Securing a place in round-ups
As well as writing first-person experience pitches, you might want your product or service to be featured in round-ups of the best in your industry. Again, you can check on Twitter for requests under #journorequest – for instance, in the lead up to Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, there are always journalists looking for businesses to feature.
But you can also make yourself known by contacting the journalists in your section of the magazine, newspaper or website and again, writing a captivating headline followed by a brief intro to yourself and your business. Always hyperlink in your copy, like this:
I’ve written a book called The Freelance Mum and think it would be perfect for your readers.
Press releases, in my opinion, are OUT. Don’t waste your time with this. Write a couple of paragraphs about you/your work, have a few excellent photos and link to your social media in your email signature. This will be enough for them to decide whether they’d like to keep you on file.
Again, find the right person and use their first name. When people pitch to me and begin: ‘hi there’ – I delete before reading, as I know they haven’t written this specifically for me and my website; it’s a mass mailout, so it probably won’t be a good fit.
If you’re keen to be featured in print mags, they usually have content prepared three months in advance, so bear this in mind when pitching yourself. Start thinking about Christmas in August, Valentine’s Day in November etc.
Another way to get yourself in the minds of these editors and journalists is to network. Follow them on social media and respond to their posts. Tag them in appropriate posts (eg. if they’ve just said: ‘I’m having an afternoon slump’ and you do an Instagram post about a delicious snack you’ve just baked, or a yoga video you’ve just uploaded – tag them).
Also, go to talk and events, if you can, where they’re speaking or likely to be. Lots of magazines put on weekender events. That might be an opportunity to meet them and forge a more real connection.
Earlier on, I mentioned that I responded to Harriet Minter’s Twitter request for women who had experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. There are always loads of these popping up on Twitter. I saw a tweet from journalist Poorna Bell about female breadwinners. I contacted her and was included in her article for iNews – with a nice link through to my online courses.
When I was starting out with The Early Hour, a Sunday Times writer was writing a piece about the extortionate costs of childcare and looking for working mums to include in a feature. I put myself forward, as I was working around my daughter’s naps at the time, to save on childcare, and she included me in the piece with links to my website.
If you have that professional photo to hand, they may well use that as the main image for the roundup. Your face/product will then be the most prominent and draw more attention to your part of the wider feature. That was the case with the piece by Poorna Bell – I sent two professional images and she used both in the piece; one as the main image (that appeared on social media when the article was shared) and the other further down.
Being included as a case study will also remind the editor or journalist about you and what you do. If they are then doing another feature, they may well come back to you. This happened after Jessica Salter included me as a case study for a Telegraph piece. She then started following me on Instagram and when she had an idea to write about ‘out of office’ emails, she saw from a post I’d written that I had an opinion on this so called on me again for comment.
If you make life easy for a journalist – be available, attentive, answer their questions fully, send photos, don’t leave them hanging – they are much more likely to come back to you again.
Alix Walker, editor-in-chief at Stylist Magazine, found me on Instagram as she was writing about being a freelance mum and wanted a quote. I gave her one, we stayed in contact (I actually interviewed her for my website). When she was then doing a round-up for the ‘Style List’, she’d also been following the work I was doing with Clementine App at the time, so included it in the list. Another time, she was watching my Instagram Stories and saw me mention a rucksack made from recycled plastic bottles. For a separate Style List, she asked where I’d bought it and included this.
It may not appear as glamorous as the nationals or glossies but don’t turn your nose up at local news. Being featured in your local paper can help you to build a local following, and the story may then be picked up by the nationals. So contact the journalists or the editor, introduce yourself and your business/work and give them a reason to write about you. I used to write for local and regional newspapers and was always happy to be contacted by someone doing interesting, meaningful, beautiful or important work, who I could interview and profile.