Long-Lead Media Pitching: How to Plan Ahead
August 24, 2016
Timing is everything in public relations. In order to land that national media placement, your timing must be right. At Proof Strategies, new clients will say to us, “We want to be featured in next month’s People Magazine, can you make that happen?” As much as we strive to meet the requests of our clients, pitching major publications cannot be done on a whim. Capturing big media placements requires months of planning as they take a long time to create, edit, and publish. These publications work on their articles months in advance in order to have plenty of time for any changes before going to print.
To see results from your pitch, you must be respectful of the publication’s editorial calendar, time, and deadlines. This is what we call “long-lead pitching.” Here are four important factors to keep in mind when trying to secure your client placement in a major, national publication.
1. Leverage editorial calendars
Given the issue area your client works on, you likely already have an idea of the outlets you want to pitch for a story or an interview. Thankfully, publications will put out editorial calendars, which are lists of major themes or features planned for an upcoming issue. Editorial calendars are your friend. They generally look something like this:
Editorial calendars are easy to find with a quick Google search. Searching the name of your target publication, followed by “media kit” will usually turn up the result you’re looking for. Once you have an editorial calendar, you can get a feel for what you want to pitch and the deadline you need to pitch it by.
Creating a calendar of editorial calendars is a great way to provide value to your client. Let’s say your client is a public transportation organization whose goal for the year is to garner as much placement in trade publications as possible. A good practice would be to compile the editorial calendars of various public transportation publications into an Excel spreadsheet. A spreadsheet detailing each publication, the month-by-month descriptions of their issues, and submission deadlines, is an easy way to track upcoming opportunities and provide a clear timeline of what to pitch and when.
2. Keep track of deadlines
One of the more important factors when securing placement for your client is timing. Keeping track of deadlines ensures that you won’t miss any good opportunities to get your client in the news.
Let’s take pitching around holidays for example. If you want placement in a publication about New Year’s resolutions, you should send your long-lead pitch out in September; this leaves a proper amount of time for the publication to conduct the interview, write the story, edit and ultimately publish the issue. A long-lead pitch for Valentine’s Day would go out in November, a pitch for Easter would go out in December, a pitch for Christmas would go out in August, and so forth. Reporters receive hundreds of pitches each day, so allotting a good span of time for them to go through the editorial process will increase your chances of getting placement.
3. Research the publication
Nothing infuriates a reporter more than an empty pitch, one that makes it obvious that you haven’t done your research on the outlet. You’ll have an edge on getting into a publication if you respond to their editorial calendar with specific ideas for an issue, or if you use background information for a story they want to write. Every publication is different; the difference in tone, style, content, and length are just a few of the aspects of the outlet that you should study before pitching a reporter.
4. Tailor pitches
Does your target publication regularly cite quantitative analyses of an issue? If so, provide the reporter with facts and data around your topic. Is the publication written in more of a narrative form? If so, tell a story, provide quality, and speak more to the “why?” of the story. A long-lead pitch won’t be worth your time and effort if you aren’t providing content that matches the outlet and reporter’s writing style.
Long-lead pitching, when done correctly, can ensure safe placement for your client, allowing them to tackle other important matters while finding solace in the knowledge that they will have a presence within their desired publication.
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Proof Strategies (formerly Environics Communications) is a full-service communications agency committed to insight-based problem-solving. We believe anyone can ask questions, but few ask the right ones. Better questions change how we approach your business challenges. As a brand steward to some of North America's most respected and well-known companies, our strategic approach is guided by data-driven research, deep subject expertise, smart creative and digital solutions to engage audiences in new ways with measurable results.