Judging from the volume of responses (both in terms of numbers and of passion) to the first few installments of my series of How To Get Into Black Enterprise posts, this latest installment is long overdue. Hopefully, you’ll find it to be worth waiting for, and as useful as the other posts in the series.
Let’s start with a simple question: When it’s time to pitch yourself or your business to Black Enterprise for a possible story, who do you send your information to?
Let me start by telling you who you shouldn’t send it to:
a. Everybody in the masthead of the magazine
b. The highest ranking person you can find on the masthead, or at Black Enterprise as a company, including the chairman and publisher, president and CEO, the editor in chief, and your’s truly.
As far as the first option goes, there is virtually no case where sending your press materials or story pitch to every person at Black Enterprise with the word “editor” in their title is appropriate, or even effective. When every editor on staff receives the same pitch, from the same person or company, at the same time, it tells us that 1) your pitch is not well thought out and focused and/or 2) you’re not all that familiar with Black Enterprise. Yet, you’d be surprised at how many people take this scatter-gun approach to suggesting themselves or their company for a possible story.
Now to be fair, there are some exceptions to the rule with the second option—for example, if our CEO specifically and directly asked you to send your information to him so that he could share it with our content team (or if you prefer the old school, pre-multimedia term, editorial staff). It’s rare, but it happens. However, in most cases, sending your information to say, me—or my counterpart with the magazine, Editor-in-Chief Derek T. Dingle—only means that you’re counting on us to read through your materials, and direct it to the appropriate member of our staff, who will ultimately be expected to decide whether or not it should be considered for the magazine. We always do it if we can, but it is highly time-consuming and inefficient, reducing the chance of your idea being considered in a timely fashion, especially given the high volume of correspondence we receive via both e-mail and snail-mail. (Not to mention phone calls and meetings. And Facebook. And Twitter. And producing a monthly magazine. And feeding this insatiable website every day. Deep breaths.) Believe me, it is far better for you to be able to target your communication directly to the appropriate person on the editorial staff, than to count on Derek or me to excel on your behalf as postal distributors.
So, let’s go back to the question at hand: Who at Black Enterprise do you send your information to if you want to be considered for a story? You find the answer to that question by asking another: What kind of Black Enterprise story do you want to be featured in?
Black Enterprise, as with most media products, breaks down its coverage into specific subject areas, and then assigns editors/content producers to manage coverage of those areas, including deciding who and what to cover when, and who should write the articles. If you’re familiar with Black Enterprise, then you know that we specialize in coverage of personal finance, small business and careers as primary areas of expertise, supplemented by coverage of technology, lifestyle and personal development. All you need to do is look carefully at the sections of the magazine, to see which content producer is responsible for which area of coverage. All other things being equal, that’s how you identify the right editor to pitch your idea to.
For example, let’s say you’ve just launched a hot new tech company, and you want to be featured in Black Enterprise. Go back to the question: What kind of story do I want to be featured in? Chances are, the answer is: a technology or small business story.
So you look at the bottom of the opening page of Black Enterprise magazine’s Tech section, and guess what? It’s edited by Marcia Wade Talbert, who is also named in the masthead as a content producer. It even has her Twitter handle. Flip to the Small Biz section of the magazine, and you’ll notice at the bottom of the opening spread for the section that it says “Edited by Carolyn M. Brown,” along with her Twitter handle.
You know where I’m going: if you’re interested in being featured in a story about technology or small business, pitch your idea and send your information to Wade and/or Brown. By being familiar with both Black Enterprise magazine (including the masthead found among the first pages of each issue) and BlackEnterprise.com, you’ll have all the information you need to make the best decision about which editors to pitch and how to pitch them, which will increase the chances of you achieving your goal: getting into Black Enterprise.
By the way, a great online resource to find out who’s who in the mastheads of more than 750 magazines (including ours), and how best to pitch ideas to them, is Mastheads.org. You can get a year’s free access by contributing the names of people in the masthead of a magazine not currently in their directory, or you can just pay $4.00 for access.
Other posts in this series: