11 Tips for Working with Editors
What better source for guidance on how to best connect with an editor than…an editor? We’re very happy to have Robert Cassidy (email@example.com), Executive Editor of Building Design+Construction and Editor of Multifamily Design+Construction, share his insights on the process. A city planner by training, Rob has won numerous journalism prizes, including eight Jesse H. Neal Awards and the G.D. Crain, Jr. Award for a lifetime of editorial product quality and exemplary journalistic standards.
1. Scan the magazine or website before making your pitch. I can’t tell you how many emails we get that clearly show the marketers had no idea what we cover. Example: Story pitches about single-family homes, which we don’t cover in BD+C. Take a few minutes to review one or two issues and the website before pitching an editor.
2. Review the editorial calendar and media kit. Editors give much greater weight to a story idea that helps fill a hole in the editorial calendar. Be sure to pitch your story idea at least three to four months ahead of the issue date.
3. Use the “one-page, multi-bullet” email pitch. Make the case for your story with a tight, targeted email. Take a shot at a catchy (but not exaggerated) headline, supply a one or two sentence summary, back it up with several detailed bullet points, and tell why your client is the person who’s best qualified to talk on this topic. Include images, charts, tables, PDFs, white papers, etc., to illustrate your case.
4. Target an “exclusive” to a specific publication or online medium. Editors like to feel they’re getting something special. If you’ve got a hot item, give that one special publication or website an exclusive—but say you need a decision right away. At BD+C and Multifamily Design+Construction, we’ll let you know if we want the exclusive within 24-48 hours; if not, you’re free to pitch it elsewhere.
5. Meet with editors. There’s no better way to sell your client’s expertise and value than to have a private meeting with editors—in the editor’s office, at a trade show, etc. Even a 20-minute phone call can be helpful. Be respectful of editors’ time, but know that we truly do want to know how your clients can help us.
6. Include your cell phone (and email address) in your email pitch. Sometimes editors need to reach you on deadline after hours. Having your mobile number could save a story for your client. Also: Please put your email address in your “signature” so we can scrape your information into our Contacts files, thereby strengthening our relationship.
7. For personnel announcements, supply the email of the individual being hired or promoted. I like to send emails congratulating professionals in our field, with my contact information. Opens doors for future communications. Include photo.
8. For potential cover photos, submit vertical images. Magazines need good vertical photos for their covers. Make sure your photographer turns the camera 90 degrees every so often so you have a selection of verticals that could make the cover of the publication you’re pitching. Important: Always include exact photo credit information for every image.
9. Put people in your pix. Check back issues and websites to see if your target publication uses images with people in them. (We do.) Shoot for a “candid” look: a group of nurses walking down a corridor for a hospital story, children on play equipment for a school story, etc. Avoid overly “posed” images—not too smiley, please. Having people in at least some photos lends physical perspective and humanity to the image.
10. List all firms that contributed to a construction project. This is a pet peeve of mine. It’s OK to put the emphasis on your client’s role in the story, but have the courtesy to list the other major players who contributed their expertise and hard work. If we editors have to search for this information, it could kill your chances of getting the item used.
11. Attach your press release (as PDF or .doc) in your email. This saves the editor time when storing your press release in a folder and increases the chances that it will be used.