So you have a great idea for a story. You know it’s timely and relevant and will garner a lot of web traffic. You’re so confident in this that you’ve gone ahead and written the article already. But what do you do with said article?
Selling a story you’ve already written to a media outlet is one of the hardest things freelance writers do – especially in fashion. Fashion PR is a tough industry to step into and it’s hard to get past the gatekeeper. However, it’s not impossible. Read on for a framework that will help your chances when selling your story to fashion media outlets:
Do your basic research
This should go without saying, but know the audience and scope of the media outlet you’re pitching to. For instance, if you want to write a think piece on the impact of Christopher Bailey stepping into the role of President at Burberry, you probably shouldn’t be pitching a site where most of its audience cares more about a “Who Wore It Better” poll. Read through the outlet you’d like to pitch, get a good idea of what typical content is and what the average reader looks like.
Reach out to the correct stakeholder
This is where LinkedIn snooping comes in handy. If it’s a smaller outlet, you can find who currently works there by searching the company on LinkedIn and then scrolling through the employees – generally the Managing Editor or Fashion Editor will be the best person to reach out to (depending on what your story is about). If it’s a larger media outlet, they should have their masthead listed on an ‘About’ page somewhere with emails on a ‘Contact’ page. And sometimes it gets even easier – they’ll have a page that gives you instructions on how to submit a pitch.
Personalize your reach out
If you’re pitching to a large outlet, it’s very likely they receive hundreds of pitches a day. What makes your story different (you should have determined this already when writing)? What makes your email worth reading? In my experience, it helps when writing your emails to take the time and personalize. The person on the receiving end of this email isn’t a robot – it’s a real human being who probably gets tired of reading the same few lines over and over again. Whether it’s a personalized greeting or asking about something else in particular, everyone appreciates genuine interest in what their company is doing.
Keep it short
Keep your pitch short. Remember, if the outlet accepts your article, they’ll be promoting it on social channels, which means that they’re already limited to the number of characters they can use. What is the shortest way to grab the reader’s attention? If you can’t think of something, you might want to go back to the drawing board and think of a new article, as this is the true test to see if your article is attention grabbing or not. A good exercise here is to come up with social taglines for the article – this will help you pitch the article itself in a few short sentences.
Tell them why your story matters
Is this article relevant because it’s centered around the holidays and it’s December 20th? Is it relevant because it’s the anniversary of a fashion icon’s death or birth? Tell the person you’re emailing why the article is important – that way they’re not scratching their heads and wondering why you sent an article.
Don’t send the actual piece
Do not, I repeat, do not, send the piece along with your email. You want to give them a taste of what the article will be and see if they’d even be interested based off your pitch. You should also want to settle on a price before giving them the full story. Once your story is published by a media outlet, they’ll own that content, meaning you can no longer “shop it around.” Keep your articles close to your heart until you’ve agreed upon price.
Don’t ask for a certain amount upfront
In your email, you can ask the outlet what their rate would be for a piece like the one you’re pitching. This places you in a better position than stating your rate immediately – what if you accidentally low-balled yourself? It will take a lot longer to work your way up from that then just asking what the outlets’ rates are.
Try, and try again
There’s a strong probability you’ll hear a lot of “no” when you pitch editors in fashion PR. That’s completely normal! There are thousands of writers out there doing the exact same thing you are – it’s going to take a bit until you hit a bullseye. Don’t get discouraged, be polite, thank editors for their time (they’re very busy people) and don’t burn bridges. Keep thinking of ideas, keep in touch with different people and don’t give up. Once you’ve got a foot in the door, it gets that much easier.
Fashion PR is a scary vertical to navigate but this framework should be helpful when selling a story to a fashion media outlet. If you find yourself with lots of questions or coming across lots of roadblocks, don’t hesitate to reach out to others in the community as well. Often you can learn a lot of invaluable tips from your peers and others in the industry who are doing the same thing as you.