The shelves are awash with business publications. Some focus on specific geographic areas; others are global. Business publications focus on various areas of business such as leadership, business in Africa, technology, management, entrepreneurship, franchising, and building personal wealth. The list is endless. There are also a myriad of profession-specific and industry specific publications.
The first question to ask is “What am I trying to achieve by obtaining free editorial in a business publication?” It may be as straightforward as raising awareness around a book you have recently published, trying to find new customers for a specific product or service, locally, elsewhere in Africa, or even globally, or trying to raise your personal profile as an expert in a particular area.
The next consideration is to select the publications which are read by the audience you are trying to target. There has to be a good fit; a machine gun approach is a waste of time.
You can also ask the question: “Is there a gap in the editorial coverage in a particular publication? Is there a particular field that I would like to see covered on a regular basis?” This may include areas such as digital adoption, automation, cyber security, big data or social media? This question is relevant if you are an expert in any of these fields.
Being an expert in an area provides credibility. Psychologist Andries Ericsson says one can only call oneself an expert if you have 10 000 hours of practice in a specific area. I do not believe this applies to mavericks or disruptors.
Select three or four publications, which have a track record of publishing the type of editorial you envisage writing, or commissioning. Does the publication provide editorial guidelines? Many do. Many will also ask you to submit a synopsis of your story, together with some biographical information. Spend time on the synopsis and make sure you follow their guidelines to the letter. If you are acknowledged as a guru it is much easier to “sell yourself.” If you have a “newbie”, you have to grab the editor’s attention immediately.
You need to “sell yourself and your article idea.” What would a publication sell one page of advertorial for – R20 000.00, R40 000.00 or a rate based in Euros or dollars? Will you article add more value than R20 000.00 in the bank? The editor needs to see the value of your article.
Every publication has an editorial year plan. These are generally available on the Internet. Look out for editorial features. Is there a feature on digitisation, diversity in the workplace, project management, recruiting talent, in a particular month? Contact the editor, and offer to submit copy. Ensure that you include quotable quotes. The editor may ask you to respond to questions. Ensure that your responses are animated, interesting, thought provoking; they may even be controversial. These types of responses are often included in an industry-type overview.
Ensure that your copy is clean – no grammatical errors, no typos, and no spelling mistakes. Avoid the passive voice. Check for readability – set the readability statistics on your computer.
If you impress the editor, she may invite you to become a regular contributor.