articles that deviate from the original plan and manuscripts that are well over/under the assigned length. If you tell an editor that you will deliver a 1,200-word article on the benefits of Product A by March 1, you’d better have that article ready by the deadline. As an editor, I always preferred longer pieces to be delivered well before the deadline for editing, proofing, re-writing and massaging. If you can’t deliver the manuscript by the deadline, don’t take it on and wait for the next opportunity. Missing a deadline could cost writers additional opportunities. Editors do not forget writers who miss deadlines – and make their work more stressful.
Just like baseball, not every manuscript a writer submits is going to be a home run for the editor. That’s OK, because it doesn’t have to be, especially in the world of B2B publicity. You just want the editor to swing at the pitch. That will start the action, which is all you really want when working on behalf of your clients.
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