Ever picked up a glossy magazine and wondered how to get your product in there? Admittedly it’s not easy, but there are definitely things you can do to increase your chances of success.
The best place to start is by doing your research. For example, if you sell baby products, head to your local newsagent and pick up all the parenting magazines you can find. Once you have them, it’s a case of read, read, read - check out any PR practitioner’s office and they’ll quite often be surrounded by publications decked in a rainbow of coloured sticky notes in a bid to know their target media.
The next job is to grab a coffee and take a really close look at each publication – whatever those around you think, this is work and not play! What is featured and are there any regular slots you could potentially contribute to? Make a note of anything you see that you think is relevant. Often you can find:
- Gift pages your product would perhaps be suitable for
- Design shoots that your product could potentially be incorporated into (art directors are regularly on the look out for fresh ideas and the ‘latest thing’)
- Interview-based features
- Top tips sections
- A letters page
The list goes on!
Now look at the magazine to see who makes up the editorial team. Sometimes the journalists will have their bylines on the features you wish to target, which makes life easy but it’s not always the case. However somewhere in the publication, usually towards the front, will be a list of the editorial and advertising contacts. Unless you’re sure of yourself, it’s best to start with one of the editorial assistants who may have more time to help. Editors are extremely busy people and generally hard to get hold of too.
Before you pick up the phone, decide what you have to share that would fit the different features. Never call a journalist without having the information ready they might need. If you do, you risk securing an opportunity then not being able to deliver, which could damage the relationship (and your confidence) from the start.
Pre-empt what the journalist may ask for – this is likely to be who you are, where you’re calling from and product details as a start. Make sure you have your elevator pitch down perfectly as you’ll have little time to win them over. If you can, get a name and email address so you can send the details over in writing. This is often preferable if the product or service is complex and you need more time to explain.
Photography is key to success. Although posting out a product sample sounds like a good idea, it’s costly for you and consumer magazines are often inundated. It’s also amazing how many items get lost. Some high resolution professional product shots on a white background are the perfect way to start and if they need the product itself, the journalist will let you know.
If you get the chance, always ask the journalist whether they have a forward features schedule, which set out any planned features across the year (note that some publications sometimes list these on the website so it’s worth checking first). Identifying their deadlines is also mission critical because there’s no point putting hard work in to find the magazine has already gone to print. Amazing how easily this can happen!
This brings me onto another useful point. Don’t forget that many monthlies are often ‘longer lead,’ which means they work three-four months in advance. Now is the perfect time to be pitching for Christmas! Not the same for weeklies obviously but something to bear in mind.
Finally, don’t forget to keep a track of who you have pitched to and when – this is where many people fail and it can very quickly get confusing if you’ve spoken to several people at one publication over a number of weeks. Keep a simple excel sheet so you can log who, what, where and when. It’s an invaluable tool when you’re put on the spot, especially if you’re following up a request to call back and the initial conversation sounded positive.
Ultimately nothing beats the buzz you get when you see your product in print and with the right publication, coverage can very quickly drum up enquiries and sales. Be prepared, be patient and be persistent and in time, all the effort will be worthwhile. Good luck!