11 Tips for Getting Press Coverage When You’re Freelance
Trying to get your work into the press can be a daunting task, especially when you work solo. But if you follow this guide, you’ll be on your way to a wealth of press coverage in no time at all.
Sending emails out to magazines, newspapers and sites on a regular, consistent basis increases the likelihood of getting covered. “Us journalists are often inundated with emails, meaning we can often let a few slip through the net, so don’t be afraid to follow up with a polite email the following week,” said freelance journalist Suzanne Bearne, who writes for The Guardian.
Make it newsworthy
Even features need a news angle, so make it obvious in the subject box and the first line of an email exactly why now is the right time for the publication to write about your business. “There are hundreds of great salons and spas out there so the journalist needs a strong and obvious reason to choose yours,” said Professional Beauty editor Eve Oxberry.
“If there are big changes underway, get in touch before they happen even if some of the information is under embargo or subject to change.” Similarly, if you hold an event, try to get info and images over the next day. The longer you leave it, the less likely it is to get covered.
Tailor your Stories
If you want coverage in a consumer magazine then a celebrity angle or a quirky new treatment might attract attention. For trade mags, getting in touch when you’re opening a new salon, going through a refurb, or taking on a new spa director could give a great angle for an interview. Read the websites of the publications you’re interested in so you know the types of story they run then pitch something relevant for their readers.
Understanding different deadlines is also crucial. “Monthly national magazines work up to five months ahead, which means in September they are already planning their Valentine’s stories,” says Tracey Stapleton, managing director of Spa PR Company. Meanwhile bloggers or online journalists may get a story online within minutes of hearing about it. Tracey advises drawing up a long lead and short lead schedule of activity so you can target the right people with the right story at the right time.
Get good pictures
Investing in good photography really pays off, as magazines are ultimately visual. Tracey advises making sure the pictures you send through are high resolution and show your business in the best light. “Too often a great story has not been published due to the image not being strong enough,” she added.
Low resolution images are sometime fine for online but for print publications high resolutions will be needed. Images print at 300dpi, which stands for dots per inch. So for an image to be printed at a size of 3×3 inches it would need to measure at least 900 x 900 pixels. To work out whether yours is big enough follow these steps
PC – Click File in the toolbar then select Properties from the dropdown menu to see the image size.
Mac – Right click on the image icon and then select Get Info
The more images you send, the better chance your story will be given a decent-sized space in the magazine.
Use social media
Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are great ways to connect to magazines and journalists. Scarlett Wheater, co-founder of Scarlett PR & Marketing, explains, “I often look at the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter to see what information or case studies journalists are seeking.”
Instagram might be a easy way to waste away your lunch break but it’s also a great tool to get directly to the editorial teams of trade press too. It’s an online/social media manager’s job to check and respond to posts they are tagged in and direct messages. It would do you no harm to slide into your desired publications DMs. Just be as snappy as possible and clear with what you are trying to achieve.
Do your Homework
Ask for a forward features list so you can plan, suggests Georgia Seago, Professional Beauty’s features editor. “You’ll know what features are coming up and can get in touch ahead of time to offer your contribution or ask how you can get involved in the article,” she says.
Once you get a response and start a dialogue with the editorial team you’ll have a better idea of how you’ll be included, and you won’t waste time writing something that is irrelevant to what they are working on that month. Another good tip is to find out which regular sections the publication will always be planning for. Georgia says, “A two-page spotlight feature on your salon isn’t the only kind of valuable coverage; so don’t discount sections like news, expert tips or event pages. You can plan ahead and give them something to keep on file, and they will thank you when they’re on deadline and need a ready-made story!”
Have a solid press release
Sending a good press release is often the first step in making contact with journalists. If a writer has all the facts in front of them they can decide if the story is right for them. If there are big gaps and they are busy then it may get passed over in favour of something more clear. Ensuring your press release gets straight to the point also increases the likelihood of getting covered.
Can you make that an exclusive?
“No editor wants to run the exact same content as their competitors, so if you have a good story, try offering it to one magazine or paper exclusively first,” suggests Eve. “Often, publications will dedicate far more space to a story if you can guarantee their readers will be makes you stand out from others.”
the first to see it.” You can still send the information elsewhere afterwards. However, you need to be realistic about the types of story that warrant this approach. If it is about an event, launch or change that has already happened, for example, then it’s better to spread the net wider from the start.
Don’t feel overwhelmed
All of this might sound overwhelming but if you’ve got an interesting story, the journalist will do the hard work. So if you’re pushed for time, don’t be afraid to send a one-line email outlining the basics and asking if they are interested in following it up.
“People worry about putting together a press release if their grammar isn’t great or they’re too busy, but sometimes the best stories come from a short email or call,” says Georgia.
But remember, you need to be quick to respond to follow-up questions, because if the journalist is on deadline and can’t get hold of you the content may get dropped – and they’re more likely to contact you for future opportunities if you were easy to work with the first time.
HJ’s Freelance Week is in Association with Wella Professionals
This article has been updated and originally appeared in the September 2015 issue of Professional Beauty magazine