Toolkit

Mining Editorial Calendars: Organize Your PR Pitches

By on Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mining editorial calendars can help you plan your PR outreach efforts and be successful. Photo via Creative Commons.

There’s a secret tool to help public relations professionals plan their story pitches in advance for magazines, major blogs and other publications – editorial calendars.  Published months in advance, editorial calendars offer a treasure trove of information about publications and give you the inside scoop on when a publication goes to press (so you won’t miss those deadlines).

Fall is a great time to collect editorial calendars and organize your pitching calendar for the next year. How do you get started with compiling your list of dream pitches and publications? First get out your list of publications that you are targeting. Check each publication’s website for an editorial calendar, advertising kit, media kit or writer’s guidelines. The materials are often in a large and graphic PDF file that you download or request for download.

Use a spreadsheet to track the publications you have looked at and the relevant information for your work. Log on the spreadsheet upcoming topic ideas that might be relevant to your work and the deadlines. Include on the spreadsheet contact information for the publication so you won’t have to go rummaging back through the often voluminous PDF files to find it. Many people are often surprised to realize how far ahead they need to be thinking for that “special issue” and how close to print deadlines they had pitched something in the past.

Jot down your story ideas next to the relevant dates and publications on your spreadsheet. Your story ideas should be relevant to the issue you are pitching. Creative stretches are usually not appreciated by editorial staff.

If you use Microsoft Outlook or another type of productivity software, schedule appointments in your system to remind you of important upcoming deadlines on the editorial calendars you care about. Craft pitches that are timely, compelling and link directly to the topic at hand being featured. Ask others to review your pitches before they go out. Submit your pitches on time to the publication. Make sure you follow all instructions. If the publication says it does not want phone calls about pitches, respect it.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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