If your brand has great content that is not getting the attention it deserves or if you simply want more eyeballs (and who doesn’t?), it might be time to look at your calendar. The vast majority of the thousands and thousands of daily, weekly and specialty newspapers nationwide run timely special sections or special supplements on such topics as Back to School, Spring Home & Garden, Holiday Season, etc. This means more pages to fill and that’s where your brand’s stories can help fill this need.
Simply put: Come up with some seasonal (non-promotional) story ideas that fill newspaper and reader needs, position your brand as an expert on these topics, and start pitching! Go a step further than simply putting together a bare bones press release spotlighting a topic and your spokesperson quote. Writing your own fully-fleshed out feature story, pairing it with a high-definition lifestyle photo and pitching it to community dailies and weeklies can help you be more successful with these types of papers.
Of course, writing seasonal features, sourcing and securing lifestyle images, and pitching more than 9,000 daily, weekly and specialty newspapers may be a bit of a chore. This is where a good feature placement service can help, by crafting a journalistic “news readers can use” story that spotlights your brand, and then distributing this story to thousands of local print and online media outlets you don’t typically target in your press outreach.
Here are just a few reasons and ways Special Sections are going to get you higher pickup on your story and more eyeballs on your brand:
Stories targeting special sections routinely get better pick-up among news outlets because of their timely hooks, useful content and attention-grabbing headlines. The biggest reason special sections can work for your media strategy is that they are tried and true. Newspapers plan for this content every year like clockwork. They sell special advertising against them so they need more content to fill additional pages around all those ads — and that’s where you can come in by knowing when and how to provide them with that additional content. And the pay-off can be huge: special sections can equal special results in the form of more media placements than a typical feature story or mat release might yield when you pitch it to media outlets throughout the year.
Special sections mean special timing. You need to pitch your content to the newspapers well in advance of the seasonal section you are targeting — weeks and even months ahead. The media outlets prepare and print them in advance, since there is usually no late breaking news on how to prepare a holiday dinner, how to decorate your home for the season or how to help kids become better readers during back to school season!
So, pitch your Back to School stories to media outlets beginning in July, your holiday stories starting in October, spring features in mid-February, and so on. Don’t wait too long to spread your word.
Knowing who to pitch is also crucial. Special sections aren’t always managed by a managing editor or features editor. Sometimes they aren’t even created by the editorial side at all. Advertising sales teams and publishers frequently manage these special ad-supported seasonal sections. This means you have to create a special target list to pitch that goes beyond your typical list of journalists.
When it comes to special section content, service journalism works best. That is, providing readers with tangible information they can turn into action during the season in question. It’s all about presenting information that helps readers improve their lives — typically in the form of tips, advice or how-tos. Of course, this strategy is one you should employ with feature stories or mat releases, in general, not just for special sections.
To get the most pick-up by media outlets, your story should also have broad appeal, meaning it needs to be of use to the majority of readers who will be reading the special section.
Get Cracking ASAP!
Don’t delay. Start planning your own special section calendar featuring the stories you want to issue at different times of year, get cracking on writing them and finding the right photos for each story, put together your target list of media and start pitching as early as possible! Or drop us a line and we can take these chores off your hands.
After all, timing is everything.