I recently talked to Patricia Brooks about the opportunities when you take advantage of other organizations' editorial calendars. Most magazines publish their plans of themes they will cover in the year ahead in what they term editorial calendars.
Patricia, who runs MatchMap Media, has pitched stories for more than a decade. Her advice: Editorial calendars reveal places that need you for ideas and copy as much as you need them to promote your business or cause. You may locate unexpected opportunities. As an example she gave, Glamour magazine has an upcoming issue with a global theme, which may be a good fit for a profile about young women working in international development.
What to Do
- Look broadly: Think creatively about how you might cover your industry or issues. Green, global, family, entrepreneurship--all these and more can be covered by a wide range of publications, as the Glamour example shows.
- Plan ahead: Now is a good time to start getting your ducks in a row for 2015. Expect to see calendars in the next few months that look ahead to the coming year.
- Tailor wisely: Use your time and resources effectively. You still have to tailor the pitch to the target audience of the publication. Unfamiliar with it? Read a few issues or go online to get a sense of the publication's usual subjects and style.
- From the masthead, by looking online, or by phoning, find the right person to contact. Then email a short query to explain your idea, why it fits the focus of a particular month, and how you will be able to deliver a great article that will meet their needs. (Of course, you'll follow any specific submission guidelines that the publication makes available, too.)
Where to Look
Because she does this all the time, Patricia subscribes to the media service Cision. One feature is the ability to search the editorial calendars of thousands of publications by keyword--which can result in unexpected but useful matches. Other paid services (no endorsements implied) include Meltwater. If you think you will do enough of this to make the investment worthwhile, take advantage of their free trials, but also be prepared for their sales pitch.
Otherwise, look at the websites of specific publications. Your net will be smaller, of course, but you can still see results.
If you have a specific objective that press coverage will meet, consider contracting with a professional who does this all the time.
Free versus Paid
Important to point out: Most publications use editorial calendars to solicit advertising in addition to content. You may decide you want to place an ad or pay for sponsored content. However, this is different than the "pitching" that freelance writers and PR people do that results in a more journalistic (and unpaid) treatment of your topic.