Are you neck deep in editorial calendar research and planning? In addition to listing out the topics you want to cover on your blog, the email newsletters you plan, and the events you will attend, don’t forget to look outside your own ecosystem. Many publications and websites actively seek contributions from experts like you. It’s easier than you think to get quoted in a publication or write a story – it just takes some time and effort on your part. It all starts with some basic editorial calendar research.

First off, let’s talk about why working with publications is an important element to add to the mix of your editorial calendar. Often called “earned media”, external placements can be very valuable to your company.

  • Being accepted by a publication gives you thought-leadership status. You automatically are pre-vetted: The publication is interested in what you have to say and wants to share your ideas.
  • You can reach a brand-new audience – the publication or website has already assembled engaged and interested readers, ready to listen to what you have to say.
  • Links from the publication’s website to yours can boost traffic to your website.
  • Inbound links help your SEO rank and page authority.
  • Plus, you get bragging rights. Share this content to your network.

If you are a well-known expert in your field, then publications may reach out to you for quotes, insight, or contributed bylines or opinion pieces. The rest of us need to reach out and offer ourselves up. It’s a fairly straightforward process – here’s how to make it happen.

Ten Steps from Editorial Calendar Research to Earned Media

Develop a list of publications that reach your target audience. Start with the ones you know, and conduct online searches to find more.

Hint One: Use the Google Alert feature to get an email anytime a specific subject or keyword comes up in the news. If it’s a new publication for you, add it to your list.

Hint Two: Follow the publication on Twitter, and see what others pop up on the recommended list. Follow those, too.

Find the appropriate contact to work with. Some publications have editors who cover the entire spectrum, and others who cover a specific beat. Find the reporters that cover the types of stories where you can contribute, and capture their contact info. If the editor in chief is responsible for reviewing contributed story pitches, capture her info, too.

Locate the publications’ editorial calendars to find their planned story lineups for the year. Most print these in the fall on their websites.

Hint: Since many publication advertisers use editorial calendars to plan ad schedules, they are often located in the “Media Kit” or “Advertising” sections of the publication website.

Review the lineup to see what opportunities might be a fit for you. Read the editor’s guidelines to see if there is a specific person you should pitch, the format preferred, and the timeline requested.

Hint One: Most publications lock down their contributed material anywhere from three to six months in advance of the publication date. When in doubt, pitch early!

Hint Two: Plan these opportunities on your editorial calendar so that you can keep track of them. If you are building an editorial calendar with PlanITPDQ, create a separate channel for bylines, place your opportunities on the calendar, and include the details within the project.

Craft your pitch. Short and sweet is what you want here.

“I notice you’ve been covering blockchain a lot recently, and I have an angle that might be of interest. My company [insert website URL here] has started using blockchain for xyz reason, and has found xyz results. Our senior engineer is happy to talk with you about the two factors we put in place to make it a success – can I line up a call for you?” 

“It looks like you’re covering innovative applications for blockchain in your December issue. Our team has developed a guide to help our company decide whether or not blockchain is a good fit for an application. We base the decisions on X, Y, and Z, and it has helped our company avoid some expensive mistakes. Can we develop a byline for you on the steps that companies can take to vet their blockchain strategies?”

Send it to the right person. Journalists’ biggest complaint is being pitched for stories in subjects they don’t cover. Don’t send the food editor a blockchain story. And don’t send a beat reporter a pitch for your contributed story. Do the work to figure out who does what at the publication before you send your pitch. When in doubt? Ask. Call or email the reporter or an editorial assistant to find out who is your best contact.

Follow up. Editors and reporters receive hundreds of emails each week that are just like yours. Sometimes the good ones slip through the cracks. It’s reasonable to send one follow up email or make one follow up call; it is not reasonable to send a daily barrage of questions. If you still don’t hear, take the hint that you’re not a fit for this story, and come up with a new idea for another time.

Do what you say you’ll do. If a reporter wants to interview your executive, make it happen in the time frame you promised. If the editor wants your story, get it to her by the deadline, in the right format, and the correct word length. If you honor your promises, you’ll keep the door open for another opportunity.

Don’t confuse editorial with marketing copy. You have been given a chance to educate an audience, not sell your product or service. Most publications will reject overtly promotional copy, as they should. No one wants to read a sales pitch.

Brag about your hit. Share the link on your social media accounts, include a mention and a link in your email newsletter, post a synopsis with a link to your website, mention it on your podcast, secure reprints for a trade show handout, send a link to prospects – you name it. You’ve done the work; reap the rewards.


Editorial Calendar Research Tools

The process above assumes that you are starting from scratch in developing your media list. At Harris Marketing Services, we almost always build a list for marketing each client since we tend to work with companies in focused niches. One tip for editorial calendar research is to use Google search phrases such as blockchain “editorial calendar”, or blockchain AND “write for us”, or blockchain AND “submit content”.

If you have the budget, tools can streamline the process of finding opportunities and people. Cision sells a media database along with a host of other PR tools. It does not publish pricing online, but companies report paying between $3,000 and $6,000 per year to access it.

NASDAQ’s MyMediaInfo costs around $3k per year and includes an editorial calendar research feature.

Pressfarm costs $18 per month to research 100 journalist contacts, or $199 per year to access 200 contacts per month.

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) emails reporter queries directly to your inbox. These aren’t true editorial calendar research opportunities because you need to respond quickly, often within one day. But the membership is free, and you can sometimes make good connections. The sooner you respond, the better your chances of being included in the reporter’ story.

Good luck with your editorial calendar research. As with most things, the most important step is to get started. Keep organized (we recommend using PlanITPDQ, of course!), keep at it, and keep your head up – you’re going to get some great press this year!


Need help planning your editorial calendar? Just reach out – we’re happy to work with you on everything from answering questions, to researching opportunities, to full editorial calendar planning. We’ve got you!