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  • Writer's pictureKristin Dispenza

An editor’s perspective: Content creation and publishing

Public relations is an ever-evolving industry. Having started in 2001 as a public relations firm, our roots in PR are extensive. AOE works hard to stay ahead of changes and to develop relationships with editors that lead to high quality content published in respected industry publications.

To enhance its public relations efforts, AOE recently hired Jessica Porter, who worked as an editor of a construction trade publication’s print and digital outlets for more than a decade and has been a construction-related freelance writer and editor since 2015.

We sat down with Jessica to hear her perspective on how public relations (PR) compares to working in media, and how to construct a PR campaign that appeals to editors, establishes relationships with those editors and results in a higher return on investment (ROI) on client content.

How can a PR team establish a great relationship with an editor?

Editors typically have a relatively small pool of PR teams they give the most attention to, because they know those teams will contribute well-written content that is consistently submitted on time and matches the pitch and the publication’s editorial guidelines. Good PR teams understand how to communicate clearly and concisely with editors and deliver dependable content.

What kind of content do editors need?

There are a lot of publications looking for filler content, especially for online space. Likely, these publications have a small readership and low brand recognition. PR teams may be able to place many articles in these kinds of publications, but it’s unlikely they will see a high ROI.

PR teams can place content in respected publications with a large readership and high brand recognition by sending editors timely and educational articles that are well written, researched and on topics that have not been written about many times already. Effective PR teams know the difference between mediocre filler content and informative articles that provide value to the publication and their clients.

Additionally, effective PR teams do not offer editors only an interview or quote about a certain topic. It’s great to provide those resources, but the best PR teams offer a great article idea or two as well. Editors likely planned their interviews for feature articles far in advance; unless a client is a perfect fit for the article, it’s unlikely they will be interviewed. What editors need are great articles written by industry experts and delivered by reliable PR teams.

Why should PR teams send editors abstracts instead of articles?

Unless PR teams are aiming for high placement in low ROI publications, pre-written articles typically are not effective. Reputable publications often require exclusivity, which PR teams will not be able to guarantee if they’ve submitted the same article to dozens of media outlets.

Instead, good PR teams work with editors to develop great articles tailored to specific publications. An effective way to do this is to start with an article abstract, which allows the editor to understand the proposed article topic and why the topic matters to their readers, as well as to get to know the company that will deliver content.

How can PR teams develop article ideas that stand out?

Editors work off an established editorial calendar. Often, many of these topics repeat yearly because they’re important, like safety, training, diversity and labor-related issues. Editors know the kind of content they need for each issue, but they’re looking for unique angles for each topic.

PR teams are challenged to find new angles for those topics, without being too niche, to get an editor’s attention. The best PR teams create article ideas that will appeal to the publication’s readership in addition to serving their clients’ best interests.

When a disaster happens, or major legislation is announced, editors receive tons of the same pitches. The key is to find either the best company to write the article, or a pitch with a unique angle that would stand out among the many similar articles that are sure to run in all industry publications. Great PR teams are able to build relationships with editors to meet those needs.

How much client promotion is too much?

Publications offer editorial and advertising opportunities. Great PR teams don’t send articles that are glorified press releases. It’s fine to sneak in a promotional paragraph or quote to see if it will get past the editor, but promotional content is not considered editorial.

Readers want informative content they can count on as resources. Promotional materials are for paid advertisements. The editor will know the difference, and submitting promotional material disguised as editorial will not reflect well on the PR team. By developing good relationships with editors, PR teams can ask for clarification if they’re unsure how much promotion is too much.

What if only digital publishing opportunities are available?

Good PR teams don’t exclusively aim for print publication. It’s great to see an article in print, of course, but there are likely many more opportunities with fewer stringent requirements for digital placement—and the publication’s brand is still associated with that coverage.

If PR teams are uncertain about the benefits of digital publication, they should ask for reader statistics to confirm whether it’s worth the client’s effort to contribute content. Even if there are relatively low reader stats, it may still be worth submitting content based on the publication’s brand. Clients can position themselves as industry thought leaders with articles in respected digital or print publications.

How is working in PR similar to working in media?

PR and editorial are similar because they both need to keep a target audience in mind. For the PR representative, it’s the client and the audience the client wants to reach. For the editor, it’s the publication’s readership.

For editors of trade publications specifically, it’s also similar because they need to keep in mind the publishing association. Editors of trade publications typically are tasked with highlighting work/trends showcased by association membership. Finding those diverse members to represent the industry is the challenge. That’s not to say the results are limited or biased, because the companies I worked for had diverse members that were able to represent the industry. I imagine this is quite different from working for a news publication or magazine with no association affiliation.

How is working in PR different from working in media?

Editors need to keep in mind the publication’s readership and style. It’s more complex for PR teams. They need to keep in mind client messaging, and balance that messaging with the publication’s requirements, which are influenced by its readership and publication style.

Sourcing information is easier for PR teams, because they create articles highlighting work or expertise from their clients. Being a freelance writer for varied publications requires industry-wide research and interviews.

Experienced PR teams like AOE understand how to work with media to achieve a strong ROI on client content—as well as position clients as thought leaders. From story development and sending the initial pitch to writing, formatting and submitting a great article, the AOE team’s strong relationships with editors in various industries results in well-written and educational articles placed in many industry-recognized publications.

Let AOE’s expertise and relationships with industry editors help your PR efforts. Contact us today.


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