It’s mid-year. Time to analyze what’s working and what isn’t. It’s also time to start thinking about what you’ll do differently next year, because by the time you are juggling budgets and plans in September and October, it will likely be too late to add anything new.
One basic PR tool you should consider using next year (if you’re not already) is the custom editorial calendar. In its simplest form, this is just a big table or spreadsheet that has all your industry magazines going down the first column, and the months of the year running across the top row.
You or your agency will have to obtain and then review the editorial calendars of every trade publication that matters to your business. Depending on your products, their applications, and the industries you serve, that could be anywhere from 20 to 100 magazines. (Our proprietary Media Knowledge Base has contact and other data for almost 700 trade publications from North America and around the world.)
Magazine by magazine, month by month, you will look for any editorial focus that applies to your products, and then note that focus on your custom, combined editorial calendar. When you are done, you have a basic roadmap to the new year, at least as it applies to the trade press.
Your custom calendar can help you plan articles and job stories in plenty of time to get your pitch accepted. And it can assure you that you won’t miss any product-roundup type of section that applies to your products. I know this seems like a fairly dull type of PR, but what does it say if a magazine runs a roundup of all the companies in your product category, but excludes you because they had no information from you? To a reader, interested in this type of product, you will not even exist!
If you are thinking that you can depend on the magazines to remind you of upcoming features, just ask yourself, “Whose responsibility is it to make sure my company gets noticed? Mine, or the editors?” Remember, you are not the editors’ priority; their readers are.
It is true that some publications are very good about sending reminders to advertisers, and even some non-advertising contributors. But most are not. They usually have more content than they can use in each issue, so making sure that every single possible manufacturer gets a shout-out is just not on their to-do list. And if you do not already have a very active PR program, the odds are even worse that they will remember you. Sure, if you are an advertiser, your salesperson may help out with reminders, but again—some do, some don’t. Plus, you should not limit yourself to just the publications in which you advertise. The best magazines will run appropriate content whether you advertise or not.
Add to all that the fact that you—and your agency if you have one—are the experts on your products’ market applications. I have one client whose product is, by its very nature, a multi-use platform. It truly applies to dozens of applications and many vertical markets. Some magazines will send a reminder to my client when they are running a focus on the platform, but they certainly won’t think to remind them every time an application of that platform is featured! It is my job to figure that out and communicate with the editors.
I know that some of you are staffed well enough that you are already using a custom editorial calendar as a central and basic part of your PR program. But to those of you who are not yet using this tool, I strongly encourage you to make it a priority for your next annual plan. If you don’t have the staff, time or media database to do it in-house, let me know. We create these custom editorial calendars and then manage them throughout the year, staying on top of all the opportunities they reveal, for many clients already, and we’d love to add you to the family of companies we work with.
As always, if you have any questions or would just like to know more, please call me at 507-945-1005 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation consultation.
Matt Fueston is an Account Manager for Ellenbecker Communications, is responsible for new business development, and contributes as a staff writer. He believes in the intersection between Sales and Marketing.