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Thanks for the Pitch, But... [Commentary]

In any given month, Website Magazine receives hundreds, often thousands, of requests for coverage of business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) companies.

Representatives from technology solution and service providers, freelance content marketers, and public relations professionals from all over the world make their “pitch” in the hope of gaining a little more digital ink for the brands they represent.

They want to raise awareness for their clients, establish themselves as authorities in their industry and earn placement (and citations) from what is, without question, one of the longest-running and most respected publications on Web business and digital technology

The reality of course is that of the hundreds or thousands of submissions that are received only a virtual handful make the grade, and even fewer still meet the standard required to make it into the print edition of the publication every month.

If it were possible (or beneficial) to open the publication up to each and every submission (press release or contributed article), there’s no question we would; we know firsthand the challenges companies and brands like yours face in generating awareness, establishing authority, and yes, earning citations.

Serving as the gatekeeper for the magazine, however, offers up an opportunity to ensure the highest quality possible and deliver a product that has been sought out and sought after by some of the most well-known tech providers across the globe and innovative upstarts looking to make a name with their target audience.

Website Magazine wants you to be successful (there’s a reason our tagline is “The Magazine for Website Success,” so in honor of that we’d like to share some practical guidance that can be used to increase the likelihood that you will stand out in the crowded inbox of this publication or any publication – print or otherwise – if you’re looking for publicity (or even just links).

Publications can receive thousands of requests for coverage in any given month, but it is likely that a majority just don’t make sense for the publication’s audience. You should be able to tell, for example, that Website Magazine is likely more interested in topics related to, you guessed it, websites. That means we are unlikely to spend time writing up in-depth articles on politics, art, fashion or finance (unless there is a very clear and useful connection that would benefit readers – which there rarely is).

Knowing who it is you are pitching reduces the time (and resources) you spend generating attention and coverage – for you and the publication. Take time to subscribe to the publication (its RSS feed or email newsletter for example), understand who specifically is likely to cover your product or service (e.g. their “beat”), and make a human connection before engaging in a cold, impersonal pitch. I speak from experience when I say that a pitch is way more effective when it is addressed to me personally, shows some familiarity with me or the work I’ve done, and can provide some direct benefit to the publication (we’ve put together some examples at wsm.co/pitchart) than one that doesn’t meet that standard.

Also know that you have options. For example, some publications auto-delete press releases from their inbox, but are open to working with companies willing to contribute bylines, participate in interviews or publish infographics or interactive experiences. Just because your press release didn’t catch the attention of the publication, does not mean that a different approach won’t be effective. It might even be more effective so remain flexible and get creative with your pitch (and content).

Perhaps the most important guidance however is to be patient and realistic. If the pitch is relevant and provides some value to the readership, the likelihood that your brand receives attention/coverage in the future is dramatically increased. Realize, however, that it won’t be on your schedule. There’s just not enough time in the day or resources to give everyone the coverage they deserve. With a personal touch, some creativity and patience however, you will shorten the waiting time earn the coverage you or your company undoubtedly deserves.
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