Nothing helps catapult your natural products business into the public eye more than being featured in a national magazine. While many new entrepreneurs think the eco products in magazines are all provided by large companies, the big secret is that many come from entrepreneurs just like you. The key difference is that they know how to get on the radar of magazine writers and editors.
As a natural products entrepreneur, it can seem overwhelming to try to get your product featured in magazines. It may even seem that editors have to find you, but it often works the other way around—you have to find them and pitch them your story.
What the media really want is stories
Whether you sell organic yogurt, green cars, natural baby toys or bamboo blankets, the media is mostly interested in one thing—your story—and specifically how your story fits into their readers’ lifestyles. This is true of publications that cover the natural products industry, but also of magazines that publish special sections about eco-friendly gifts for the holidays or green products for Earth Day.
How to up your game
If you simply think in terms of press releases, you probably won’t be able to compete with the sheer number of other small business vying for the media’s attention. The old model of writing a press release and using a wire to distribute it is no longer as effective as it once used to be.
Think about your natural products brand and browse some of the magazines that you’d like your products to be featured in. Think outside the natural products industry magazines like Natural Foods Merchandiser or Organic Gardening—almost every consumer or trade magazine now has a section on natural and organic products, especially for their April issue (to celebrate Earth Day) and for their November/December issue (typically their annual holiday gift guide issue).
Your natural products can definitely fit into the Earth Day–type stories and eco-friendly gifts stories, but what other kind of stories would they fit into? Your products might make a great eco-friendly back-to-school product for kids or an effective natural remedy for the flu season.
How to get the attention your natural products deserve
Your first step is to make a list of media you want to see feature your products this year. Think about the blogs, magazines and TV shows you love and write them down. Also, spend some extra time looking for trade publications in the natural products industry. While these magazines have lower circulation rates, they often land directly in the hands of a very important target market: natural product retailers.
Next, browse each publication’s website or back issues to learn if they’re a good fit for your products. Look at the types of stories each publication runs and the products it features to decide if it’s a good fit for you.
Many magazines publish their editorial calendars on their websites for advertisers, but anyone can download them. Editorial calendars are a wealth of information as they often describe the ideal reader, themes for each issue and publishing deadlines. You can also find them plugging the search term “‘publication title’ + editorial calendar” into Google.
Gather contact information for each publication you want to reach and the editor working on the section of the magazine where you want to be featured. This information is often listed in the magazine’s masthead (the list of employees at the front of the issue) or on the publication’s website (try the “About Us” and “Contact Us” sections). When in doubt, simply call the magazine and ask.
Write a story pitch for each publication, keeping in mind what you learned from the back issues. The more targeted and personalized your pitch is to the publication’s needs, the more likely you are to receive coverage.
Following up is key
While your research and pitch are important steps to getting coverage, this following up may be the most important. So many entrepreneurs assume that if they don’t hear back from the media immediately it means no one is interested. This simply isn’t the case.
One of the most important lessons you can learn as an entrepreneur is that following up is crucial to any business contact you want to make, whether you’re contacting a magazine or a potential wholesale customer.
About a week after you send your initial pitch, send a quick follow up email. If you still don’t get a response when you follow up, that doesn’t mean that the editor is not interested in your products. It can mean that they are not interested right now or, many times, they can pass on your info to an editor who is working on a story that might be a better fit.
It makes sense to reach out to them again a few months later, but this time with a different story idea and pitch. Persistence is essential!
A few things to remember
When pitching to journalists and editors, keep in mind that they are busy people, just like you. They also like to be recognized for their work, so if you read a recent article of theirs or loved one of the eco-products they wrote about in a previous issue, mention that when you reach out to them. [Editor’s note: It’s true—we’re very vain.] The more you can personalize your pitch to them, the more likely you will be to hear back!
If you don’t hear back, don’t take it personally. Move on and contact them at a later date with a new story idea or contact a different editor or journalist at the same publication. Some publications have a Special Sections editor, and this is often the editor who is working on finding products for the magazine’s special issues, like the Earth Day or Holiday Gift Guide issues.
With some elbow grease, research and determination, you can experience the thrill of seeing your natural products in one of your favorite magazines.