Most public relations or marketing professionals have been in the unfortunate position of trying to submit an article or press release to a publication after its deadline, only to have the editor laugh them out of their office. It’s because putting together a publication is hard work. (If it weren’t, anybody could do it, right?) Magazines, trade publications and newsletters take time, effort and planning. They’re typically put together several weeks to a few months in advance. Your last-minute request to insert an article is kind of like an astronaut needing a potty break as the clock counts down to zero: way too late.
However, smart marketers can use this situation to their advantage. Magazines put together what’s called an editorial calendar, generally on an annual basis. The calendar specifies the type of content that will go in each issue of the publication. For example, pieces on fighting the winter blahs in January, gardening tips in May and autumn crafts in October.
Why publish this information? First, it allows advertisers to see the content topics in advance so that they can plan their ad buys (boat companies may place ads in the June boating special issue, for example). Also, it allows the publication’s editors to assign stories to reporters in advance. This is where you come in: you can craft your press releases or article pitches to the editor to tie in with the content for specific months.
September’s theme is fall getaways? Pitch a piece on how your travel company has packaged affordable weekend trips for recession-weary consumers. April’s theme is personal finance? How about a piece on your wealth management company’s most overlooked deductions for taxpayers?
You get the point. By crafting a pitch that ties in to what the publication is doing, you not only give your story idea a better chance of making it to print, but you build a bond with an editor who may be looking for new, fresh ideas. You’re helping them be successful!
Editorial calendars are commonly found linked in the small print on publication websites. Barring that, feel free to contact the publication to ask for a copy. If the publication doesn’t have a formal editorial calendar, ask the editor what topics he/she is most interested in. In most cases, they’ll be happy to share the information with you. Or, just contact us at Trade Press Services. We specialize in making editorial contacts and crafting bylined stories for all types of companies and publications.