How do I get a story on my company published? Here are some basic truths….
February 3, 2020 | Blog | 0 comments
As both a communications consultant and an editor of a healthcare industry magazine I often get asked, “How can I get a story on my company published?”
Many years ago, when I first began my career, I remember being told about the “editorial gatekeepers” of publications, those individuals who decide what gets published – and what doesn’t. I always pictured these angry faces inside of a gate with pitchforks or some sort of weapons – or the bridge keeper in Monty Python and the Holy Grail – asking three questions and with a wrong answer catapulting the person into the chasm below.
I’ve been told many times over the past two decades of my career that I am “too honest” because I tell it like it is. But that is exactly why I am still in business. I refuse to make unrealistic promises or guarantees related to factors that are out of my control just to secure a project and make money. I lose out of business, but in the end it is my reputation that I value most.
Here are a few basic truths about the editorial process:
- I can’t guarantee your story will be published. As a freelance writer, I can work with you on writing an article about your company, its products, your thought leadership ideas, a recent study, etc. but I cannot guarantee that a specific media outlet will publish it. Being in the business for 20+ years I will say there are plenty of unscrupulous consultants who will tell you otherwise, claiming they have contacts, but unless they are on the editorial team on that publication, it is really out of their hands.
- Publications plan for what they publish. I’ve been an editor for an industry magazine for seven years – the editorial and advertising teams plan well in advance the content they will publish – certainly not all of it because there will always be breaking news and emerging trends – but the core foundation is set out in the publication’s editorial calendar. In this goldmine of information you can find, month by month, the topics a publication will be covering.
- Advertising does matter. I feel dirty writing this but let’s be realistic – publications need to make money to stay in business. Their main source of income is not the print copies they sell (if they even have a print version), but advertising revenue. If you are a looking to place an article, first take a look at those publications with which your company is advertising (or has advertised). It is not that the publication will compromise its journalist integrity for money, but rather if they have an existing business relationship with you, then they already know you, and will likely more receptive to your outreach.
So here are a few tips for securing media coverage:
- Do your research: Take a look at what the publication has published for articles in the past, understand which editors/reporters cover which topics, and secure the editorial calendar to find out what they have planned for topics in the months ahead to determine if your story idea makes sense.
- Keep it relevant: The above research will help to avoid the mistake of irrelevant pitches. As an editor, every day I open my email inbox and there are countless pitches from companies or their public relations agencies on topics that have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with my beat. Make sure what you are pitching is relevant to the publication and editor/reporter. There is nothing more frustrating than being barraged by pitches on “5 Signs You Are Pushing Love Away This Valentine’s Day” or “National BOOCH Day” (I received both of these pitches today) when I cover topics related to surgical instrument processing.
- Give it a go: I don’t want this post to discourage companies from reaching out to industry publications. As an editor I rely on companies to provide information on the latest products and trends of interest to our readers. Rather, I hope this post provides some realistic information and guidelines to help companies pitch the media in an effective, efficient way.
Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash