Recently I’ve been getting a great deal of publicity for my clients by “working” the editorial calendars. I realize that many people are not familiar with this excellent publicity opportunity.
Here is some background information. An editorial calendar is a schedule of the topics a publication plans to cover over a period of time. You can often find this information on the magazine’s website, usually in the advertising or media kit section. The calendars give you a good idea of what interests the editors, and what opportunities there may be for your story ideas. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the calendars can change a lot, and often give little information. For example, the calendar might just say “widgets,” but not indicate what aspect of widgets the story will cover. In spite of those limitations, editorial calendars are an important component for many PR programs.
Here is the process:
Research the calendars for the magazines that are important to you. You can typically find the calendars on the publications’ websites. (Check the “advertising” or “media kit” section.) Various PR services, such as Cision, MyMediaInfo and Vocus, also track the calendars.
Note the topics that might be appropriate for your business or organization.
Organize your own calendar, listing the publication(s), topic(s), section(s) of the magazine (if known) and issue date(s). For example, an entry might be Publication (Infosecurity), Topic (biometrics), Section (special focus) and Issue Date (January).
Add a column for comments so you can track your activities. I use a Microsoft Word table, but you can do this with Excel or with one of the online services.
Develop some story angles about the topic. Often the editorial calendar just lists topics (e.g., “widgets”), not story angles (e.g., “the growing importance of widgets in medical imaging”). Most editors are open to ideas, so develop a few in advance.
Contact the writer and check:
- Whether the article is still scheduled.
- Whether the angle has been determined (if it is not obvious from the editorial calendar).
- If the angle has been determined, show how your information can “fit” the topic.
- If the angle hasn’t been determined, suggest one.
- And, if the magazine accepts contributed articles, offer to submit a feature.
Here is a sample message: “Is the article on biometrics still scheduled for January? If so, who is writing it? Has the angle been determined? Asking on behalf of Biometrics Plus, which develops and markets fingerprint identification systems.”
If there is a potential “match” for your business or organization, e-mail appropriate information to the editor. Put the month and editorial calendar item that you’re targeting in the subject line. Remember that your material cannot be too self-serving; you need to relate the information to the story angle. Also indicate what other help you can provide, such as arranging interviews with experts or providing visuals.
Here is a sample message: “As promised, I am forwarding information on the fingerprint identification system from Biometrics Plus for possible inclusion in the article on biometrics scheduled for January. Also, I would be happy to arrange for you to speak with some of the people who are presently using the system to cost-effectively increase security.”
If you do not hear anything for two or three working days, follow up with the editor to check whether your information “fits” the article.
Start this process about five months before the publication date for a monthly magazine, and about two to three months before the publication date for a weekly publication. You may be early, but better early than late. Editorial calendars change frequently. Topics get deleted, moved or changed. By contacting the editors early, you’ll be better able to track things.
I have successfully maintained PR programs for clients almost exclusively by “working” the editorial calendars. You can do the same.