17 Feb 5 Things to Remember (and Do) if you want to Get Published
We usually have a high hit rate in getting the magazine articles that we write published in print magazines or on a magazine’s website. That’s because the editors who decide what to publish are always in need of content to serve the interests of their readership.
- Know the media outlet and check the editorial calendar
Make sure that the story that you want to tell aligns with the focus of the magazine or website. How do you learn this? Go to the magazine’s website and check out the About Us page. Also, see if they have info on their site that says what their requirements are for submitted articles. Some outlets only publish material written by their staff, in which case submitting a completed article would not be appropriate. Other times, the media will have strict requirements as to the level of content or the format for material that they will publish. If it looks like there’s a fit, go to the Advertising section of the website and look for the editorial calendar. If there is one, check to see if the schedule calls for a piece with content that is directly related to what you have to say. When it comes time to pitch the editor, you will have more success if you can present the fact that you have inputs that directly align with a specific publication opportunity.
- Pitch the editor in advance
If you have any question as to whether the editor will be interested in what you have to say, it pays to communicate with the editor in advance. Draft a brief abstract describing the content and flow of your article, and make it clear how your article will serve the editorial calendar opportunity or the general interest of the media audience. Bounce the info off the editor and listen clearly to his or her response. They may have good feedback as to what to do to tailor the article to make it more publishable.
- Cast the story to respond directly to readers’ interests
Typically, editors that we work with are interested in publishing material that has a problem/solution orientation. They like to have articles introduce a particular problem that readers may have or be interested in, and then discuss how the problem is solved. Often an editor won’t publish an article unless a specific end customer application is mentioned to validate that the solution works. Manuscripts are typically bounced back to the author if the article sounds like an advertisement for the author’s product.
That’s not to say that product features and benefits can’t be discussed. Rather than leading off with a feature list, product attributes should be presented as a fulfilment of customer requirements, which are directly related to the problem being solved. Sometimes an editor doesn’t want a specific product to be mentioned by name at all. When this happens, we usually have success in identifying the product or vendor in a visual that goes along with the article (as an “example” of a problem solution).
- Include compelling visual content – you might get it on the cover
Since we’ve mentioned visuals… Product ‘beauty shots” are fine for inclusion in an article, but they shouldn’t be the main visuals. Editors typically want to see examples of the product in use in end applications, because this is what readers will identify with most. Be sure to take care in obtaining photos for use with articles. Editors will always need high-resolution files (300 dots/inch) for publication in print magazines, and the images need to be in sharp focus and lighted so that it’s clear what’s going on. Sometimes we add callouts to images to identify what’s in the image that relates to the text of the article. If the photo is sufficiently interesting, and it relates to a focus topic of the particular magazine issue, you might find that the editor will put it on the magazine’s cover – a big plus if you want to use the article as a sales tool.
If a diagram or plot will help explain the problem or its solution, including one will add visual interest to the article as well as contributing to ease of understanding the information.
- Listen to the editor’s feedback
In our PR practice we always view editors as customers – customers for material that we want them to publish. As with any other sales opportunity, we listen closely to feedback that we get from editors upon reviewing abstracts or articles, and we modify our “product” as appropriate to serve their needs. As a particular editor gains a comfort factor that you understand and can meet their needs, he or she will come back to you for more content in the future, which will make both of your lives easier.