Most business owners are familiar with the press release; an effective way to announce important news about your company.
However, when it comes to getting results from your PR, article pitches can be an equally effective way of getting your business’s name into print or on a relevant online platform.
Why do an article pitch?
Writing editorial content for the local press or an industry publication has the following benefits:
- Status: having your name recognised as the author of an industry-related article will boost your professional reputation.
- Trust: potential clients and fellow professionals will recognise you as an expert in your field.
- Opportunities: the more your name appears in the local or national press or industry publications, the more fellow professionals will reach out to you to expand their network.
- SEO: getting a link to your website from a high domain authority online publication is a great boost to your Google ranking.
- Leads: regularly drawing on your industry expertise in print or online will not just create a buzz around your name, it will lead to enquiries and ultimately conversions.
- Content: once it’s published, your article is something to write about in your blog and shout about across all your social media channels.
What should you write about?
To pique the curiosity of a commissioning editor, your article pitch must be relevant, newsworthy and well thought out. The type of article you write will depend on your industry, but your idea should always be timely, specific and offer a benefit to the reader. Ideal’s MD Jess Shailes often writes in the local and industry press on a variety of subjects ranging from running a small business to tips for digital marketing.
Other examples could be:
- An interior designer may write about new lighting trends to look out for in 2021.
- An estate agent could write a fact-based opinion piece on the immediate future of the property market in the wake of Covid-19.
- A landscape gardener could write a guide to the best new bulbs to plant this autumn for spring colour.
Who should I pitch to?
Again, it depends on your idea, but you should always have a target audience in mind. In a nutshell, you need to reach your ideal client through the publication and to do that you need to come with an idea that fits in with the ethos of the magazine or website you’re approaching. You can send your article pitch to more than one publication as long as it’s appropriately targeted. A scattergun approach to a long list of publications is far less likely to work than a targeted pitch to one or two carefully chosen magazines or newspapers.
How to write a pitch for an article
An article pitch should have the following format:
- Headline: think of an attention-grabbing header that will double as the title for the article itself.
- Introduction: introduce yourself and the concept in a short paragraph. For example, “Jess Shailes, MD of the Ideal Marketing Company would like to submit an article about communicating in a crisis’.
- More information: if necessary, you can include up to two short paragraphs describing what the proposed article is about.
- Contact details: let the publication know how to contact you, should they require more information or wish to commission the piece.
- About the author: add a short biography at the bottom of the pitch.
Pitching it right
The main problem business owners encounter when writing articles is understanding the difference between editorial and advertorial content. Many publications, notably local lifestyle magazines, sell space for businesses to write about themselves and/or allocate them ‘free’ space in the publication when they buy an advert.
Due to this, editorial content, which is not paid for, cannot be seen to be a ‘puff piece’ or a plug for a business. Mentioning the company name in the intro is of course fine and often you can get a link if the article is online. However, mentioning the business’s name more than once or twice within the body of the article is a no no.
Increasingly, there is a trend for cash-strapped publications to try to monetise their content by charging for editorial. This may be appropriate in certain circumstances. However, here at Ideal, we usually advise clients against this as it is not an industry-wide phenomenon and we can often secure our clients editorial content without any financial outlay.
How do I write an article?
Obviously pitching an article does require some degree of writing ability. That said, part of the job of the editor and sub editor at the publication you are writing for is to edit and refine your copy, so there is no pressure to achieve perfection.
That said, the more targeted and well-written your article pitch is, the more likely you are to have your idea commissioned. And the better the resulting article, the more likely the publication is to come back to you for more.
If you are thinking of branching out into article writing, it’s worth considering getting professional help. A good marketing agency will not only identify whether article writing is a worthwhile strategy for you, they will also be able to prepare pitches and articles on your behalf with your input.
If you are writing an article yourself, bearing in mind the following points will help:
- Plan each paragraph making sure it sticks to the brief, starting with an introduction and ending with a conclusion
- Keep to the word count and any style guidelines. It’s always a good idea to look at other articles in the publication to get an idea of the correct tone of voice.
- Write a first draft. Don’t get overwhelmed trying to get it perfect first time. Even the professionals write at least two drafts before they are happy. A good trick is always to leave a draft overnight and return to it the next day. Mistakes and areas to improve are always far clearer with a fresh set of eyes.
- Proofread it yourself then get someone else to read it for you. Your computer’s spelling and grammar software are great tools, but human proofreading will always pick up mistakes and improvements that computers can’t.
Article pitches from the experts
If you like the idea of seeing your name in the press but don’t have the time or the skills to make it happen, the Ideal Marketing Company can include articles as part of a marketing plan designed to boost your return on investment. With access to a huge database of relevant publications, the skills to target the publications you want to be featured in and a team of professional writers on tap, we can help you be seen in all the right places.
To find out more please contact [email protected] or call 01854 44 55 43.
Louise is an experienced and versatile copywriter whose passion is bringing any subject to life through the written word. She thrives on using her imaginative approach to identify and implement exciting PR opportunities for clients. A career spent coming up with creative content for tight deadlines in consumer magazine journalism and PR means Louise doesn’t know the meaning of the term ‘writer’s block!’