Pitching a Story to a Magazine?

Trying to pitch a story to an editor of a magazine? Read on...

Cory Bordonaro is a Georgia-girl-gone-West, working as an Editorial Assistant for Southern Living Magazine's Travel Department in Birmingham, AL. When she's not scouring the South for stories of artisans and artists, she's working away on her own craft of letterpress printing. "Andy the Vandy," a century-old 2000 lb. printing press, currently resides in her basement. You can find her work at fourhatspress.com.

1. When scouting markets for new material, what helps a brand stand apart from the next?

The National Stationary Show (late May) was my first market experience. I was drawn to the Southern artists, and was immediately looking for people who looked like they were ready for exposure—people with hi-res images, catalogs, etc.

2. Can one to two paragraphs and a good picture really be enough to interest an editor/blogger?

 I do think succinct is the way to go. Editors get oodles of emails each day, so to be able to make a snappy and interesting pitch is key. Contact information should be prominent, so that if an editor is interested, she knows just who to follow up with for additional information.

3. What’s missing when a pitch is almost there, but not quite?

Because most magazines are bent on covering what’s new and fresh, the ‘why should I care NOW’ component is vital. A good pitch can turn into a great pitch if editors can quickly uncover why it’s important to care about the particular thing, person, place, right now (or even better, tomorrow).

4. Biggest turnoff when someone is trying to get press?

One of the most glaringly obvious mistakes people make when pitching is failing to show their understanding of the content and readership of the outlet they are pitching. If I hear someone say, “I’ve been reading your Handmade column, and see that you like to feature up-and-coming local Southern artisans,” I’d be much more willing to hear them out. Demonstrate that you’re well versed in the magazine, and you’ve automatically won some time and attention.

5. What’s the wackiest thing someone has done to get your attention? Did it work?

Rather than explaining the pitch in writing, I once had a company send a personalized video link by email. I (somewhat hesitantly) clicked on it to quickly realize that the creator had taken the time to read some of my writing, and tailor his request to me specifically. It definitely got my attention—very creative and thorough.

6. What’s the easiest way to an editor’s heart?

 Someone who merits attention—whose work or story is compelling. And, call me crazy, but I still like hand-written letters.

7. The one thing you want to find in every pitch?

Pictures! Or tangible product. If it’s new handcrafted nut butters, I want to taste it.


*Our Biz Advice Column is compiled & edited by the fabulous Amy Flurry. You can follow her @recipeforpress.