With summer winding down and everyone in “back to school” or “back to work mode” (sigh!) I think it’d be useful for readers to be reminded of a few tips for submitting articles to our publication, and for posting your industry events on our website.
Here you go (in no particular order). (P.S. You may wish to share this with the marketing folks in your organization!)
- Event posting: Go to our website homepage. Under “Events” click on “Events Calendar” and follow the instructions to add your event (by filling in a fairly simple online form). After you submit your event, I get an email to “approve” it, and then it goes live. Our Events Calendar is a very well-traveled place on our high-traffic website, and a great place to promote your event. (Best of all, it’s free!) I’m often amazed how many people in our industry produce events, but don’t take advantage of this service.
- Article submission: Many years ago when we launched the magazine I had to beg, borrow and steal to get timely and insightful articles for the magazine. Nowadays we’re established enough that (usually) more material is sent to me than I can actually use. While this is a “nice problem to have” I still have to wade through a lot of submissions that are difficult to for me to use. If you want me to select YOUR article, here are some tips:
- You can send me an email briefly describing a topic you’d like to write on, and we can schedule it for a future edition. Or you can simply email me a finished article. As long as you follow these “tips” there’s a good chance I’ll use it.
- Text length is usually 700 words (no more) as this fits nicely on a single page, or I can splash it over a couple of pages if there are good photos and charts. Don’t send anything longer unless I agree (in advance) that this is a cover story.
- If I agree the article deserves to be a “cover story” it can run between 1,000 and about 1,200 words. Anything longer may have to be heavily edited or bounced entirely. So, staying within this length helps ensure your article actually runs.
- Articles can be on any aspect of our industry, and can have a technical bent or be oriented to strategies. The main thing I’m looking for is that the information is practical.I almost always ask myself, “How does this article help someone do their job?” If the answer is obvious, I will probably use your article; if it’s vague, your article will likely languish in the “slush pile” of mediocre articles every editor keeps on hand (for emergencies).
- It’s important to include the complete contact info of the author inside the text of the article (at the end), including name, title, company, city and email address. I actually have several articles on my computer that are decent but that I can’t use because I’ve lost track of who sent them! (And there’s no clue inside the article text!) If a PR company is sending the article on behalf of your organization, include all the contact info for that company PLUS the author contact info inside the article text.
- Don’t attempt to “lay out” your article (with fancy fonts and typesetting and embedded images). Our art department does all that and needs me to send simple Word text files and separate image files for photos and charts. Keep it simple.
- Speaking of photos, receiving poor quality and low resolution images is one of the most constant problems I encounter with article submissions! I cannot use an article that isn’t accompanied by a high resolution color image of the author (for the byline). By high resolution, I mean something like a 1 MB file size, not some little 60 KB file that would be blurry even on a website! It should be in a standard format like JPEG or TIFF. (And send a headshot that looks professional, well lit, with a plain background — not a close-crop of your head from that wedding you attended in 1974 in a powder blue tuxedo! I’m not kidding, this has happened more than once!) This is your “15 minutes of fame” as Andy Warhol called it, so step up to the plate and look like a pro!
- Charts, photos and other graphics should be sent as separate attachments (with captions!) each attached to its own email, so as not to slow my server. If you have several high resolution images, use an online service like Box.com to share the images, so I can download them easily.
- Never “snail mail” me anything — I’m 100 per cent digital and email oriented these days, and I suspect most magazine editors are as well.
- Make sure your article is clear and concise, and on point. And remember we want to share useful information with readers. You can mention your company a couple of times, but don’t make the article read like a late night infomercial! You’d be surprised how many articles I disregard because they read like this: “XYZ Ltd, the world’s leading supplier of grommets, once again impresses customers with its amazing new line of super grommets, which are cheaper and better than those of any competitor…” Trust me, I will edit out all that crap, or more likely not use the piece at all!
- There’s nothing I like better than a good case study, e.g., a profile of a big job or a plant/facility, with good technical detail. Sometimes I’ll consider a “policy” oriented article, as long as it’s about something timely that affects reader’s work or compliance needs. One thing I commonly get from PR companies is offers to “interview” the CEO (or whatnot) of their company. They announce something about the company or a new product and tell me they can set up a chance for me to “interview” this person. Let me be clear: I hate those invitations! Interviews are actually a lot of work (conducting, transcribing, etc.) and often don’t give me what I need. I happen to think it’s usually laziness on the part of the PR company: rather than write something I can actually publish, they want to stick me with “all the work.” I’m not looking for ways to complicate my already busy life, so instead of inviting me to interview your CEO, send me an article as per above, and there’s a good chance I’ll use it.
My contact info is under the Contact tab (obviously) of our website. Go ahead and send me something, and remember I need a lot of lead time. (Two to three months is a good approximation, from first contact to actual publishing.)