On the blog today is guest contributor Andreea Ayers. Andreea has helped many young brands launch their products into retail stores, and is on the Handshake blog to talk about one of her favorite topics–publicity. 

Publicity is a hugely important factor in getting your wholesale brand in front of retailers, promoting your products, and making sales. In my experience, getting featured in a trade or consumer magazine can immediately bring wholesalers’ products in front of the eyes of retailers.

Among younger and smaller brands, many believe that only well-established brands are featured, but that is simply not the case. Open the pages of any trade or consumer magazine, and you’ll see smaller brands featured right alongside national brands.

While attending a trade show is a common way to get in front of the media, how do you get publicity for your wholesale brand if you don’t have the budget for a trade show or if you’re in between shows? Read on to find out.

What the Media Really Wants Is Stories

The key to getting your brand featured in the media is contacting the right person at the right time with the right story. Whether you sell food, flooring, baby toys, or apparel, the media is interested in one thing: your story. More specifically, they’re interested in how your story fits with their readers’ interests.

This is true of publications that cover the trade industry, but also of magazines that are geared towards the general consumer population. Retailers read consumer magazines in addition to trade magazines, so making them both a part of your publicity efforts is ideal.

Often, people will think about how to get publicity just in terms of press releases. But if this is your only strategy, you won’t be able to compete with the sheer number of other brands vying for the media’s attention. The old model of writing a press release and using a wire to distribute it is no longer as effective as it once used to be. So what can you do to get your brand’s story featured?

How to Get Publicity for Your Wholesale Brand In 5 Steps

1. Make a list.

Your first step is to make a list of media outlets you want to see your products in this year. What kind of magazines might your brand fit into? Think about both trade magazines like Gift Shop Magazine or Food Business News, but also consider the consumer magazines that your end customer might read, like Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, etc. Find the publications that are relevant for your business.

It’s important to note that while trade magazines have lower circulation rates, they often land directly in the hands of your target market: retailers. For a list of trade magazines in your industry, check out this helpful list.

2. Look at editorial calendars.

After you have your list of publications, it’s time to get a hold of their editorial calendar. Many magazines publish their editorial calendars on their websites for advertisers, and they can be easily downloaded. These are a wealth of information, as they often describe the publication’s ideal reader, themes for each issue and publishing deadlines.

One thing to note about magazines is that they work around “lead times.” Usually, consumer magazines work about 3-6 months in advance of the issue publication date, while trade magazines work about 2-4 months in advance. That means that in January, an editor could be working on anything from their March to their July issue, which is why the key to publicity is planning ahead.

3. Get contact information for the right editor/writer.

Once you decide which media outlets feature stories that your wholesale brand is a good fit for, it’s time to find out who is working on those particular kinds of stories.

Smaller publications usually have one Editor-in-Chief, an Associate or Senior Editor and a Writer/Researcher who writes most of the content for each issue. Larger publications have many editors who write/edit the different sections of each magazine. If you have a lifestyle product, then the Lifestyle Editor would probably be your best bet. If it’s a fashion product, then the Fashion editor would be the right contact for you, and so on.

Their name and title are listed in the magazine’s masthead (the list of employees at the front of the issue) or on the publication’s website (try the “About Us” and “Contact Us” sections). When in doubt, simply call the magazine and ask.

Once you have their name and title, there are a few things you can do to get their contact information:

  • Call the magazine and ask.
  • Visit their website to see if it’s listed.
  • Connect with them on LinkedIn.
  • Connect with them on Facebook or Twitter and use the Direct Message feature to reach out.
  • Ask for an introduction from another brand that’s previously been featured.
  • Purchase access to a media list or sign up for a media database like Cision.
  • Use a service like Get Media Happy to connect directly with editors.

Once you have their contact information, it’s time to pitch!

4. Pitch your story at the right time to the right person.

Think of your pitch as your opportunity to connect and help, not just as a way to get your brand on their radar (though this will happen naturally).

Reaching out via email is your best bet, rather than calling by phone. Keep your email short (about 3-4 paragraphs of 2-3 sentences each), and use a compelling subject line. Usually, subject lines that ask a question or use the person’s name are very effective (for example, “Sarah, are you still looking for nature-inspired linens for your March issue?”).

The more targeted and personalized your pitch is to the publication’s needs, the more likely you are to receive coverage. If you enjoyed a previous article that the editor wrote, mention this in your email. If you share a common interest, let them know. If you were at a trade show that they recently attended, tell them. The more personal you get, the better.

Make sure that your email mentions the following:

  • Why your wholesale brand will appeal to their readers.
  • A sentence or two about your and your brand’s story.
  • A link to your website.
  • Pricing information (for wholesale or retail, depending on who you’re writing to).
  • A picture or collage of pictures that shows your products (embedded in the email, not as an attachment).

Also, offer them a sample to try or test if they’d like, along with high resolution photos. The easier you can make it for them to say yes, the more likely they are to reply!

5. Follow up.

While your research and pitch are important steps to getting coverage, this last one may be the most important. So many brands assume that if they don’t hear back from the editor immediately, it means that they are not interested. This simply isn’t the case.

One of the most important lessons you can learn is that following up is crucial to any business contact you want to make, whether you’re contacting a magazine or a potential retail buyer.

About a week after you send your initial pitch, send a quick follow up email referencing your previous pitch. If you still don’t get a response when you follow up, that doesn’t mean that the editor is not interested in your brand. It can mean that they are not interested right now or they may be able to pass on your info to an editor who is working on a story that might be a better fit. It makes sense to reach out to them again a few months later, but this time with a different story idea and pitch. Persistence and follow up are key!

A Few Things to Remember

When pitching journalists and editors, keep in mind that they are busy people, just like you. They also like to be recognized for their work, so if you read a recent article of theirs or loved one of the wholesale brands they wrote about in a previous issue, mention that when you reach out to them. Again, the more you can personalize your pitch to them, the more likely you will hear back.

If you don’t hear back, don’t take it personally. Move on and contact them at a later date with a new story idea or contact a different editor or journalist at the same publication. With some elbow grease, research and determination, you can experience the thrill of seeing your wholesale brand in one of your favorite trade or consumer magazines.

 

Author Bio: Andreea Ayers is the founder of LaunchGrowJoy.com and GetMediaHappy.com. She loves to help entrepreneurs and young brands get more sales via wholesale, online marketing, social media and publicity.