Friday, January 13, 2012

Pitching a feature

The power of feature article is immense. It may run to several pages in a magazine, or a double-page spread in a newspaper, nearly always accompanied by pictures. It's the sort of publicity that you can't buy, as it comes with the implicit editorial endorsement of wherever it appears. If you believe you have material for a feature about your business, review the possible journals where it might appear. It doesn't have to be a national paper or magazine. It's possible that the best place may be a low-circulation trade journal which is read by your ideal potential customer. These local or special-interest publications are also easier to persuade to take a story. 

Always remember that an editor can spot a thinly-veiled publicity pitch. Your story must have human interest or local interest, and preferably both. There should also be some obvious photo opportunities. It's often a good idea to contact the deputy editor, since they may have more time to speak to you, and if they have any ambition, they want the Editor's job, so are always looking to place impressive copy.
Here's what to do:

  1. Read the journal to get a feel for the sort of features they publish
  2. Create a one-line hook which includes an interesting angle
  3. Contact the deputy editor by phone initially
  4. Ask if you can send backup material by email
  5. Be prepared for rejection. Try again a few months later
  6. If they say they will consider the story, follow up politely
  7. Note the name of everyone you speak to
  8. Thank everyone for their consideration of your pitch
  9. Take their advice if they suggest another publication
  10. Don't give up. As long as you have a good story, someone will publish it

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