How To Get Into A Feature That A Freelance Has Been Commissioned To Write For A Magazine Or Website

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Many feature articles - particularly industry-wide reviews on a particular topic are written by freelance journalists in response to a commission (a brief plus payment) from the Editor of the publication. Phil Turtle, managing director of PR agancy Turtle Consulting Group explains how to get your company into those features.

Unless you've been following our advice on "Helping Freelance Journalists to Help You" in a separate Turtle PR Tip the freelance probably doesn't know much about your company and may not know at all that you have something to say about "The green credentials of left-handed widgets" or whatever the subject is.

And even if you've been regularly sending him/her information, he/she may still not think to contact you.

Oops! - You've just been left out of the one and only feature each year that magazine or website is running on your most important topic.

So how do you avoid getting left out?

First, make sure you obtain and study the Forward Features List of all the key publications in both your sector(s) and your key vertical markets.

When you see that there's something suitable in the list, prepare some notes on what you would contribute. Note, some magazines will take an entire 1000/1200 word feature by-lined to one of your company's people if you pitch a good synopsis at the right time and speak to the Editor.

As well as letting him/her know you've got some great content to contribute, find out whether the feature will be:

1) Contributed in its entirety by a company
2) Written by a staff writer
3) Commissioned to a freelance journalist.

Now beware! The Editor may well have not yet decided which way to play it and will tell you it's not on his/her horizon yet. Try to find out when he/she thinks they will be making that decision.

Murphy's Law guides us that if we wait until that time before making contact, the Editor may decide earlier and the piece be written before you've had time to contribute. So make contact two thirds the way between now and then to just gently enquire.

Repeat this process as necessary because it is a fact of life that if you don't keep on top of this, you will probably get forgotten and left out.

Yes, I know this sounds like a total pain - that's why specialist PR agencies like Turtle exist - but the Editor is often the only person working on the content of the publication. In fact often the Editor is also a freelance working just a few days per month to pull it all together!

Your objective, of course, through all of this, is to find out if it's to be a commissioned freelance writing the article - who it is and exactly when he/she has received the Editor's brief.

Now I know I've said above that the Editor may decide early but to be honest this is rare - though I promise that if you don't keep on top of the process this will be the rare occasion when it does happen.

What is far more normal, however, is that the Editor has one of those "Oh heck" Moments - realising that he/she should have commissioned the article weeks ago but was too busy - and now he needs it by next Wednesday for the production department deadline.

So it's frequently a mad scramble to find a suitable freelance who actually has the time to drop everything and write it.

The result is that the freelance probably has three days - from start to finish - to write and submit the article.

So, provided you can elicit the freelance's contact information from the Editor at precisely the right time, immediately e-mail the freelance a very short note outlining:

1. What unique or really useful (to the journalists) contribution you can offer
2. Who you can make available at the drop of a hat for interview.
3. That you can answer a list of questions by e mail within 12/24 hours if that's easier. (Most 'interviews' are actually done this way).
4. That you can provide oodles of background info on 'xxx' or 'yyy' and 'zzz' relevant topics.
5. That you have a good selection of pictures that can be used to illustrate the feature

At a time like this, the freelance needs all the help he/she can get and frequently whether or not you're included (assuming of course you can supply high quality input) is actually down to how much you help the journalist turn the piece round in next to no time.

Phil Turtle is a serial Entrepreneur, Business Consultant and PR Expert and CEO of Turtle Consulting Group. Turtle Consulting Group is a PR Company that specialises in tech and business to business PR. According to many Editors Turtle PR Agency is refreshingly different to most other agencies because it is totally focused on the needs of Editors." The result of this is that Turtle clients get exceptional coverage and return on investment (RoI).

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