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Getting Ink for Your Design

January 16, 2014

Today’s post is courtesy of Christopher Nappi, account coordinator at Rhino PR. Questions or comments? E-mail him at chris@rhinopr.com, follow him on Twitter at @RhinoPRBoston or visit www.rhinopr.com.

magazinesHow do editors like to be approached? What are the best practices in the PR world? How do firms get ink for their designs? The Boston Society of Architects (BSA) hosted a panel at Architecture Boston Expo (ABX) that discussed the importance of understanding editors and their publications, how to get articles published, and how public relations can raise your company’s profile. Fiona Luis, deputy editor of ArchitectureBoston magazine and Rachel Levitt-Slade, editor of Boston Home magazine, were joined by Susan Shelby, president and CEO of Rhino Public Relations, for a fun, informative and interactive panel discussion on press for the design world.

Fiona and Rachel both spoke about how important it is to understand their publication’s focus and read their magazines. Know the columns and what the editors are looking for by way of products, projects, and trends – before you pitch your ideas. Preparation and research is the most critical step in submitting an article or idea to an editor, and your preparedness won’t go overlooked.

Editors are always looking for the next big idea or cool trend they can write about first. If another publication is already reporting on a trend, it’s old news. Make sure that your news fits the style of the magazine and would be interesting to its readers. And don’t pitch cutting-edge news to every publication at once: offering an editor an “exclusive” first look at your news will go a long way to both ensuring coverage and building your relationship with the editor.

Social media is used by some editors to put the feelers out for hot, new trends. However, social media use varies by publication and editor. Some have a bigger presence on social media, whereas others rarely use it. Social media has its place, but the panel acknowledged it couldn’t replace personal relationships and interactions with editors.

Susan shared some tips for starting a public relations effort and working with the media. First, know your target market: Who are you trying to reach? Who is your ideal client and what publications do they read? Second, identify the key messages that outline who you are and what differentiates you from your competition. Third, do your homework – reading the publications your target clients read, learning what the editors write about, and building a media list that includes key contacts from those publications. Finally, craft your email pitch, staying short, sweet, and to the point. Susan reiterated that patience in PR yields results, as reporters receive hundreds of pitches every day. If they are interested in your news, they will respond. Remember that public relations is a marathon, not a sprint – and the goal is to build long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with reporters and editors.

During the closing remarks, all three panelists gave suggestions on how to get your news or article published and the right steps to take. One key suggestion offered by Rachel was to “act as her eyes and ears” for news and trends, as most editors depend on readers and others in the industry to report on what’s going on. Susan reminded the audience to tailor their pitch to fit the publication. A one-size-fits-all approach to pitching doesn’t yield results. Fiona concluded the panel discussion by providing the audience with her “3 F’s” for pitching the media:

  1. Familiarity – Know the who, what, and why of your pitch. Make sure you are familiar with the publications, stories, and editors. You have to understand the newspaper or magazine in order to contribute to it.
  2. Flexibility – Identify a person, place, or device that tells a story for the editor, but be willing to switch gears. Be prepared and ready to help him or her in any way you can. Sometimes deadlines are short, and being flexible is vital to getting published.
  3. Facts – Be clear, concise, and smart about what you send to the editor – whether it’s by email or phone. Edit your pitch and be nimble.

Securing your first hit in a top-tier publication may be a challenge, but the exposure for you and your business is priceless. Following these tips from the pros is a good place to start.

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