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Contributed Content

5 Digital PR Steps to Successfully Pitch Client Articles

Contributed articles used to be the terrain of trade magazines, or Op-eds in the newspaper. But, the way the industry now produces (and we consume) media is changing, and I believe that pitching contributed articles is the future of digital PR.

Because while yes, it is still possible to snag an interview or be included in a product round-up, much of my recent successes come from pitching contributed content. Securing published articles with my client's author byline not only helps increase their leadership position, but provides a creative platform to reflect and explore multiple aspects of a company's business - from company culture to production to storytelling.

As mentioned, the pace of digital publications means most most online outlets are looking to update their pages multiple times a day and they are often competing with a host of competitor sites to claim user attention (and hit those ad impression numbers). Most publications do not write all their articles in-house (sometimes due to limited-resources and sometimes as part of their business model), so you have the opportunity to fill in those article blanks by sending over well-written, keyword happy, skimmable articles that are perfect for their audience.

Most outlets are looking to update their pages multiple times a do. They can’t write all the articles in house, so that is where your clients come in!

As a publicist, make sure you are taking advantage of the opportunity to pitch your clients as contributing writers. Here is how:

Find the right publications

The majority of online outlets and trade publications accept contributed content. However, always double check before you pitch to determine if there are any submission guidelines or steps you can take (creating a contributor account for your client first) on your own, so you don't cause more work for (read: annoy) the editor you are pitching.

Typically, if a publication lists contributing writers,  (through a media database like Cision, or on its digital masthead) publication they most likely accept contributed pieces.

From my experience, business publications are more likely to take full articles. I have had luck with outlets, such as, Entrepreneur.com Huffington Post, BusinessInsider.com, and FastCompany.com. Depending on your client, places like Mind Body Green, XoJane, Rebelle Society, or The Muse are worth considering.

Take cues from the news

Back when all the fashion sites were abuzz with Kim K's blonde ambition, Beauty PR folks had an opportunity to pitch contributed pieces on everything from how to get her shade, to what make-up looks best with light hair and an olive complexion. Every day there are actual news stories, and soft-celebrity news that offer opportunities to pitch your clients as experts who can provide a fresh angle (pulling pageviews from competing sites covering the same story) on a popular story. Your own Facebook feed is likely a great resource for identifying these opportunities.

Be ready to write

It's a good idea to have a few articles pre-written that you know are a fit for a particular type of website. But in the example above, your job as a publicists is to be combing those headlines, ready to pitch fast and deliver faster. Become accustomed to the format of the articles on the sites you're pitching, have statistics, corresponding images, bios and your client ready to give approval. Oftentimes you have hours, not days, to turn around an article. And if you can meet that deadline, you are much more likely to get the ok from that editor for a second piece.

Pitch multiple article ideas

I find it helpful to come up with a few different topics to offer the media. This way if the editor isn’t interested in one, they will hopefully say yes to another. I feel like this lessens the chance of rejection. Get ideas for articles by reviewing top content and offering a fresh angle. Think back to those principles of newsworthiness and offer a few different types of articles - perhaps one that is more informational, another that is more personal, and still another that offers multiple sources for a trending topic.

Make your pitch concise

As with any pitch, I find that less is more.

I spend the first few sentences explaining why my client is important and should be considered an expert. I usually include all the obvious information, such as, their title, company, any important accolades.

I make it very clear that my client is available to write a full article on the topics I have listed. Hopefully, this will pique an editor’s attention because they know it will be less work for them.

In the same way that we must write well-researched, relevant pitches to editors for product placement, pitching a contributed article requires an in-depth understanding of the publication's audience, requirements and a seasoned ability to write for the web. In fact, taking some time to learn what makes for compelling, share-happy content on the web, (check out something like
Get Your Writing Seen By Millions On The Top Major Websites) could be your first step toward making this one of the most valuable skills you have to offer clients in this brand new media world.

