If you want to get your fabulous food business into trade and consumer magazines, then here’s a PR secret to help you plan ahead – go and grab their forward features list!
Despite what other fancy agencies might tell you, PR doesn’t depend on you having a little black book full of contacts. Editors and journalists running magazines NEED help from fab foodies like you to make each issue interesting for their readers, which is why they often give you the heads up about what they need in advance.
So what is a forward features list?
Googling the words ‘forward features list’ (also known as an editorial features list) with the name of the magazine you’re looking for, can vastly help you to plan your PR.
This list maps out the content that’s been planned for the whole year and often includes the submission dates. This is really important because magazines can work anywhere from 3-6 months in advance for a monthly, or 6-8 weeks in advance for a weekly.
This is why I keep (lovingly) nagging you about planning ahead – there’s nothing worse than you having the ideal Christmas/Mother’s Day/Easter gift or recipe that would be a great fit for a particular publication, only for you to suggest it weeks after they’ve already wrapped up that issue. As much as they like it, they’re not going to rejig their content to fit it in!
What does a forward features list look like?
You usually download a PDF of features and dates which you can either pin-up or, add the dates to your free PR planner (I’d plump for that option if I was you 😉 ). Sometimes it’s available as part of a media pack which is a PDF full of pages telling you facts and figures about the magazine in the hope that they can sell you some advertising. Sometimes it’s displayed directly on a page on the magazine’s website.
FMCG magazine gives you a full forward features list on their website, here’s a snapshot below along with deadlines:
June 2017 Issue
Focus on: Ready Meals / Food Production & Manufacturing
Submissions Deadline: Friday 20th April 2017
July 2017 Issue
Focus on: Ice Cream / Forecourts/ Petrol Convenience Retail
Submissions Deadline: Friday 26th May 2017
August 2017 Issue
Focus on: Premium Ales, Ciders and Spirits / Festival catering
Submissions Deadline: Friday 23rd June 2017
Eat Out magazine has a separate forward features list for each month and is actually looking for content for two publications – Eating Out magazine and Cost Centre Catering, giving you double the chance to find content that might be a good fit for your products.
Fine Food Digest has a forward features list PDF you can download with the editorial features list at the top, and all of the media bumpf underneath.
What happens next?
Most forward features lists will also have a contact email address so that you send your pitch to the right person.
Wherever possible, try to send your pitch to a named person rather than a generic email like firstname.lastname@example.org as it’s more likely to get opened.
A quick Google or Twitter search will usually throw up the right person to send to if you’re not sure.
Do your homework
Try and look at one previous issue at least of the magazine to see what the feature you want to pitch to looks like. Make notes about the info they use and any images, then use this as the basis for your (short!) pitch email. The more helpful and straight to the point you can be, the better your chances with a busy journo!
Not every publication has a forward features list, especially if they are reactive to the daily news, but it’s always worth a look. The most successful PR for your fab foodie business is popping up in lots of places over the year, so add this to your PR strategy and let me know how you get on!