Courting Media Coverage for Your Design Business

By Linda Merrill
Courting Media Coverage for Your Design Business

Simple dos and don'ts for pitching your designs and business to media outlets.

It's what all businesses want and need – media coverage. But how is it that some people always seem to get their names in print and others, regardless of how talented they are, seem to miss out? From my experience on both sides of the fence, I can say that the simple answer is that those who garner more press coverage just make things easier for the journalist or publication than those who don't. Simply put: be prepared.

What does this mean? Product and story pitches are brief, clear and enticing. This means a quick and friendly email, a high quality but low-res image or two and a brief story pitch. The journo (or blogger, editor, etc) should be able to get the idea in a glance without having to suss out the information. Attached documents are time consuming to deal with and requesting that the recipient reply to learn more is rarely going to return many results. Let's face it, we're all busy and we all appreciate when our time is respected and things are made easier. If what you're pitching meets the immediate need of the journalist, you will likely hear from them. The pitch might be filed for future reference, or trashed. A quick check-in a week or so later is fine, but never be a pest or ask why they didn't respond – no one likes to be put on the spot.

Over the years, I received many calls and emails from journalists looking for quotes, photographs of work or expert opinions on one subject or other. They may have known me in person or found my website and thought I could help them out. If you want press coverage, never keep someone waiting for a return call. All journalists are on deadlines and it’s common to get a call from someone who has less than a day until their piece is due. If you're not available quickly, they will move on. If you're not in a position to answer their query, offer to find someone who is. You may have a design colleague who specializes in what the journalist is looking for and you’re doing them a big favor – which will be remembered.

Courting Media Coverage for Your Design Business

Because "home" is an emotional concept, nearly all home articles have a story to tell. There are lots of pretty rooms, but it's the ones that convey a story that get covered. I once received a telephone call from a writer who was doing a story on "green", meaning environmentally-friendly kitchens. She'd done a web search and found my website via my blog. I'd been doing blog posts on painting my kitchen cabinets green and in the weird and wacky way the search engines work, the word green was all that was needed to bring my work to her attention. While I couldn't help with her story at hand, I made a point of engaging her in conversation which resulted in her telling me to send any other project ideas her way if I had any.

Well, as a matter of fact, I did! A recently photographed project was just waiting to be covered and I had a complete story concept (mixing high and low purchases to stretch the budget dollars) at the ready. She asked me to send her some photos and after she finished her kitchen story, she'd take a look. The story was published in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine within two months.

If you want media coverage for your work, products or expertise, you need to be prepared.

  • Headshots. Have a good quality, relatively up to date, color photograph available in high and low resolution at the ready. Candid shots are usually not good enough for print purposes.

  • Product photography. All products need to have professional quality photography in high and low resolutions.

  • Designed spaces. Well shot scouting images or professionally shot final images should be available in high and low resolutions.

  • Have your pitch ready. For each project finished, have an idea of a story pitch that might be enticing for a particular publication. This could be a color story, something about the homeowners, or any other "angle". Things might go in a completely different direction, but have some talking points ready just in case.

A final note about getting published in a glossy magazine: through the interviews I've held on my blog and on The Skirted Roundtable podcasts, every editor-in-chief we've spoken to has said that they welcome project pitches directly from designers. With limited budgets, the magazines simply can't send scouts out to every corner of the country, but it doesn't mean that they aren’t interested in great projects from all over.

So, make it easy for them to find you by submitting and seeing what happens. Of course, there are some rules. Your project should be an editorial "fit" with the publication you are pitching. Traditional Home is not as likely to focus on a post-modern dwelling, nor is Dwell likely going to feature a lot of Chippendale. But if you feel your project is the perfect fit for a specific publication, submit and see what happens. The worst thing is a no, but at least they've gotten to know you a little bit, and the next submission may just get the nod.

Creating Buzz for Your Brand

Editor's Note: If you're in the Beverly Hills/Los Angeles area, be sure to attend our Creating Buzz for Your Brand event on Thursday, October 25, 2012 from 6 to 9 PM. You'll have an exclusive opportunity to meet with industry insiders. We still have room available, so RSVP here! Our experts include:

  • Elizabeth Blitzer, PR Expert & Owner, Blitzer & Co.
  • Paul Costello, Photographer, Domino, Travel + Leisure
  • David Netto, Interior Designer & Writer, David Netto Designs
  • Lauren Goodman, Style and Fashion Consultant, Fashion Director, 7X7 Magazine
  • Lilo Diallo, Founder, online magazine Billie

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Linda Merrill is a residential interior decorator based in Massachusetts. Linda's design style can be described as "comfortable luxury" and she believes in working closely with clients throughout the entire design process. Her clients are mainly located between metro-Boston and Cape Cod and the Islands. Linda writes a nationally regarded design blog called ::Surroundings:: and is the host of the design podcast series The Skirted Roundtable.