If there's one email I get that rarely amounts to anything, it's from potential clients looking for placement in magazines or newspapers. These clients seek to see their profiles, ideas, and launches in the glossy folds of trade publications or consumer magazines, and they approach freelance writers, hoping for that magical spin that will get them placed. But, there's a lot more to this kind of placement than clients realize. Check out my latest inquiry, followed by a set of tips that can help you (clients) get the desired magazine placement, or (freelancers) explain the process to your prospect.
Dear Allena, I saw your (website/work/article/business card), and wanted to speak with you about a potential project. We are XYZ Company, and we specialize in XYZ product/service. We feel that our story is unique, and were wondering what kind of services you could offer us for placement in magazines or newspapers.
Dear Potential Client, Thanks for your note. For businesses like yours, I am most often engaged to write copy for websites, to maintain blogs, and to produce materials like annual reports or white papers. I am open to those opportunities, and you can find more information on what I offer at my website.
As for getting your business some positive buzz by being featured in magazines or websites, that would entail the services of a writer who specializes in PR. I do offer this service, but I am careful to tell potential clients that coverage is very much up to the magazines themselves. That is, retaining my services won't guarantee placement, despite my contacts at target publications. Getting placement for my stories/pitches in those pages is a competitive job that takes many hours. Everyone wants some publicity!
There are several magazines that I could pitch your story to, and several sites like Example.com and Example.com which may fit your story/product/service. They are quite often interested in stories with unique angles and stories. However, again, placement is competitive. I have editorial contacts at several trade magazines, including Sample magazine, which often reports on your industry. Although I do have a great relationship with that editor, I would need to pitch a very well-prepared story or angle to get placement. You and I could certainly carve out some time to get that point of view down, if you're interested.
There are other options available to you. For example, many entrepreneurs and companies pitch editorial staff themselves. This is often done through press releases and then personal follow up with the editor. The editor, if interested, then assigns your story to one of her house writers or freelancers.
You may also want to actually write the story yourself, and approach the magazine from the role of a writer. This is generally done through a pitch letter, and entails an entire set of common practices and so on. The best place to learn about that is my web page and articles on getting published in magazines. An additional bonus of this choice is that the writing/re-writing/pitching process may help you to further clarify and develop the unique offering of your product or service.
If you're not comfortable writing the story yourself, but do prefer to take the byline and credit for it, then what you are seeking is called a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter will work with you to write the piece you want, but the story and byline (authorship credit) is yours, and yours alone.
Another option to get magazine placement is to be known as an expert, so that journalists and publications will call YOU. One way to do this is to get on a PR list service such as - Help a Reporter Out. You would serve as a source for these writers, perhaps netting a mention in articles.
There is a caveat to this process. Some of these options mean that you may not have much control over the story. Even if your story is placed with me as the writer, you should also realize that the magazines and websites have final say- that is, they could edit the story.
Best of luck to you, and thanks for your question!
Edited to add: the corresponding blog post to this article garnered some additional suggestions and advice from writers who know more about the PR niche than yours truly. be sure to read the blog post here: Freelance Writers and the PR Placement Question
Got your own question about writing? Email me.