Trade press editors are often called gatekeepers. Anything that appears in their magazines has to go through them. Their job is to ensure the editorial content in the publication matches its mission and is useful to the readers. Here’s how you can be the keymaster when you approach these gatekeepers with ideas for their subscribers.
It’s All About Them
It’s not about you. No editor will welcome 1,200 words of company chest beating onto the pages of their publication. As with all successful social media content, a trade press article has to convey the impression that you are sharing information with the readers and not trying to sell them on your product. Don’t give editors the same impression.
You need to demonstrate to the editors that you understand the issues that are on the minds of their audience. That’s why the folks on the plant floor, in the engineering department and on the job site are taking the time to open the pages and go on the publication’s website—to learn what new and exciting concept is out in the market that can make their job easier and their role on the job more effective.
Who Are You Talking To?
When it comes to the editor, if you’ve done pitching enough, you likely will have dealt with that person before. Since you have built a reputation as a reliable source, your calls get picked up.
But often you don’t, and you might be encountering him or her for the first time. So the next best thing you need to know is whom the editor is talking to—the audience reading the magazine. Armed with that knowledge, you can approach the editor as someone who can talk about the needs of the readers.
And this is the trick when pitching an article. You and the editor know that embedded in the article is your product which, in most cases, you might mention once. But the way the article is written should make the technology the focus, presented as a solution or as a way to get things done better.
Know the Book
It may seem obvious that you should know what the magazine is about, but you would be surprised how many pitches trade press editors receive from people who know nothing about the publication. That has been the case with Benita Mehta, Managing Editor with Industrial Safety and Hygiene News. As she points out, “I often get pitches from companies that have nothing to do with our audience or the topics we cover.”
That approach sends the pitch right into the dirt. So when you do your homework, according to Gary Parr, Editorial Director with Commercial Architecture, “I get interested when it is clear that the presenter has at least looked through a couple of issues and has taken the time to understand our editorial focus and what we are trying to offer our readers.”
One of the best places to find out what a publication is looking for is the book’s editorial calendar for the year, always found on its website. If you come across a topic that matches the technology your company deals with, be sure the issue date is at least three to four months into the future. This margin gives you time to determine your approach, pitch the editor and write the guest editorial.
Don’t feel confined, though, by the editorial calendar. Benita Mehta urges you to, “Take a few minutes with the magazine’s website and suggest specific topics that fit with the magazine brand.”
“I am always open to pitches that work for us even if they are companies that I’ve never worked with before, especially if the person takes the time to personalize the article pitch to our needs.”
The same impact can be achieved by subscribing to the publication’s email newsletters. Along with giving you insight into industry trends, you might spot a news item related to your technology that could prompt a timely pitch to the editor.
You can really hit the strike zone by going online and searching past issues of the publication and reading discussions about the topic you have in mind. The editor will greatly appreciate your diligence when you mention in your pitch email, “Adding to the discussion on robotic welding from your June issue last year…”
Tell a Story
One way to pique interest is to lead off with the experience of a user that touches on your target topic. Discussing that “Out in the Alberta oil fields, project leader Jerry Simmons had the constant worry of not knowing as much as he could about the drill head burrowing thousands of feet below the surface of that frozen ground,” is a compelling lead into the meat of the pitch.
Have a short video that explains the technology related to your pitch? Link that into your email. If you have photos to support your point, provide those as links as well to avoid the need to download files.
Make It Snappy
But be sure to get to the point since editors receive a lot of these appeals daily. Keep your pitch confined to a single screen page and make it crisp, creative and insightful while conveying the impression that your company has expertise in the field. And finally, Gary Parr advises, “One of the things that makes me pass are pitches that don’t get to the point.”
Successful trade press programs are built on relationships with editors. The time you take to know the editor and the publication before sending off that pitch email will pave the way to reaching your audience of prospects.
Posted by Keith Schmitz
Keith Schmitz has a long-time career involved with getting his clients written up in scores of trade publications. Along with developing insightful content, Keith has walked acres of plant floors and job sites in pursuit of interesting client stories. For ideas on how to position your company in the trade press, he can be reached by clicking @krpr_inc.