Article Summary:How to use Editorial Calendars for the coming year to maximize your public relations opportunities.
Every year, in the summer through fall timeframe, publications begin releasing their Editorial Calendars for the coming year. This is the time to research your target publications and find out what topics have been scheduled to run starting in January. The stories that appear to be a natural fit for your company, product or service are those on which you will want to focus your placement efforts. Since monthly publications can have a six- month or greater lead-time, it is not too early to start pitching involvement in stories now.
Here's the process:
- Make a list of the publications that reach your best audiences/potential customers.
- If you have a media research service or product -- such as MediaMap (www.mediamap.com), LexisNexis (www.lexisnexis.com), or the like -- the next step is easy. Enter your search terms and a list of opportunities will be shown on your computer screen.
- If you do not have such a service, you need to do a little legwork yourself.
- Enter the URL for the publication you are targeting. If the URL is not intuitive (for instance, The Wall Street Journal's URL is www.wsj.com), use your computer's search engine to find the publication. Once you're on its home page, search for the section "About Us", "Media Kit" or, if you're lucky, "Editorial Calendar."
- Once you've located the Editorial Calendar, scan it for entries that are a match for your market focus, product or service. Note the issue in which the story is scheduled to run, and the deadline date for submitting information and/or materials for that story.
- If the editorial contact is not given on the Editorial Calendar, call the publication and ask to speak with someone in Editorial who can assist you in identifying the correct writer or editor to contact. If you can't reach Editorial, try asking the person who answers the phone. They sometimes know more than you expect and can be very helpful.
- Repeat this process for each of your target publications, until you have a list of all scheduled stories for the coming year that look like they have potential for your company's involvement.
- You may find it easier to keep track of your Editorial Opportunities list if you enter all the information into a spreadsheet, such as Excel so you can easily add, subtract, and sort opportunities as you act upon them.
Make sure you are familiar with the publication and writer you will be contacting for each editorial opportunity on your list. If you can read an issue or two, that is ideal. If not, at least get to know it better from the information on their website. Try to find past articles the writer has done, to get a sense of his or her main areas of interest, so you can angle your pitch to those areas.
Write down the key reasons why the information you have to offer the writer will be of value to the story. Answer the question: How can I make it easier for the writer to write an interesting and informative story that will engage and benefit the audience for whom it is being written? Write a short pitch that can be used in an e-mail and on which you can base a phone conversation.
Line up real-life examples that support the key points you have put together in your pitch, such as customers who will say how they have solved a problem and achieved success using your product or service. If possible, also provide a third-party expert who can objectively speak to the topic of the story.
Respect the writer's time when you contact him or her. Keep the call short and get to the point immediately. If the writer decides to include your company, product or service in the story, make it a top priority to get him or her the materials and schedule requested interviews as quickly as you can.
Repeat for each opportunity on your list. Yes, it's time-consuming, but it will pay off with quality visibility in some of your most-desired publications.
Remember, there is symbiotic relationship between PR practitioners and journalists that benefits everyone in some way: Through writers and editors, PR people get their clients or customers valuable editorial coverage in target publications. Through PR people, writers and editors get useful information, contacts and content for their stories.
And, you get the credibility that only a media placement can impart.
Christine Shock is President of Shock PR, Inc., a PR firm that creates, develops and implements effective, measurable programs that support clients' visibility and business goals. She is a 20-year PR veteran, with director-level corporate experience, as well as leading Fortune 500 accounts on the agency side. Start Up PR, a division of Shock PR, assists early-stage companies and entrepreneurs to initiate and conduct public relations programs. It offerings include PR in a Box, a low-cost yet comprehensive guide to PR for those wishing to start up a PR program on their own. To learn more, or to sign up for free monthly PR tips, visit www.shockpr.com.