Image via: Stokpic

 

FPRF Fashion PR, Marketing & Social Media News for the Week of April 20, 2015

Emotional Brand Connections, Instagram Analytics & Lauren Conrad on Networking

  • Lauren Conrad tells us a thing or two about networking the effective way. (via Refinery29)
  • Rent the Runway CEO Laura Montini on why launching a startup isn’t really risky business. (via Inc.)
  • Brand collaborations always seem to crash the Internet, buy why? And why does it keep happening? (via Quartz)
  • What it’s like to be the official costume embroiderer of Game of Thrones. Where can we sign up for a job like this? (via Worn Through)
  • Lilly Pulitzer being sold out at Target could actually be a good thing. (via AdWeek)
  • Mega magazine publisher Meredith lays of 100 people while it does some major rearranging. (via New York Times)
  • A few easy steps to launching your own fashion biz. (via Biz Journals)
  • What is it about some brands that makes us so darn emotional? (via Harvard Business Review)
  • Christian Louboutin is seeing 50 shades of nude as he expands his line of heels to various hues of the flesh tone color. (via The Cut)
  • The secret weapon you’ll want to learn more about for on the mark Instagram analytics (via the Next Web)

Favorite Fashion Videos

Image via: Aly Winstead

How NOT to pitch a fashion buyer SOLD: The PR Couture Buyer Series

Top 3 Mistakes Designers Make When Contacting a Fashion Buyer

This is an excerpt from SOLD: The PR Couture Fashion Buyer Guide, which comes complimentary with the purchase of our Fashion Buyer Contact List. The e-guide features tips gleaned from a conversation with a buyer at a top specialty retailer. 


Oh the magic of the pitch. The strength and relevance of this piece of email communication is absolutely the difference between being clicked into the trash, or moved into the prospect folder. While designers make many mistakes in their emails, three are more glaring than others.

Pitch Mistake #1

A buyer is not the same as a prospective customer, so don’t communicate with her that way. You aren’t appealing to her fashion sense, you are appealing to her business sense. To that end, minimize the focus on your design philosophy or inspiration, because buyers simply aren’t very interested. Stick to the facts, who, what, why, where and how much. Charlotte explains, “We care about margins and sourcing more than anything. Offering more will prove annoying.”Included in this guide is a handy template you can use to reach out to a buyer for the first time. Regardless of how you choose to structure your pitch, make sure your email includes answers to the following

five questions:

  • Who are you, what is your basic background?
  • What do you design?
  • Where are you made and based?
  • Why is it directly relevant to those who shop at my store?
  • What is the MSRP?

Pitch Mistake #2

In a word, attachments. Do not overload your email with line sheets, lookbooks, sketches, trade show snaps, flyers, logos, etc. The only graphics that should be included are a handful of product shots and maybe an editorial shot to get a sense of your brand personality. Instead of including these images as attachments, embed them directly in the email. Charlotte suggests that the goal behind these images should be to “tease the offering but make sure you pick your best products. The show stopper pieces that make me want to know more. Then I might be encouraged to ask for a line sheet or lookbook.”

Pitch Mistake #3

Traditionally, your line sheet will include a short product description or key product attributes. Avoid the mistake of being too creative, out of the box or esoteric with your line sheet. Save the creative imagery and experiential graphic design for your lookbook and website. Instead, let the product details and prices shine through on the line sheet. Buyers need to easily understand so focus on delivering that information clearly.

PS: Be your own sales force! Our Fashion Buyer Contact List grants you instant access to buyers at more than 175 domestic retailers (and 10 international retailers), including multi-level buyer contact information for all major department stores. Stop wasting time researching and start pitching your line!

Photo credit: Made Gold

Meet Crosby Noricks

Hi. I'm Crosby, Founder of PR Couture, Fashion Brand Strategist and PR Girl Mentor. I care about supporting and celebrating fashion publicists as well as helping companies connect with their audiences in more meaningful ways. Recently, iMedia included me in their annual list of 25 Internet Marketing Leaders and Innovators, along with people from Starbucks, Twitter and Volkswagon, which I think is pretty neat. Like Elle Woods, I am a Gemini-vegetarian (that's about where the similarities end). Let's connect: Check out my full bio, Brand Elixir sessions or shoot me a note.