If you’re advertising in trade publications, you probably have a pretty good shot at getting news releases, product introductions, and technical articles in print – provided they follow the publications’ journalistic policies. Many companies don’t think to ask their advertising sales person to help them in this area, but consider this: your ad rep has a vested interest in keeping you happy (no ads from XYZ Company, no commissions as a result of XYZ Company.) Provided your editorial is well written and relevant to the publications’ readers, they will usually go to bat for you with their editorial staff.
On the other hand, if you are not doing much advertising, it can be a little more difficult to get your editorial pieces in print. If you’re not advertising, you have to approach the publications’ editors yourself. Sometimes, it can be downright impossible (and terribly frustrating.) Here are some tips that will help you impress editors at trade publications. They all boil down to one goal: try to make the editor your friend rather than your adversary. Here’s how to do it.
1. Know the publication
When you send a new product announcement to an editor at a magazine that does not HAVE a feature for new product announcements, the editor has an instant negative reaction. You obviously don’t know anything about their publication. Trying to pitch a feature article that has no relevance to the publication’s readers likewise turns off editors.
Most industrial companies have a handful of trade publications that focus on the industries they serve. Find out which are the top ones in the markets you sell to, and READ THEM; and not just one issue, but four to six. An advertising sales person will be happy to send you a package of past issues if you tell them you’re considering advertising in the publication. (You would if you could, right?)
Note the recurring departments or features in each issue and list the ways you can fit your editorial into some of those features. Read several of the articles written by authors outside of the publication. Some magazines have strict policies about not accepting articles that even mention the author’s company. You need to understand how flexible the publication is in terms of self-promotion. Don’t submit anything that seems to go outside of the norm for that publication. Match your story pitch to that publication’s style.
2. Keep your expectations realistic
Don’t oversell your story. The contract you just won may be the biggest news in your Company in the past five years; but unless the contract has implications that will reverberate throughout your industry, don’t expect an editor to write a feature article about it. Be realistic about a story’s true news value.
Even if a publication has a feature for “new hires,” remember there are only so many slots to fill in each issue. Of course they’re going to be more interested in high level appointments and more strategic roles within the company. Don’t be disappointed when they don’t pick up your release about the new administrative assistant.
3. Become more deadline oriented
Most business people have deadlines in their work, but few are familiar with the pressure of deadlines at magazines and newspapers. Unlike the Internet, where news pieces can be added and deleted in a heartbeat, printed publications have to meet strict deadlines for printing. No printing: no ad revenue. Editors are very deadline oriented people.
The easiest way to plan for magazine deadlines is to think backwards. Let’s say you’re exhibiting at a trade show in November, and you want a write up about your company and products in a publication that puts out a pre-show edition. The pre-show edition usually comes out the month prior to the show: October. Deadlines for October editorial will vary from publication to publication. It could be as early as July, but most likely between August and early September. Editors need a lot of time to edit all of the submissions they receive for each issue. It’s not difficult to find out a publication’s deadlines – just check their editorial calendar; and then submit your material well ahead of the deadline.
If you are deadline oriented and the editor can see it, your efforts will be remembered the next time you approach them with unsolicited editorial.
4. Capitalize on issues where your editorial is a perfect fit
Get the editorial calendars for all the key publications you’re targeting. Circle those months that have an editorial focus related to your business. For instance, if you manufacture a pump, and there’s a feature one month on “Valves, Pumps, and Compressors,” that would be a circled target for discussion with the editor. If you provide turnaround safety and there’s an issue focusing on “Maintenance and Turnarounds,” that’s a target. Likewise, if the publication has a pre-show or wrap-up issue for a trade show you’re exhibiting at, circle those. Each one of these is an opportunity to provide the editor in charge with relevant editorial. Just be sure to plan ahead since you’ll need to pitch the editor months before the issue goes to print.
When you approach editors with the knowledge of their editorial schedule, and suggest how you can supply needed peripheral editorial well in advance of when other companies are contacting them; you’ll stand out as someone they can count on.
5. Keep editors “in the know”
When you know of an important business development in your company, such as a new product launch, a strategic alliance, joint venture, or acquisition, be sure to call all the editors you have been cultivating relationships with. Don’t call them if the “news” is really only news to people who have a vested interest in XYZ Company. Save these calls for true news that would be of interest to a broad audience in your industry.
If you’d rather write a press release and send it before the phone call, that’s fine, but if it’s really an important story, you should also contact the editor directly. They may want to interview someone in your Company to fill out the story.
The point is to communicate to editors that you want to HELP them make their publications as interesting to their readers as possible. You want to be a resource, and keep them informed.
Whether you advertise a little, or not at all, if you spend time on the actions outlined here, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve in the area of Industrial P/R.