Ten years ago or so, thought leadership opportunities in the business media world were somewhat prevalent.
You could pitch bylined ideas to publications like Harvard Business Review, Forbes and Fortune and, given you were somewhat competent, you had a chance.
In the media relations world, this was huge because a big part of our value is getting clients into big-time publications like these.
However, in 2019, I think those opportunities are shrinking. Which is surprising given newsrooms are smaller than ever, and you would think editors at these publications would be interested in anything that made their jobs easier.
But, on the other side of the coin, I think it’s fair to point out the huge influx of PR people in our industry–especially when compared with our media counterparts. Last year, Muck Rack pointed out that there are now SIX PR pros for every journalist.
If you work in PR, those aren’t great numbers because they highlight what’s now obvious: There’s a lot of PR people out there pitching the same few (and becoming fewer all the time) editors.
Here are just a few examples of what this looks like in action in 2019.
HBR used to be a publication you could get into. You had to pitch the editor your story idea. She would review it. Give you the thumbs up, and you’d go about writing it. It wasn’t crazy to get an article in HBR (I did it with my HealthFitness client in 2016).
But, over the last few years, HBR has changed their process. No longer do you pitch the editor (unless you have an existing relationship, that is). Now, you go through a more formal submission process. They even say right on that site that they get many more submissions than they can run–and that they have a rigorous editorial review process. It all just means there are way more hurdles to jump over to get into HBR in 2019. It’s not impossible, but man, it’s tough.
Or, what about Forbes? The publication, it seems, now completely devoted to contributed content. Sure, it still has content written by editorial staff, but if you’re looking to pitch thought leadership bylines or content–good luck. That’s now reserved for their “highly touted” contributors. Now, they do have a fair amount of people who are well-known in their fields writing these bylines–Ryan Holmes at Hootsuite comes to mind. But, I’ve also noticed a number of people I would call “questionable” penning bylines. Again, it all means it’s really, really hard to pitch thought leadership content to Forbes right now (my new approach–pitch the contributors on my topic!).
Finally, consider Fast Company. One of the pubs I’ve been trying to break into for years–sadly, without much success. But, it might not be a big surprise. Fast Co. certainly doesn’t make it easy. Let’s start with their site. Try to find a list of editor and reporters. Go ahead, I’ll wait 10 minutes. Didn’t find much, did you? You most likely need to subscribe to Cision or Muck Rack for that information (and even then, it’s not always accurate). Pitching thought leadership content to Fast Co. is pretty damn hard.
I don’t know–maybe this is just sour grapes on my part since I’ve struggled to break in with these pubs the last few years. But, I had decent success before. I do feel like things have changed.
So, I pose the question to you: If you work in the B2B space, have you noticed more challenges trying to get thought leadership placements with these bigger business pubs? I’d love to hear about your experiences.