This article was originally published by The Buzz Maker in May of 2007, but some folks requested that I share it again. Enjoy this slightly edited version.
Write for the Reader
Content is king. We’ve all heard that saying more than once. And, for folks trying to put out a quality newspaper, magazine, website, Blog, or other media marvel, it’s still true.
What Does the Reader Want or Need?
One of the most important things should be doing as Public Relations professionals is connecting with Editorial teams to determine what kind of content their readers want so we can deliver it while simultaneously achieving that somewhat challenging goal of making the Editor’s job easier. But a number of Editor’s I’ve spoken with recently seem to have a good deal of trouble getting editorial contributions that don’t read like an infomercial. If you want space for an infomercial, you need to buy it – it’s called advertising.
The Editor’s Choice
As a PR professional, you do not want advertising space. You want Editorial coverage. You want to get an article, or feature, or news item or interview or review published. You want your company or client to become a trusted, informative voice for the readership they desire to reach. To do so, you must be a thoughtful content provider for your Editor and his or her readers, because when you do, you become a trusted source of information regarding the industry, product, information or service (i.e. client or company) you represent.
What to Do When You Call
When you have that unique opportunity to speak with an Editor or Journalist and they are willing to give you a few minutes of their valuable time, ask them as many questions as they will let you.
What would they consider to be the hottest topics for their readership currently? How are they trying to deliver information to their readership in a unique way as compared to competitive publications? How is the current state of the union, fuel costs, new federal or state guidelines, global warming or war time effecting the industry and readership they serve in unique ways? How is that industry responding in both positive and negative ways? Do they accept by-lines? Most specifically, if they received a ready-to-publish article in their inbox today, what would it look like? What format would it be in? How many words do they want? What section of the publication do they need it for? Can they refer you to a sample? What is the deadline?
Now, Think Like a Solution Provider
Armed with the answers to these important questions, carefully consider how your writing can provide relevant content to that Editor while writing for the reader and positioning your company or client as the trusted, informative voice on the subject you select. Then, collaborate with the management team to collect the necessary information and craft an article that fills the bill, and send it in advance of the deadline. You’ll be surprised at the response you get.
A Personal Story
I received the greatest phone call from an Editor once after receiving something I submitted to him for a new section of his publication he was trying to develop. He called from his direct line, and I didn’t recognize the number, so answered in my typical professional manner. Without giving his name, he simply said, “If you were here right now, I would kiss you. This is perfect.”
By working hard to create a content solution for your Editor, you create a win-win situation for everyone. And, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Copyright 2009, Tracy L. Teuscher, APR, The Buzz Maker! LLC