In the summer I had the pleasure of speaking to Emma Winterschladen, a freelance editor, writer and illustrator based in East London, who shared her top tips for working with the media.
Emma started her career Liz Earle Wellbeing magazine, and was Food & Travel Editor there for nearly five years. The magazine covers beauty, health, fitness, food, travel and home, and Emma both wrote and commissioned there during her time at the magazine.
Her work now is varied, but includes writing for publications such as YOU magazine and Grazia, as well as being Editor-at-Large of BEAST – a print magazine covering all things East London, including culture, food & drink, small businesses, music, fashion, people, charities & social enterprises.
What are editors really looking for?
All things new and exciting – or old things told in new and exciting ways. As an editor I want to offer readers content that is both thought (and feeling) provoking in a way that’s both accessible and interesting.
What’s the best way to connect with an Editor?
Editors are always ‘on’ in their research for new ideas and stories - whether that’s scrolling on Twitter or loitering on Facebook groups. So there can be lots of ways to ‘low stakes’ connect before sending an email. Intro emails are a good idea for an official first point of contact – just reaching out to introduce yourself – who you are, what you can talk about, etc. can be a great way to get on their radar so when they’re looking for an expert in your field, you’re on their mind (and most likely flagged or filed away in a folder in their inbox too).
What if no one’s replying?
There are lots of reasons why you might not get a response from a journalist or editor. You might reach out with a brilliant story, but they’re bogged down in deadlines or it’s not just relevant to what they’ve covering at the moment. I use folders in my inbox for certain topics and experts so I can file them away and come back to them later date when I’m looking for ideas. Unfortunately I don’t always have time to respond individually to those emails at the time of receiving them. I know it can be disheartening when you don’t get a reply (my freelance journalism means I know this feeling well), but try not to take it personally and don’t be afraid of sending a follow up, or continuing to reach out if you have a new launch or product, because you never know if and when they might come back to you!
How do journalists feel about people pitching themselves?
In my role as Editor for BEAST magazine, I would connect with lots of local businesses who don’t necessarily have a huge following or PR agency behind them. For me, being able to build those personal relationships with businesses and people whose work I love and respect, and then be able to offer a platform for their product or story, is a joy of the job!
What are your top tips for pitching?
Personalise your pitches – make it relevant to that editor, publication and reader. And remember that journalists are always looking for content and people want to hear your stories, so don’t feel like you’re putting anyone out by emailing! Editors want to find new voices to diversify their content, and although it’s easy for an editor for default to what and who they know, we’re always grateful to hear from the new people and brands.
Storytelling is also a huge part of doing your own PR, so work out what your brand story is. It doesn’t have to have dramatic, life changing or headline grabbing.. But readers will connect with the reasons behind you starting your business, or what your business stands for, or if it has a purpose that’s personal – we love a human angle.
Don’t neglect the smaller publications – they can be more accessible and also more relevant to your audience, in some cases. They can also work as a stepping stone for bigger publications – and give you great content to share yourself across your socials and in your press area of the website.
Connecting with freelance journalists can also be a great way in. Find freelancers who are writing about subjects relevant to you and start to develop a relationship with them – this might be as simple as connecting with them on Twitter or Instagram and starting to engage with their content. They will have contacts and relationships with editors and will also be pitching them bigger editorial pieces, which can be a more meaningful way to get in front of a new audience, and a more successful way of getting on an editors radar than an email landing in an editor’s inbox cold.
Emma also recently edited charity e-cookbook Staying In: Recipes and Stories from Isolation, which has so far raised over £38,000 for Chefs in Schools. She has also recently launched her new shop The Hungry Heart Club, selling art prints and postcards.