How To Get Into Black Enterprise: What Not To Do

Avoid these mistakes when approaching an editor about a story on your business

Being obviously unfamiliar with Black Enterprise. This is something else you communicate when you don’t seem to know our names and titles. Or when you send your information to every editor on staff (using form letters, an absolute no-no) whether your business is relevant to the topics they cover or not. (Ask yourself: Why would our senior personal finance editor need to know about your glass repair business?) Or when you send the exact same letter to different magazines, and we get the one meant for Essence or Inc. by mistake. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying you have to be a lifelong subscriber of Black Enterprise to get into the magazine (though that doesn’t hurt). But if you want us to consider you for a story, it helps tremendously if you know what generally appears in the magazine and on the web site, and what you’ll not likely to ever see. For example, Entrepreneurs should be familiar with the columns, such as Making It, that appear in the Small Biz section. You, or the person or company you’ve hired to handle media relations, should keep at least two years of back issues of Black Enterprise on hand, and be familiar with the content of those issues, and the monthly sections in particular. By doing so, you’ll know basic things, such as the fact that we focus on black-owned franchises in September, rank the nation’s largest black-owned companies in every June issue, and begin looking for nominees for the Black Enterprise Small Business Awards in the fall, with finalists profiled in the May issue of Black Enterprise in the Small Biz section. The more familiar you are with Black Enterprise, the better you will understand what editors are looking for, which types of stories are sought for which sections, and how to best position your company for consideration.

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  • SM

    I understand that the mistakes, lack of research/ due-diligence is annoying..
    But you are saying it’s more about YOU, your egos and whether or not someone spells your name correctly, than about ideas, a great business model, or a solid track record of some lesser known company ?
    There are plenty of business people who run great businesses, who aren’t –let’s say, Harvard or HBCU english grads. Yet, these grammar deficient folks run terrific small enterprises just the same.

    Is your staff that self-involved? Is it about business and news? or is it about your fragile, self involved egos?
    Grow up.

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  • I made no references at all to proficiency with grammar or level of education. It is basic professional courtesy to pay attention to details such as the correct name spellings and titles of the people you do business with. It doesn’t take a Harvard or HBCU English degree–or even a high school diploma–to take the time to simply look it up.

  • One more thing: no amount of proficiency with grammar will help when it comes to correctly spelling people’s names or using their correct titles.

  • Alfred I got what you were saying in your message and I appreciate your tips. Details are very important…

  • TK

    Wow, this is interesting. It seems as though it’s easier to get into a larger mainstream magazine like Inc. or Forbes. I’ve always been a big fan of BE. But, after reading this I really aspire more to get my business into, Inc. Forbes or Success Magazine with a larger audience for more exposure. Contrary to beliefs, those magazines want good minority businesses in their magazines. It’s great PR for them and it gives you a great deal of exposure. I’m not saying it’s a piece of cake getting in them. I know it takes work. Thanks so much for the input. It was a great help and I’m sure alot of people will find it very infomative.

  • Thanks for this great list of tips that are relevant for freelance writers, PR folks and small businesses trying to get some exposure on their own. It echoes what successful freelance writers and editors at any newspaper or magazine will tell you: details, proofreading, research and appropriate content and context matter, whether you’re pitching a major national outlet or a small, community paper. Keep the pitch short and interesting and make sure it answers for the editor: what’s in it for my readers and why should they care? Thanks Mr. Edmond and BE. On point as usual.

  • I write for the business section of a major metro daily (the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), and I can attest that business owners and their PR people make the same mistakes with us that they do with BE editors. In fact, for several months now, I have been taking notes for a manual for PR people, to be titled something like, “Don’t Do This!” When I write it, may I cite you?

  • Absolutely. Thanks for the “amen.”

    • Thank you so much, this article was very informative and will be a great asset to many. Having the correct spelling of the person you wish to do business with should be a given. As you stated a masters degree is not needed to search for the correct spelling of a persons name.

  • Henry

    Great job as always Mr. Alfred A. Edmond Jr. Your articles are always poignant, witty and always professional. Keep up the good work!

  • Hello Alfred, details are very important, and it appears almost as sloppy unprepared work not to even have a person name correct
    thanks again for the great tips

  • Anastasia

    Mr. Edmond –

    I greatly value the information you have provided in this story. As a budding entrepreneur myself I am quite keen on taking the advice of seasoned professionals in the industry. I do however want to encourage caution when advising others on attention to detail when it appears that your own editor failed to catch the misuse of “you’ll” or the presence of “to” in the phrase: “and what you’ll not likely to ever see” on the 10th line of this page’s paragraph. Human error aside, helpful and smart words from a man I know knows his stuff.


  • Anastasia

    Oh wait, shame on me, you’re the editor-in-chief so then you wouldn’t have had an editor, would you…?

  • I would have to agree with Alfred Edmond, Jr. 🙂 on this one. When sending correspondence out to decision makers, I send it to 3 or 4 people for proofing and grammar check. As you said, you only get one chance to make that first impression. The few extra minutes to the details can and will make or break the opportunity you are seeking.

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