Today’s Biz Ladies post is from Amy Flurry, a writer, editor and stylist for 18 years with work featured in InStyle, Conde Nast Traveler, Paste, House Beautiful, O at Home, County Living and Daily Candy. Amy has also authored a new DIY publicity book, Recipe for Press: Pitch Your Story Like the Pros & Create a Buzz. Flurry now travels the country giving her popular DIY publicity workshop that serves to strengthen relationships between editors and entrepreneurs. Today Amy is contributing her knowledge on how to establish positive and ongoing relationships with editors to help pitch and promote. Thanks, Amy, for this great post! — Stephanie
Read the full post after the jump . . .
As a freelance writer of 18 years, I’ve long understood the importance of cultivating relationships with editors. Among the ways I gained their confidence (and assignments) was by studying the magazines before I pitched, turning articles in on time and never balking at revisions. I also made a few trips a year to New York to meet my editors. If they couldn’t break for lunch then I’d bring them a coffee. This went a long way toward building a professional rapport, and more than a few friendships. Placing a priority on relationships, alongside solid work, landed me features and even editorships at some of the top magazines in the country.
In many ways, when I’m consulting people on how to work with editors and get press attention for their product or business, it doesn’t get any more complicated than that. One longtime editor and friend said it best: “No one should forget that the ‘R’ in PR stands for ‘relations’ . . . relationships are everything in the world, and the smaller the world (fashion, food, shelter), the more important it is for the PR person to develop relationships that really matter.”
In what specific ways might you go about building relationships with editors and writers? There are so many that I was moved to write a book to serve as a communications manual about it! But here are the most neglected methods and those that can take immediate effect toward improving placement potential!
The single most important thing you can do to create a positive relationship with editors and writers is to return their calls or emails right away. Editorial staffs function on a series of production deadlines, so when one editor holds up the page, they hold up three other editors behind them. Deadlines in the digital world are even tighter, and there are fewer people to help you meet them.
Respond to every editor’s request with creativity, courtesy, quality, and lightning speed. Over time, you’ll become a “go-to” source and the first person that editor will reach out to the next time there is an opportunity or even a last-minute spot to fill.
Do your homework.
Read the magazine or blog you want to be part of before you pitch an idea. Your pitch doesn’t have to be long (believe it or not, one concise paragraph and a great picture is preferred and enough for an editor to know if they are interested in moving forward). But those few sentences should demonstrate that you have a clear sense of the type of story or product the writer cares about. For example, “I’ve been following your First Bites page and know that you scout the very best artisanal food in the South,” is an introduction that suggests someone well versed in the specific pages of an assistant food editor and someone who might merit that editor’s time and attention. Additionally, an editor knows it takes work to connect these dots and will likely give the pitch real consideration. By contrast, a non-personalized pitch sent in a mass or blanket email is the first to be deleted.
Remember to follow up.
A good publicist always follows up on a pitch. Once. But when you follow up three to four times on ideas that have been responded to with limited interest, you’ll stand out in all the wrong ways. There’s a difference between persistence and pushiness. When someone acts like they’re entitled to coverage or wants control over what I write, I want to drop the subject altogether.
Be understanding when things go wrong.
Because more than one editor is involved in the final decision about what goes on a page, there’s always the chance that a product or story may be approved by one editor and nixed by the next. So often cuts are beyond your editor’s control. It’s ok to express disappointment if it got close but was cut in the final edits, but do so in a positive and polite way, being sure to thank your editor for their efforts. Believe me, the editor was rooting for your story and feels badly, too, and will work extra hard to remember your brand at the very next opportunity.
Book a “deskside.”
Often, the best stories stem from visits with editors, one-on-one time at the desk. Informal in nature, a deskside is time with an editor to make a face-to-face connection and deepen an existing rapport. When a publicist or brand representative takes the time to come to me with a brief presentation of what’s new or to ask how they can help me, it shows a real commitment to relationship.
Remember the Golden Rule of Publicity.
The editor/PR relationship is about mutual respect, just like any other important and lasting relationship. People who treat others as tools or “outlets” are missing the message that will help them get their message to the greatest audience.