Having your product featured in a magazine, newspaper or online publication is huge. It allows you to reach a larger audience, it can boost web traffic, increase sales and in many cases, helps to build trust between you and your target audience.
We caught up with Portland Monthly Style Editor Eden Dawn and asked her to share her best advice, do's and don'ts for pitching the media and getting press features.
LAPTOPS & SMALLTALK: HOW DID YOU BEGIN YOUR CAREER IN THE PORTLAND FASHION INDUSTRY?
EDEN: I began by attending fashion shows in the early 2000's. I know that sounds simple, but it's true. Portland is such a small city that by regularly attending events I met producers and people in town and soon I was writing blogs and social media for some of the shows, then I ended up sitting next to and befriending Marjorie Skinner who was the fashion columnist for the Mercury at the time and when she needed another blogger there, I was on her radar. So much of my career has been about just showing up and being friendly.
L&S: HOW DID YOUR CAREER AS THE STYLE EDITOR AT PORTLAND MONTHLY BEGIN?
EDEN: In 2010 I got an email from then editor-in-chief Randy Gragg, whom I'd never met, and he asked me to meet him for a coffee. The magazine was bringing on a Style Editor for the first time in a while after losing theirs during the Great Recession and they needed someone to start a blog, handle the print coverage, style the fashion features–it was a lot. And since they had been out of the fashion game for a bit I had to go out and form relationships with all the indie designers in town because it just didn't exist. It was a lot of work initially to jump in and try and found a department, but now, six and a half years later, it's still just as time-consuming, but I know my beat like the back of my hand. And knowing your market makes any industry easier.
L&S: WHAT'S THE BEST WAY FOR DESIGNERS/BRANDS TO CONTACT YOU ABOUT A PITCH IDEA?
EDEN: The best way is to send me a thoughtful, personal email (don't call me Dear Editor) that shows you know your stuff. Before you ever pitch to a publication, read a couple of issues and see what they cover. I never put fur in the magazine, so if someone emails me that they have the PERFECT story for me and it's all fur from a New York designer, they get two strikes against them. One for not understanding a regional mag covers local, two is for not understanding their coverage. I get press releases for designers in Indiana, for toys, for cars, for just a billion things where it's clear the brand has done no research and really it wastes both our time. If you have something that you think is a solid pitch email me why you think it's a good fit, what makes it interesting now, and a photo is always nice for anything product related so we can see what you're talking about as we read about it. In many ways think of it as a party invite. If you're trying to get someone to come to your party, tell them what makes it cool, when the party is, where it is, how to learn more. All of that applies to editors.
As far as what not to do. Do not just invite a writer to a Facebook event in lieu of a press release. I get invited to countless events and am rarely on Facebook, and that¹s my personal space, not work-space. There's been a huge uptick in this lately and people are so over stimulated with social media it makes them the easiest thing in the world to ignore. I do think they have validity when someone needs to check the time or address of an event, but this should be the backup, not the main thing.
L&S: WHAT INSPIRES YOUR STORY/ARTICLE IDEAS?
EDEN: Ideally, I'm looking for things that are new or notable. Meaning new shops, collections, lookbooks, etc. Or something that is really special. Are you a designer that was taught to sew by Anna Wintour? That would be notable! Are you making the first collection entirely from a new super fabric that changes color in the sun? That would new! Things that get people talking. I often get pitches that say hey we have a nice shop with nice things, which is wonderful and I try to keep them on my radar for product roundups or styling opportunities, but as a whole readers want something that either services them in some way (where to get the best sunglasses), or is juicy (who's dressing a celeb for the Oscars). If it's something you'd want to tell at a party, that's a good self-test if it could be a good story pitch. I keep my eyes and ears open constantly and am always at events and parties, asking questions, meeting new people. You have to be out in the world to maintain a beat, it's impossible otherwise. Additionally, I'm lucky to often be pitched great stories which makes me very grateful.
L&S: HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO YOU WORK?
EDEN: For print issues we're about 3 months ahead when I'm picking the story and planning. So I plan my holiday gift guide in September in between trips to the river. It's a weird world. I'm picking clothing for my fashion features around that same time too which is always late July/August for fall fashion and late January/February for spring fashion. Blog pieces I typically need 2-3 weeks in advance. Our newsletter is bimonthly so it's nice to plan around that for digital content.
L&S: WHAT SHOULD BE INCLUDED WHEN DESIGNERS/BRANDS SEND PITCH IDEAS TO YOU?
EDEN: What makes their story notable, who is involved, where if it is an event, pictures, links to product or designers, and contact info. I often will open an email and then go hunting if it seems interesting, reading through the sites, looking at Instagram, and so on. The more there is for me to have access to, the better. Some marketers try and keep it vague in an effort to lure you in, and honestly this doesn't work because our time is too short to take chances. I had one guy email repeatedly with just the line, I have the story of a lifetime for you and then every time I pressed for more info he wouldn't give me any without agreeing to cover it. We passed.
L&S: WHAT SHOULD DESIGNERS DO IF YOU DON'T USE THEIR STORY? PITCH IT AGAIN AT A LATER TIME? TWEAK THE STORY?
EDEN: 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. And then for digital I am a one-woman department with many editorial duties, so beyond the 2 blogs a week I typically do, it all just comes down to if there is time to handle additional content. If it’s a really special idea, I would pitch it again. If it’s something like an event or new collection, I would only pitch if there is new additional information (new editorial photos, letting me know the event sold out in record time so you’ll be doing it again, things like that).
L&S: HOW SOON/OFTEN SHOULD SOMEONE FOLLOW UP WITH YOU AFTER SENDING AN INITAL PITCH?
EDEN: A week. Do not follow up with an editor the next day. They feel pestered.
L&S: WHAT DO YOU WISH MORE DESIGNERS/BRANDS KNEW ABOUT PITCHING THE MEDIA AND PITCHING STORIES TO YOU?
EDEN: 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.