I have a local bank client that just started working with me in September. In Arizona, most business publications run their finance issues in November and December; therefore, I expected a frenzy of pitching immediately, followed by a lull.
That dreaded lull. That gap between editorial placements where your client starts questioning value of the PR retainer, even asking, “What have you done for me this month?” Or, in the case of more difficult clients, “… in the last five minutes?”
Sure enough, two solid weeks of pitching landed two byline articles, and a handful of interviews. A wealth of opportunities, with placements for the most important local publications clustered to hit during a four to six-week period.
So how do I plan to fill the pipeline with editorial once the frenzy is past, when my major publications just aren’t interested in money articles?
Two words: vertical markets.
Get Creative With WHO You Pitch
The PR community has growing dialog around the importance of a custom pitch. It takes longer, sure, but has powerful impact on your pitch success rate. As I mentioned last week in my blogger relations post, Six Essential Steps You Must Do Before Pitching a Blogger, it can help you land two out of three pitches, instead of fruitlessly sending out blanket pitches with no results. Time saved and ROI earned is far higher.
I’d like to think we’re getting better at tailoring our pitches to a specific publication and its audience–how we pitch–but what about changing WHO we pitch?
Put on Your Storyteller Hat
Slow pipelines are an opportunity to think bigger with the publications we target, and with customized stories that fit our own needs but reach more niche markets.
Let me give you an example.
My bank client is a top ten SBA lender in my state who, naturally, funds a high volume of small business loans. Physicians, dentists and attorneys make up a significant portion of their commercial real estate loan business, through funding the purchase of office condo space.
Each of these markets have association blogs and trade vertical publications, all ripe for pitching and hungry for free bylines, since they typically don’t have editorial staff to write content. Therefore, one way to fill my editorial pipeline fast might be to pitch these publications with stories tailored to their audience, in a way that fits client objectives.
If pitching the local medical association publication, which reaches physicians, specific story ideas might include, “Five Ways to Close Your Office Condo Loan Faster,” “Is an Office Condo The Right Choice for Your Medical Practice?” or “Ten Differences Between a Commercial Mortgage vs. a Home Mortgage.”
I’d come up with story ideas that fit the specific trade publication audience while targeting the right kinds of prospective clients for MY client at the same time through the story idea: physicians (or dentists or attorneys) thinking about making a real estate purchase.
What can I do when I’ve maximized that audience?
Nothing left to pitch for doctors, dentists or lawyers? I’d turn to a new vertical or niche audience.
I might identify local women-owned business associations who publish a member magazine, and pitch ideas related to available funding options for minority and women-owned businesses, or the impact of gender stereotypes on big financial decisions, and how to combat them. I’d also take a closer look at the bank’s recent customer deals, to identify if there are customer or human interest story opportunities to work with that involve women. Do they have women leadership? New loan activity for a women-owned business, or one with an interesting history? I’d explore what opportunities I can find with my client related to the new vertical or niche market.
After this audience, perhaps technology publications are a great fit. Can I do a story on the impact of technology on banking cyber security? How hackers access your bank account? Financial apps that help you grow your savings? Smartphone secrets that make your financial information vulnerable? Pros/Cons of online loans versus local banks? There’s all kinds of angles to take, both B2B and B2C – and local publications for each of them.
It’s incredibly rewarding to dive into this type of editorial. Expanding the publications and websites that you pitch help you and your client while exploring a different side of creativity. Don’t think inside the box with linear stories that exactly fit your top publications–look deeper.
In PR, there’s truly no reason to have a slow pipeline of editorial placements, no matter how decidedly unsexy an industry might be. Put on that creative storyteller hat and let ‘er rip. GET INSPIRED!