Hidden in the dark recesses of nearly every media outlet’s Web site is a standing invitation to offer relevant content; it’s the editorial calendar. And every year at Weaver Stephens Group, we celebrate the winter holidays with our own little tradition: the gathering of the editorial calendars.
If you’ve never seen an editorial calendar, it’s essentially a monthly schedule of topics and special sections for a particular publication. Ed cals, as they are sometimes called, are usually buried within the media kits of their respective publications. Sometimes you have to request a media kit via email, but they can usually be downloaded from the Web. They are often quite detailed, including bonus distributions and advertising deadlines.
The trick to using an ed cal to pitch stories is to give yourself plenty of lead time. Monthly publications plan articles two to four months ahead of the publication date. That means you should be pitching a story idea a few months ahead. Weekly publications typically produce non-breaking news content a few weeks ahead of the publication date.
In addition to the editorial calendar, the media kit as a whole provides a good overview of the mission, audience and content focus for a particular publication. Put all those items together, and you’re well on your way to crafting a pitch that is uniquely suited to the needs of your target media outlet.