The Role Of Public Relations In Helping Editors Achieve Their Objectives
As a fully integrated marketing firm, we provide a vast array of services for our clients. In the realm of public relations, it’s important to build long-term relationships with writers, editors, reporters, publications and media outlets in general. As we look for opportunities to highlight a client’s product or service, it’s important to understand the outlet and its audience before pitching. We figured what better way to do this than to reach out to a few writers and editors and get their feedback on how they perceive the relationship between public relations and editorial opportunities.
Meet The Experts
With staff positions at This Old House magazine, Serious Eats, Men’s Journal, and Fatherly, Sal Vaglica is now a freelance writer covering food, gear, outdoors, travel and gardening for the likes of Saveur, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, Bloomberg, Men’s Health, Better Homes & Gardens, and USA Today, among others.
Nancy Jo Adams
Nancy Jo Adams, owner of Life in Camo Media, LLC, is a freelance writer published in Popular Mechanics, Field & Stream, and various other popular media venues. Nancy Jo is an avid and accomplished hunter who has had the opportunity to hunt in over 23 states and South Africa. When she is not at her full-time job at an engineering firm, Nancy Jo can be found on a hunt, scouting in preparation for a hunt, assisting in land management, writing remotely, or in the field working on product photos. She enjoys being active on social media sharing her published works, product reviews, articles, content, and her hunting adventures. Nancy Jo has been a voting member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA) since 2013 and a member of various other writer’s associations and hunting conservation organizations.
Charlie is currently the editor-in-chief of Anglers Journal. He has worked for print publications and online outlets for more than 20 years. He specializes in fishing and boating coverage.
Nate Matthews is the Editor in Chief of Salt Water Sportsman and Sport Fishing Magazines. Prior to this role he spent 17 years at Field & Stream, first as an Online Editor, then Digital Director (+Outdoor Life, Popular Science, and Saveur Magazines), then VP of Digital Content, and finally as VP, Commerce, where he helped create a scalable content operation for reviewing and recommending hunting and fishing equipment online. His current magazines focus primarily on the salt water fishing, boating, and adventure travel industries. He publishes 12 print issues per year across both titles, directs original online content for search, social, and email, and develops content strategies that align business and editorial goals.
Adam Ruggiero is the Editor in Chief of GearJunkie and host of the GearJunkie Podcast. He cut his teeth as a freelancer, then news reporter for the site in 2015. He was the recipient of the 2022 Outdoor Media Summit “Editor of the Year” award, and he regularly co-hosts the industry’s “Gear Guide” at both summer and winter Outdoor Retailer trade shows. In addition to accurate and impartial news reporting, and compelling, original storytelling, his interests include camping in all climates and conditions, track cycling and bikepacking, all forms of fitness, the resplendent majesty of coffee, and sports of every kind.
How do you view public relations agencies/contacts to your overall editorial objectives?
Sal: As a gear writer, PR folks are most useful when they can provide a heads-up to the release of a newsworthy new product. Not just any new product, but one that would be worth covering. Secondarily, that would make it easier to obtain and return testing samples.
Nancy Jo:PR agencies/contacts are a huge factor in my editorial objectives. Building a relationship with an agency and its agents makes for a more personal connection regarding brands and goals for product exposure. Having the networking capabilities to discuss upcoming trips or product ideas with PR agents throughout the year saves valuable time for both. It is also convenient to have access and information about a variety of brands within the same agency — a win-win for both.
Charlie: When it comes to staying up on new products, it’s helpful to our objectives to know the right contacts for product info and imagery.
Adam: In a perfect world, PR walks the tightrope of managing brand messaging with understanding media outlets’ specific needs.
What do you wish every PR professional did?
Sal: When it comes to gear, there is new and newsworthy and then there is also new. I don’t care about new colors; the 2022 fleece now comes in a new color for 2023. I care about big advancements and changes, and trends. It would also behoove a PR pro to find out what I write about. All it takes is one email from you about Valentine’s Day gifts for me to unsubscribe from your email list (and set up a Gmail filter to make sure your future notes go to my trash). Also, know who writes E-com stories and who might want affiliate links. Lastly: Don’t do the “Hey, if you’re working on roundups here’s a product from every. single. brand. we represent…” That’s the worst email to get and it’s usually from entry-level folks who think I need to know about face cream and kayak oars in the same email. PR works best when it’s quality of contact over quantity. The best PR pros I work with might only email me 2 or 3 times a quarter, but it’s usually actionable information.
