Know the nuances of pitching online versus print outlets

When you seek coverage for your organization or, especially, for a product launch, these subtleties can make or break your scoring placement in front of your coveted target audience.

Here’s the long and the short of it.

Whether you’re looking to score a coveted placement in InStyle or a featured product in a Refinery29 slideshow, keep in mind that long-lead (print) media and short-lead (digital) media have different requirements when it comes to putting together a story.

Though some will vary from outlet to outlet, here are general guidelines to ensure you have the right tools for every channel to improve your chances of a successful media hit.

Product samples

  • Print/long-lead media needs. Although some long-lead print magazines are cutting budgets and shooting less in house, be prepared for them to ask for product samples to photograph. You’ll need at least one extra set of the collection on hand—more for popular items—and you must be prepared to overnight products to the editor on a moment’s notice.
  • Digital/short-lead media needs. Most outlets with a shorter lead time (including websites, weekly magazines, newspapers) are so busy meeting constant deadlines that they rarely shoot their own product photos. Have high-res imagery shot flat on a white background (no lifestyle shots or on-model shots). These images can be easily added to a layout or slideshow and will work seamlessly with other products on the page.

Brand/company materials

  • Print/long-lead media needs. Although many print media outlets have shrunk their news holes, many still publish features on great company founders. Have high-resolution headshots of the company founder on hand for any interviews/features in a print magazine. Get a variety of angles and facial expressions—some smiling and some more serious—to suit an array of editorial needs.
  • Digital/short-lead media needs. Shorter-lead outlets (more so online sites) have fewer publication restrictions, so digital editors are open to content and story ideas that go beyond the product itself. Client videos, lifestyle images and other interactive media are worth having—and pitching. Though not all online media outlets can use outside content, many websites love sharing cool content that a company has created.

Pitch timing

  • Print/long-lead media needs. All media want the hottest and newest items, so keep a monthly print magazine’s longer lead time in mind when pitching a new product or company launch. If you have a new makeup kit coming out in October, pitch it in June or July to coincide with the stories editors are working on for the October issue. Don’t wait until the day or even month before launch.
  • Digital/short-lead media needs. If you have an event to launch a product or line, don’t invite short-lead outlets unless you are OK with seeing the information disseminated before the launch. With that same October product launch, wait until September before pitching to shorter-lead outlets. If you pitch it early, they might spill the beans too soon or could even forget about the product by launch time.

Long- and short-lead media outlets generally want the same things: beautiful products and companies with a compelling story. Still, there are nuances to pitching a print editor versus an online editor, and having a distinct plan for each type of outreach will help generate a consistent stream of coverage.

A version of this post first appeared on PR Couture. Lindsey Smolan is the principal at Lindsey Smolan Public Relations.

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