From building trust between you and your target customer to increasing brand awareness, boosting website traffic and sales, publicity is one of the best ways to grow your brand as an emerging fashion designer. As a small business however you may not have the budget to hire a public relations agency or to hire someone to specifically handle your PR for you. Luckily, we've got you covered!
So how do you pitch the media with no connections and no PR experience? Here are 15 do’s and don’ts to building relationships with fashion editors and landing press mentions outside of your local media.
DO PITCH THE CORRECT PERSON.
Always do your homework and make sure you are pitching the right person. Not all editors & journalists cover the same things. Even if a magazine has two accessories editors for instance, one may cover handbags and the other may cover jewelry. Likewise, editorial assistants generally manage the administrative tasks and aren't typically the right person to pitch. Don't pitch a random person that works at the magazine assuming that they'll forward your email to the correct person. Some will, but others will just delete it and there goes your opportunity.
DO USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO FIND CONTACT INFORMATION.
A good number of today's writers are freelance, which means they don’t actually work for the publication you may be interested in. Many freelancers put their email address in their social media profiles. Instagram and Twitter are awesome resources for finding contact information.
DO TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN A BIT ABOUT WHO YOU'RE PITCHING.
Familiarize yourself with what they normally cover, their writing style, past articles, accomplishments, etc. It's always good to know a bit about the person you’re pitching. This helps create a connection when you're introducing yourself and shows that you've put in some effort. It also shows that you've taken the time to learn a bit about them rather than just sending an email cold. Yes, these editors and journalists hold the key to what could be a big break through for your business, but they are also human. Show that you're not just using them for what they can do for you, but that you've actually taken the time to learn a bit about them. Again, Instagram and Twitter are great places for this.
DON'T SEND YOUR PITCH IN A DM (AKA A DIRECT MESSAGE) .
Although using social media is helpful for finding contact information and learning more about the editor/journalist you want to connect with, I don’t recommend contacting them via social media if you don’t already have a relationship with them. Show that you’re serious and professional by sending a proper email. Not to mention, if their DM’s are public they probably receive a ton of messages a day which means there's no guarantee that they’ll even see it.
DON'T IGNORE YOUR LOCAL MEDIA.
As cool as it is to be featured in Vogue, don’t ignore pitching your local media for press. Smaller publications tend to have a smaller staff and are typically more accessible. Pitching local gives you the opportunity to practice your pitching skills and to potentially even receive feedback. Not to mention, when you do pitch larger publications it’s better to have a few local press features to share in your media kit than nothing at all.
DO KEEP IT PROFESSIONAL.
Don’t be overly familiar and call editors that you haven’t met pet names like 'hun' or 'doll.' Avoid overly using emojis and smiley faces. Keep it 'profesh' - ha.
DO KNOW THE CURRENT TITLE AND NAME OF THE PERSON YOU'RE PITCHING.
People working in the media tend to move around a lot. Make sure the person you're pitching is still with the publication. And, make sure to spell their name CORRECTLY! Do not send an email addressed ‘to whom this may concern.’
DO PITCH ACCORDING TO THE MAGAZINE'S EDITORIAL CALENDAR.
Pitching a printed publication versus a digital publication is very different. Printed media outlets work further in advance. Digital publications and platforms have a shorter-lead time and often publish more frequently. The magazine’s editorial calendar shows you what themes they will be covering in each issue for the year. This is useful information for you because it allows you to tailor your pitch to fit what the publication is currently working on AND their deadlines. For example, if you’ve just launched a new line of swimwear in July but national publications are working on their winter issues...instead of pitching them something about ‘cute summer beach attire,’ you can pitch them ‘the perfect swimsuit for your winter getaway,’ or something along those lines that ties your product to what they are currently working on. You can find most magazine Editorial Calendars on their website under their media kit. If not, don't be afraid to send them an email requesting it.
DO MAKE YOUR PITCH INTERESTING & TELL A STORY.
Pitch the story you want to see published. Ask yourself, if I saw this in a magazine would I stop and read it?
"Pitch a story that you would be excited to read. Do you want to read a story about a 10% off sale? It’s valid, but not the most exciting thing. I want things that are exciting, stories where things were hard or nearly fell apart, or where people came together and community triumphed. This is a hard world to compete for attention, so make your pitch something that you would want to tell at a dinner party or to friends. If it feels exciting to relay, that’s often the best pitch. If it gets you excited to tell it, I’ll be excited to tell it for you." Portland Monthly Magazine Style Editor, Eden Dawn
DON'T WRITE A NOVEL.
Keep your email short, clear and concise. Avoid adding every single detail about your product in your pitch. Only give them the information they need to know.
DO ADD PHOTOS.
Adding images to your pitch is a great way to help the recipient get a visual idea of what you’re talking about. PRO TIP: Large file sizes are often blocked by editors' email servers which means your email won’t even make it to the inbox.
DON'T SEND PICTURES AS ATTACHMENTS.
Instead, put them in the body of the text. Keep in mind that editors are BUSY and might not always take the time to download your attachments. The quicker they can get a sense of what you want, the better.
DON'T FLAG YOUR EMAIL AS HIGH PRIORITY.
This is a bit entitled. A priority for you is not necessarily a priority for them. Don’t assume.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT YOUR SUBJECT LINE.
It's important to include the right information in your pitch and to pitch the right person but if you don’t have an interesting subject line you run the risk of your email never even being opened.
“Remember that there are hundreds of people pitching me as well… make yourself stand out.” GRAY Magazine Senior Editor, Rachel Gallaher
DO HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE THAT MATCHES YOUR BRAND.
Your online presence should look just as good as the product you're selling. Editors/journalists will look. Especially if you're pitching a national fashion publication.
DON'T CONTINUE EMAILING AFTER TWO FOLLOW-UP EMAILS & NO RESPONSE.
Unfortunately, you may not always get a response when editors chose not to run your story or feature your brand. If you don’t hear back after following up twice, move on to the next pitch.
"There are so many reasons we don't cover something. The answer most often is we don't have the space or time. We only print 12 issues a year and 3 of those are dedicated to fashion or holiday features, so that leaves 9 stories PER YEAR I can put someone in print. The odds are just difficult." Eden Dawn.
DON'T GIVE UP.
There are many reasons why editors choose not to go with a pitch idea. If you don’t get a yes the first time around, don’t sweat it. Just because they said no to one pitch doesn’t mean they’ll say no to the next one.
MORE ON PITCHING THE MEDIA//