Nancy Jo: Share embargoed or soon-to-be-released product information as soon as it is available. Sometimes it takes longer to get approval on pitches with specific editorial venues. Knowing what is coming down the pipeline gives writers the advantage to form ideas for content and plan for using the products in the field for photos or research. However, it is understandable that this is often not possible due to confidentiality issues.
Charlie: Researched the magazine and audience before flooding my inbox with things we’d never write about.
Nate:Underwrite travel and expenses for ambitious, exclusive content projects.
Adam: Include all assets in the initial pitch — image folder, press release, etc. Pitch my team/editors in a combined email, so we all know who’s in the loop and/or has responded, called in a sample, etc.
What are the most undesirable questions that a PR contact can ask when seeking editorial coverage?
Sal: I don’t get much of this. If you have limited samples and can’t send gear out unless you have confirmed coverage, I’m fine with that. Just be very transparent about it upfront. If your aim is to land a story idea in a print magazine, it’s helpful if you know what the production schedule is for the title in question. Don’t pitch me a summer fishing story on June 20 and tell me you think it’s a good fit for Outside’s summer issue.
Nancy Jo: I can’t recall a question per se, but I can offer an undesirable expectation. This undesirable expectation is when a PR contact supplies information, products, or a press release and expects content placement within an extremely short time. Albeit, this doesn’t include all products. Some products result in no issues getting placed immediately, especially if it is a standalone product review or a seasonal item that can be mentioned in content already approved for placement, but other items or product mentions in content that require a pitch to a publication will require more time.
Charlie: Just being too pushy.
Adam: Considering the previous question, asking, “Would you be interested in covering?” If I don’t have enough materials to evaluate the pitch, I can’t honestly say if I’m interested in covering. “When will the review go up on your site?” I view product testing as the most important factor in choosing if a review is warranted on GearJunkie. Testing does not equal review. Any question that refers to a different website — I need to know you know who I am and why I need to read this pitch.
What are acceptable questions from PR contacts?
Sal: When something might be published.
Nancy Jo: I have been fortunate to have a great network of representatives to work with who communicate well. I feel that open dialogue about the agency’s expectation of the assignment entrusted to the media personnel is critical. I don’t think any question is unacceptable with the end goal in mind; including a timeline, placement, or updates about content.
Charlie: Would you consider covering XYZ product or property?
Nate:How can I help you tell stories you can’t afford to tell without my help?
Adam: Almost anything: Do you mind returning test samples? What do you think is a reasonable timeline for a review decision? Will you let us know if you will not review the product? Who is the best contact for this type of product pitch in the future? So long as you understand what I’m working with, you’re free to ask anything and I’m more than happy to level with you.
Do you have an example of a PR pitch that wasn’t well thought out?
Sal: I wish I did. What I wish more PR folks would do is think like an editor; an editor is interested in trends because every editor tracks trends. For example: if you’re pushing a product that isn’t exactly brand new — say it’s a Bluetooth wireless speaker that has an epic water resistance and durability rating — don’t send me an email saying “Hey do you want to cover Tk brand’s epic speaker? Instead, Google it: Is the brand you’re working with one of four new models that came out this year? Then that’s a trend. It’s a lot easier for me to get behind a story that’s about the trend in speakers becoming indestructible, and including the brand you work with, than to spotlight your brand alone.
Nancy Jo: An expectation to place heated gear content, such as battery-heated base layers, vests, gloves, or jackets, in the spring. Most outdoor gear agencies have a clear understanding of seasonal product demand and the timing of content needs for those seasons. However, some agencies that don’t specialize in this industry don’t understand that concept.
Are you looking to improve your brand’s presence in an ever-competitive market? As a fully integrated marketing firm, TBA Outdoors can cover these bases — and lots more — for your brand. Reach out to our team of marketing professionals today to see how we can help your outdoor brand with its marketing campaigns and more.