TuneUp Recap: How to Work an Editorial Calendar Opportunity, from Email to Follow Up


While the rest of the world may refer to it as "hump day" and see it as a happy halfway mark of their work week, all of us in the Tin Shingle family hail Wednesdays as #TuneUp days.  These are the days we gather (virtually) from coast-to-coast, with Katie and myself on camera (sometimes joined by brave business owners who choose to flip on their camera during the #TuneUps as well) to talk fluff-free about buzz building strategies that can turn from ideas into action immediately!  I also love these calls because members can ask questions, share success stories or give each other advice on challenges, all in real time, all from the comforts from their homes, desks or even phones.  Fun fact: we've even had people tune into the #TuneUps while out for a run.

This week's buzz building topic was editorial calendars.  No, we weren't simply talking about what they are, how to find them and why you should care about them. Instead, we dug deeper into the questions business owners like you often ask us including: How do I figure out who to contact once I find an editorial calendar opportunity that fits my business?  What should the email look like that I initially send to query about the editorial calendar?  Should I send my full pitch along with an "ask" regarding who is covering the story?  How close to the featue deadline should I be sending my pitch, i.e., when is it too late?

If these are questions you're wondering yourself, I encourage you to read below as some of the answers we discussed are summarized briefly below.  Do you need even more in-depth answers? Check out our recorded podcast on working with editorial calendars and join our weekly live #TuneUps to get the straight dope LIVE from Katie and yours truly, along with our awesome guest experts! 

Now let me give you a few must-know answers to get you thinking strategically about these must-have tools in your PR Tool Belt:

#1 How do I know WHO to pitch once I find an editorial calendar opportunity that fits the bill?

When you find an "ed cal" opportunity you often don't see a name attached to it.  This is because at the time of the ed cal creation they may not have known which reporter or editor they were attaching to the story (especially if it's a story running 3, 6 or even 9 months from now).  So what do you do?  I suggest that you do these three things:

1 - Grab the magazine in print (or on your iPad) and refer to the masthead (the list of editorial staff often found at the beginning of the magazine), and also refer to the sections you're pitching (beauty, home, food, etc).  Check for the following names: any assistants in your section (beauty assistant, fashion assistant, food editorial assistant, editorial assistant), basically you want to start from the bottom up, and ask this "support staff" if the story is a) still open for pitching and b) who the best person is to reach out to and share your products/services/tips with. 

2 - If you don't find anyone specific in your section's or niche's team who is a specific assistant, ask the magazine's editorial assistant if they can point you in the right direction.  These people who are in the assistant world we often refer to as "Gate Keepers" as they can give you entrance into contacting the right people who cover the stories you want to pitch, and they serve as a nice personal connection to these people so that you aren't going in "cold".

3 - If an editorial calendar gives you a specific theme for an upcoming month and you want to pitch a regular or ongoing section or series in the magazine,  simply check who at the magazine normally covers that section (again, refer to the magazine itself) and ask them if they'll be running with XYZ theme for XYZ month and if you can pitch them something for it.  Simple as pie.

#2 - What do I email them in terms of a first, initial subject line?

First things first: Don't email your entire pitch if you're not even sure you're emailing the correct person in the first place.  Don't put too much information in that initial pitch, just be sure you're reaching out to the correct person regarding a story that is still available. 

Some people think you have to trick a member of the media into opening an email or writing you back with word play or catchy titles but REALLY int his situation, if you ask them exactly what you want to know and are direct you’re more likely to get the write answer or even be told who is covering the story in the first place! 

Let's start with a simple and straightforward subject line:

Subject line: Ken: writing re: women in business story in May Issue
Subject line: Re: Denim Story for Summer
Subject Line: Confirming you cover the Lucky Breaks section for summer stories.

Want to read more about editorial calendars?  Here's a thorough article we did on them that will clear up a lot of confusion and get you inspired to start pitching them this coming week!

Until then, see you on the next #TuneUp - this coming week we're talking SEO - I know MY ears will be perked up for this one!