When it comes to long leads, there are two main types you’re likely to come across: trade and consumer. The type you’ll be pitching often depends on the client; if you have a B2B client, trade is often a good bet. Those clients who are primarily B2C will likely prefer consumer magazines. Ultimately, it depends on where your clients’ audience or customers are, and what they are reading. Once you’ve established which outlets you’ll be pitching, it’s time to figure out your outreach plan.

There are multiple ways to get in a long lead outlet, but the tried and true editorial calendar is always a great place to start. Pull the calendar from their website, or call the advertising department and ask for a copy. Take a look at the due dates for copy, and the topics that are relevant to your pitch. After that it’s nothing more than contacting the appropriate editor…and waiting.

If you do get a response or a request for an interview, congratulations! But be sure to prepare yourself for a bit more waiting. An editor may agree to use a pitch as a source in an upcoming article before assigning the story to a reporter. It could be another month or two (or three depending on the outlet) before your client will actually get a request for an interview. Be patient! It’s all worth it in the end.

It’s definitely a best practice to pitch a relevant and timely item based on an outlet’s editorial calendar, but that may not always be possible. When it comes to project timelines, changing editorial needs and life in general, you’ll often find yourself behind the calendar. Luckily, there are other ways to land long lead coverage.

  • Think about seasonal trends: Since you have time to plan, think about the seasons and any pitch opportunities they might present. Look at topics the outlet covered during the same season in the previous year and think of new angles you could provide. For example, we’ve found year-in-review or industry trends to watch out for in the coming year have been successful pitches this time of year.
  • Push for online coverage: Many long leads have an online presence, which can be a great place to land coverage when you have to send out a pitch after the print issue has closed. Look for the online editors and scope out the type of content they usually include. Make sure to specify in your pitch that you are hoping for online coverage. Online content is also key in long lead pitching when you have a large announcement that editors may not have been expecting. They may want to cover it in their print edition, but they will also want to share the timely news with their readers on a more immediate platform.
  • Don’t forget about the freelancers: Industry influencers often freelance for trade or consumer publications. These contacts are invaluable since they may write for many of your target publications on a wide range of topics. You can often find these people just by looking up the authors in the most recent issue of your target outlet, then taking a look at their website or Twitter feed.  Freelancers listed in Vocus can be harder to track down, but they usually have up-to-date contact information on their personal website, especially since they need to be contacted for business inquiries. Their personal websites are often available in a link in their Twitter profile. For example, when pitching lifestyle magazines, don’t forget about the fitness influencers, trainers and health experts who are frequent contributors to those outlets.
  • The e-Newsletter is your friend: If you’re smart, you’ve already signed up for the daily or weekly newsletters published by your target outlets in order to get a better idea of the content they publish. Why not try to get in one of these newsletters? Many have a quick turn around and feature original content. Just remember that the editor is often different from that of the print edition, so research carefully and pitch accordingly.  

Whether you’re pitching six months or six weeks in advance, none of this advice will work if you don’t do your homework and research your target outlet as well as the appropriate editors and reporters. One of the best ways to find out more about the outlet and the editors that write for it is through social media, especially Twitter. When issues come out so far in advance it can be hard to understand what is on their minds at the time of your pitch, and social media can help you figure that out. Not only that, but it can also help you develop relationship with those writers, and establish yourself as someone who cares about the publication, not just your pitch.

What are your favorite ways to target long leads? What do you think people often overlook? Let us know in the comments!