Patience is said to be a virtue, and no one is more familiar with the realities of this cliché than public relations professionals. Landing the right coverage for your client can take months of planning, and in some cases in even years. Even in in a digital-focused world, clients still love to see their names on and in magazines. Exactly how long does it take to make this happen? In the realm of public relations, the answer may vary, but by following the right steps could make landing long-lead coverage that much easier.
Like with any pitching, the journey begins with starting your research as soon as possible. This means not only finding the right publication, but understanding their topics and audiences too. Doing so can be as easy (or tough, depending on the publication) as gathering each publication’s editorial calendar. This always gives you an inside peek into what they’re planning for the upcoming year.
“For this type of coverage, starting anywhere from three to five months in advance is generally ideal,” says TK account lead Colleen Murphy. To be featured in a holiday gift guide, getting a pitch to the editor no later than June is key. Although tedious, having the patience to grab the “low-hanging fruit” can go a long way in securing the story later.
The next stop is the actual interaction. Reporters get hundreds of emails every day from other PR professionals who are just as hungry as you. This is when you have to look not into content but also delivery. Is your subject line compelling enough for you to want to open the email? Once the email is opened, how are you going to keep the reader’s attention? It doesn’t hurt to reference previous work or send a compliment their way. Colleen adds that “reporters have egos, and you definitely shouldn’t be afraid to stroke them.”
So you’ve tailored your pitch and sent it to the right editor. But then comes radio silence. Contrary to popular belief, silence does not necessarily mean it’s the end of the road. Oftentimes, reporters will file away your pitch and (if you’re lucky) they will reply when your pitch applies to them. The hardest part about this is trusting that they actually will. This brings us back to your pitch. Not only does your pitch have to be tailored, but also searchable in case your reporter needs to go back and find what you wrote.
“For example, if you want coverage on something like ‘liquid biopsy,’ you should include it in the subject line for future searches.” says Colleen. “Make it easier for reporters to come back to you.”
Securing long-lead coverage includes preparation and stops along the way. It may be easier to type a blanket pitch, send it over the wire, and cross your fingers that it was good enough to get picked up. But in order to get the satisfaction of tangible, glossy coverage, patience is essential. The journey may take a little longer, but the views in the end will make it well worth the wait.