It can be hard to get your news picked up.
Coming up with a pitch that coaxes a reporter or editor to cover your story is no easy task, and PR pros who pitch non-news will find that their emails end up in journalists’ trash bins.
However, there’s a way to spread your influence and help busy editors at the same time: guest posts.
Here are five ways you can get published on Ragan.com—or any publication:
1. Say something new, or offer a unique perspective.
Editors are under pressure to publish a large amount of content, while ensuring that it’s something their subscribers want to read or share.
A different angle or perspective on a topic such as blogger relations or pitching can capture attention. Some organizations and PR firms will run studies on a particular topic. Reports that contain interesting insights can be fodder for a good story.
2. Stay on topic.
Just as you shouldn’t submit a press release that doesn’t fit a publication, don’t send a story or pitch about insurance sales or fashion curation.
Look through the publication to which you’d like to submit stories. Not only will you get a feel for its writing style, but you’ll also understand its focus and sought-after topics. You might find that a listicle on content marketing or infographic about visual media tools is more enticing than a lengthy piece about SEO.
Make sure your other interactions with editors are helpful, too. If spammy pitching and annoying follow-up behavior has earned you a place in an editor’s block list, your useful guest submission will never be seen.
3. Follow formatting guidelines.
We look for stories that are under 1,000 words (though stories under 800 are even better) and free of jargon.
Though we occasionally publish longer articles, tight writing and concise paragraphs will endear you to editors at any publication. You may think a mammoth story is your magnum opus, but to editors—and their publications’ readers—it’s simply verbosity. Their time can (and will) be better spent elsewhere.
Many publications that accept guest posts will have a list of formatting rules or suggestions. If you cannot find any, look at recently published articles. You can see a pattern in the content on publishers’ websites, which can help you tailor your submission to meet their styles and tones.
4. Make an editor’s work easier.
Buzzfeed has a foolproof system for community members to submit guest posts, including tools that upload GIFs to listicles or help create quizzes. However, most publications are not that straightforward.
Ragan.com editors like receiving guest posts in Microsoft Word documents. If you want an editor to look at a post published on your organization’s blog, send a short pitch along with a link.
Hopeful contributors that paste entire articles in the body of an email—or worse, lengthy off-topic pitches followed by irrelevant press releases—will not gain a busy editor’s favor.
If you’re writing about current news or trends and use social media posts, charts or pictures to illustrate your point, include these with your submission unless the publication’s guidelines say otherwise.
Include embed codes for social media posts; don’t use screenshots unless it’s a post that has been deleted (such as a brand’s Twitter misstep). Make sure you have permission to use all images, and include source information. Do not send headshots.
Many editors will edit submissions before publishing them on their websites. You may think asking to see revised copies for approval—or offering your assistance in the revision process—is helpful, but it slows the process.
5. Think twice before hitting “send”—or following up.
Make sure your story is relevant to the publication, has been proofread, includes applicable attachments and is tailored to meet submission guidelines before you send it.
It may take a while to hear back from editors. Most receive dozens—or hundreds—of emails each day, so they simply cannot and will not reply to all of them.
If your news is time-sensitive, follow up with another email, or on social media. Do not ask for read receipts, nor mark your email as important or urgent. Resist the urge to follow up excessively—or within 24 hours.
Often, a non-answer will indicate that you missed the mark. Continuing to follow up—especially with aggressive wording—will not endear you to editors.