5 things editors wish you knew about the content you’re pitching

To get your message out there, it’s essential to learn how editors select and sample content for their sites. Here’s what we learned when we asked them what they look for.

This article originally appeared on PR Daily in March of 2018.

Editors want your content—and they want a great pitch.

Every company has its own unique marketing and PR needs—but if you’re in the field, you know that pitching content and working alongside your media contacts at publications are important across the board. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean marketing and PR pros do a bang-up job every time they send off those pitch emails.

If you want to contribute guest posts and earn a byline yourself, or if you want to successfully pitch your sources to editors, then you must deliver what those editors require.

It helps when you know exactly what that is—which is why we asked them.

In our report, “The State of Digital Media 2018,” we surveyed editors at publications across industries and analyzed more than 3.5 million pieces of published content to better understand what separates the winning content from the countless deleted pitches.

Here are five things to keep in mind when pitching your would-be media friends:

1. There’s more opportunity than you think.

You’re on your devices all day, and so is everyone else. We’re constantly consuming content: reading, watching videos and listening to podcasts.

Editors know this and 76 percent of them publish up to 10 guest posts each week. What’s more, 94 percent of editors we surveyed said they plan to maintain or increase the amount of guest content they publish. Growing their audiences and keeping visitors engaged means they need to publish loads of high-quality content consistently, and with the right pitches, you can help editors meet that need.

2. Editors are looking for more than just written articles.

Editors publish a ton of written content, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Written content is one of the most easily scalable and effective ways to reach audiences, which makes it popular among thought leaders and editors alike—but it’s not the only format editors and their audiences are open to.

When asked what other forms of media they planned to publish this year, 67 percent of editors said video content, 52 percent said infographics, and 40 percent said podcasts.

Does this mean you should stop contributing written pieces? Absolutely not, but it does mean that providing a little variety can go a long way toward helping editors.

3. Your overly promotional content is a problem.

Marketers and PR pros are responsible for a lot, including brand building and promotion. Unfortunately, that promotion can creep its way into what’s supposed to be high-value educational content, and that leads to rejection.

Nearly 8 out of 10 editors surveyed cited excessive promotion as the biggest problem with content they’re pitched.

Focus on your audience, not yourself. If your content is valuable (and you promote that content effectively), you’ll get a brand boost even if you never mention your company, services or products.

4. Publications need more content during certain times of year.

Audiences (and therefore editors) need content throughout the year—but would it surprise you that editors are looking for more pitches at certain times? Editors expressed a greater need for contributed content during the winter holiday season than any other time, followed by June, July and August, when contributed content tends to drop off.

By submitting ideas right around (or even a little before) these time periods, you may have a stronger chance of getting your work published.

5. Success is more than social shares.

Like you, editors measure their content’s performance. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re using the same metrics to gauge guest post success, though, so it’s important to make sure you understand what matters to them.

For instance, 93 percent of editors use page views as a metric. Seventy-five percent look at the time readers spend on their websites, and 69 percent use social shares. If you can make an impact on the metrics that matter to editors, your chances of contributing again will increase.

Kelsey Raymond is the president of Influence & Co., a content marketing firm that specializes in helping companies showcase their expertise through thought leadership.

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