Are you sending query letter after query letter to newspaper and magazine editors with high hopes of getting some "ink" for your article, only to find crickets responding to you? Trust me, as a former magazine editor, getting the cold shoulder is the norm rather than the exception, so don't take it personally. The reality of it is that editors receive an overwhelming amount of pitches for feature articles every day and often the selection process for features can be a bit, well, let’s just say…it can be political.
But even if you're not getting a response on your query letters, you can still land some PR "ink" by writing a letter to the editor. It's a publicity tactic that not very many people use as much as they should be. The Letters to the Editor section is one of the most highly-read sections in both newspapers and magazines alike and, fortunately for you, it’s also the one section that you have a fairly high chance of getting placement in.
Editors are more likely to include your letter than a feature piece because they view a letter to the editor as filler content and so the content itself is not scrutinized as much as a feature article piece. Of course, that’s not to say you can shamelessly plug your product there. Your submission needs to be relevant and you need to make sure that you’re following the guidelines set forth by the publication.
Here are some tips for writing a letter to the editor:
- Follow the instructions provided by the publication. Most large publications will provide submission and format instructions for their letters to the editor section. You'll want to follow their instructions precisely in order to maximize your chances of landing some ink.
- Make sure that the letter is relevant to the publication. Shotgunning your letter to every single publication that you can get a hold of will only get you blacklisted. Be selective and match your content to the interests of the publication's readers.
- Keep your letter short. 250-300 words is a good rule of thumb to follow.
- Include your full contact information. What might have been your original intent to simply get your letter published, might end up being a full interview or feature-length article in an upcoming edition. You never know. But I do know that if you don't include your full contact information, you'll never get that opportunity.
- Remember that it's a letter, not an advertisement. The purpose of a letter to an editor is to rectify inaccuracies, express opinions and share additional helpful information. It's not a place for blatant advertising.
- List your title and your company URL in a subtle way that doesn't seem like a blatant plug. I've tested this many different ways and what I find works the best is listing your full name and then underneath it, list your title and the company that you work for. If your company has a website, then list the website rather than the company name, like this:
Copywriter for ProfitFuzion.com