No matter your specific PR and marketing goals, securing media coverage is likely at least part of your strategy. Media coverage can help you boost brand awareness, communicate with and expand your audience of potential customers, share your brand’s story, message, and values, establish your brand as leaders in the field, and more. But understanding the ins and outs of the editorial process can feel a bit overwhelming if you’re not familiar with it. Ensuring that you’re clear on the media timeline from pitch to publication can help you maximize your chances of successful coverage—and help you stay patient in the meantime.
When working on new story pitches, the first thing that journalists are going to do is brainstorm. They’re going to determine if there are any upcoming holidays or events that they want to or can tie a pitch to, or if they’re going to be working on pitches that are more evergreen (industry-speak for a story that is always relevant, versus tied to a specific point in time). The exact brainstorming process is going to look slightly different person to person, or beat to beat. Some beats—like news or entertainment—are more driven by pre-pitch reporting, while others, like many lifestyle beats, can start as just a general idea. Then, writers will take a look to see what else has been said on the topics, as well as what has been published about the topics in the outlet to which they’re hoping to pitch the piece. If their story has already been written and published in that outlet, they’re not going to pitch it.
Once they have an idea that they’re ready to share with editors, it’s time for a journalist to craft their pitch. Generally speaking, the pitch will include: a working headline, a short summary of their story, a bit about why they should tell this story now and why it should be published by this particular outlet, and, often, a short list of sources that they’re planning to reach out to, do more research on, and the like.
Once a pitch has been accepted (which can take some time if it’s not a timely piece), there’s usually some discussion of rate (if they’re a freelancer) and the deadline for the piece. Then, it’s on to the research and reporting stage. During this period, the journalist might read about the topic, conduct interviews with experts or those who could have more information about the topic, test products or sample services, and more. Depending on the story, you as a brand or expert might hear from a writer during the brainstorming or the reporting process. The reporting process often continues up until the deadline if necessary, including while the reporter is writing and revising their article.
Writing the article
Once the research and reporting process has begun, a journalist may be able to begin the writing process. This process is as you would imagine: the writer will work on taking their notes, interview transcripts, research, personal experience, and more and create their finished story.
Editing & finalizing the article
When the writer has finished writing, they’ll send the piece to their editor. The editor is tasked with reviewing the piece, ensuring that everything reads well and there aren’t any obvious errors in content or grammar. This part of the process will also see fact-checking reviews take place, as well as photo or image selection and headline writing. Depending on the outlet, this may all be done by one editor or there may be a team who works on various pieces of this process to get the article ready for publication.
Publication & promotion
Now, the article is ready to be published. Once it’s published, the outlet may choose to promote it on its social media accounts. The writer may also promote the piece, and they may send a link or PDF to the piece to the PR person or brand to let them know that the article is live. Those featured in the article should also promote it—share it on social media, add it to your website, and more. For more information on how you can make the most of your press coverage, read our blog post on the topic.
When all is said and done, this process can either take just a few days or it can take weeks or even months. Understanding how long the process may take is important so that you know how far ahead you may need to pitch story ideas to writers, as well as to best prepare yourself to be patient if necessary.
Press Hook can help demystify the earned media process. To learn more about how we can help your brand achieve your media relations goals, book a call with our team.