Lisa Tant on what makes a brilliant product pitch

Every day, FLARE‘s offices – and our inboxes – are flooded with pitches from public relations firms and companies pitching us updates and new products. I could write a book about the most effective ways to catch our attention but, instead, I’ll divide it up into a couple of blogs over the next few months. Here are the basics of what we’re looking for:

1. Do you have the right magazine?
FLARE features fashion and beauty for style-conscious Canadian women. The best pitches speak directly to our reader. For example, while many of our readers are also mothers, we rarely cover children’s fashion or food trends. Those pitches are best suited to our sister publications, Today’s Parent and Chatelaine.

2. Is your timing right?
It may be early February but we’re wrapping up our spring coverage. This week, we’re working on the layouts for our April issue. Our editors are writing copy and shooting stories for our May issue. Our next issue, June, is all about summer. If you wanted to catch their attention for great spring fashion and beauty ideas, you should have sent the majority of your pitches in late fall 2009.

3. It’s never too late for a great idea.
If something amazing comes across our desk but it’s too late to get into the magazine, we can also cover it on or Twitter. Just make sure the news is highlighted.

4. Make sure you send your pitch to the right person.
Check the masthead of our latest issue to make sure your release gets to the right person. That will save you a lot of time for follow-up.

5. Snail mail or email?
I cringe when I see the amount of paper and mailing supplies that flood into the office. Some times, it’s crucial – such as sending a new cosmetic to our beauty team. But other times, an email is much better. The only issue? Be direct with your pitch. It’s easy for a time-pressed editor to just hit ‘delete’ if your message doesn’t stand out.

6. Call or email follow up?
A quick email is usually sufficient. Contrary to the old saying, the squeaky wheel does not get the grease. ie – If you constantly phone an editor asking when your product will be featured, she will likely start avoiding your calls. We rarely confirm if we’re using a product in case of last minute changes.

I’ll be back again next week. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter