Every organization we work with is looking for alternatives to advertising and one of them involves what is called “article pitching.” It is one of the most powerful ways to promote your company and its products by securing an article placed in a major trade publication. However, this can be easier said than done. There is a process to it and although there may also be a little luck involved, the following advice can improve your “article placement batting average.”
Initial Steps in the Article Pitching Process
First, decide which publications to contact. In the professional cleaning industry, these would be trade publications (or “books,” as they are called) focused on cleaning, but it could also include books for facility management, hospitality, education, health care, and many other industries. If your product serves all these industries, then you have many doors of opportunity.
Next, check the publication’s editorial calendar. These are typically found under the “Advertise” tab on the books website. If your product, for instance, removes gum from floors in seconds, that would likely be discussed in issues that address floor care or floor safety.
Assuming we want to get our article into an issue that discusses floor care, make sure the topic is planned for an issue at least three months and up to six months down the road. For instance, if this is May and floor care will be featured in the June issue, you’re too late. The editor will likely already have that issue booked. But, if it is to be discussed in September, that’s perfect. You have a good chance of getting in the book.
Pitching the Editor
Here’s where we must get very tactful. The goal of the editor is to provide educational information for the reader, not promote your products. Always keep that in mind.
If the editor believes our goal is to promote a product, not only will the editor ignore our pitch, but if a response is provided at all, he or she will likely refer us to an advertising account rep. With a new editor, this could get us off on the wrong foot and he or she may not be receptive to any future pitches either.
So, what is the right way to contact editors? After we have taken all the steps mentioned earlier, if you have never worked with this editor before, give her a call. You will likely get voice mail. Just leave a message that you will be emailing an article suggestion for a particular issue on floor care, for instance.
In the subject line of your email, write something such as this:
September Issue Floor Care: Ways to remove gum from floors.
In the body of the email, write:
Hello, I left you a voice mail message earlier.
We would like to submit an article for your September issue that discusses how to remove gum from floors quickly and easily.
From here, use a template such as the following:
Industry Challenge: Removing gum from floors is an ongoing problem. It takes time to remove the gum, requires special tools, and, if not removed, could lead to a slip and fall accident.
Solution: New technologies have been introduced that can remove gum quickly, efficiently, and safely. This article will discuss these technologies and how to use them. The result: cleaning workers will spend less time removing gum and more time cleaning.
Finish the email by adding the following:
Thank you for your consideration. The article will be entirely educational and how-to. It will be bylined by me or have an executive byline from our client. We look forward to hearing from you.
Note, we never mentioned the product by name; we called it a new “technology.” To maintain your editor’s trust, stay away from product and company names in the pitch.
Now your job is to wait. If you receive no response after about two weeks, send a follow-up email. If still no response, let it go. Many times, I have had editors contact me months later saying they are interested in that article idea, so don’t lose hope, but don’t push too hard either. Editors don’t like that.
Successful article pitching results in earned media articles.
This video discusses the difference between earned media and branded articles.