Press write-ups can be a small business’s best friend. A co-sign from a reputable publication brings your product or service to new audiences. 2020 Tory Burch Fellow Katherine Sprung, founder of Squish Marshmallows, has gotten her colorful confections written up in Refinery29, GoodHousekeeping.com, Insider, Cosmopolitan.com and other popular outlets. She answered questions from our community on Instagram about the best ways for entrepreneurs to approach editors, and whether it’s better to target print or digital (hint: do both!).
Q: How do you get started pitching publications?
A: You have to start by identifying what it is you’re looking for, in terms of press. If you have a new company you’re launching, or a new product, that’s a great place to start! Next, you need to identify the target market for this story, and the publication that fits that audience–it has to be relevant and interesting to them. Does your product solve a problem? Is it something seasonal and that season is coming up? For instance, if you’re at the beach, it’s 90 degrees and someone comes up to you and says, “Oh my god, let me tell you about this amazing heat-retaining technology I’m using for this beautiful new apparel line”, you’d probably look at them like they were nuts! But if someone came over and said, ‘I’m launching this new all-natural t-shirt company with cooling properties’, then they’d likely have your attention!
You need to identify the target market for this story, and the publication that fits that audience.
Q: How do you craft your pitches and showcase your value to editors?
A: Very succinctly! Most editors, writers and producers don’t have a lot of time and get loads of pitches, so short, sweet, and to the point is the name of the game. You also have to bring something to the table. Just saying, “here I am!” isn’t enough.
Q: What sort of email subject lines proved to be the most effective when contacting editors?
A: It truly depends, since there are so many factors! Relevance is usually at the heart of it–so, it can be something universal, like a launch, a new product, a new collaboration, etc. Or, it can be something timely like a gift guide or a holiday or world event. It can then be tailored down to industry-specific or something very universal and broad!
Q: Did you start with certain publications first? Which should you focus on: digital media, print or both?
A: Identifying which ones would be a good fit, and ones that you’re familiar with is the best place to start! Lots of times it can, and should be, industry specific. For example, if you have a fashion brand you’re going to want to go after lifestyle and fashion publication. It doesn’t hurt to also reach out to your community or friends and family and see if they might even know someone who works at one of those outlets, just to see if an introduction might be possible. Until you have publications coming to you, it’s great to reach out to all different mediums!
There are still audiences in print, digital has potential incredible reach, but they both have very different timelines to be aware of. Print works months in advance, so, if you want to pitch a product for Christmas, better get to them in the summer! Digital is much more flexible, and on a much heavier rotation, so you don’t necessarily have to stress about outreach under tight deadlines!
Q: How did you find ways to still get press mentions when it wasn’t peak buying season like the holidays?
A: Great question! Personally, I looked at opportunities like collaboration announcements, food holidays and new product launches. There are actually so many possible opportunities out there for interesting stories; you just have to be a little strategic and you need to craft a nice pitch to go along with it!
Q: Did you work with an agency?
A: No agency–all pitches were done by me, so it’s all absolutely possible!