Long Leads & Earned Media – Editorial Calendars are Not Just for Paid Media

Earned media is a critical element in any PR plan, but you have to work for it. One frequently overlooked opportunity to increase earned media hits is utilizing editorial calendars for magazines and other weekly publications, to secure ongoing opportunities to showcase thought leadership. The long and short of it: this is what we call long-lead media.

Believe it or not, it’s already time to start thinking about long-lead media outreach for next year. To support your PR planning, we pulled together these essential strategic guidelines on long-lead media and editorial calendars to help you earn big PR wins in 2020.


Tools of the Trade

Before we dive into how to make long-leads work for your earned media strategy, let’s look at two key definitions:

 Long-lead media are weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or longer-term publications, which often produce content three to six months out. That means when you’re trying to get a product in the Back to School guides, you need to start pitching in April or May. Holiday gift guides? Start pitching in July or August – bringing a new meaning to Christmas in July.

Editorial calendars for publications help you identify opportunities to pitch. Initially intended to help advertisers plan their creative content and budgets, PR teams can leverage information on each issue’s theme. For instance, if the editorial calendar says an issue’s theme is commercial real estate, the largest sections of the publication will concentrate on that theme. Armed with this insight, you can pitch relevant story ideas, bylines or expert sources and work to develop relationships with reporters and editors.

Long-lead media should be a cornerstone of your ongoing proactive media relations strategy. Why? There aren’t always opportunities to pitch stories in real-time or to capitalize on news hooks, but you can almost always find something to offer on long-lead articles. It’s truly a low-hanging fruit of media relations.

Editorial Calendars for PR

Getting started is easy:

  1. List the publications you’d like to be seen in.
  2. Download those publications’ editorial calendars online or request from their ad sales teams.
  3. Identify topics that align with your brand and your goals.
  4. Develop your pitches.
  5. Find the appropriate editor or reporter to connect with and go.

Pro Tip: We recommend pitching no later than three months before the opportunity.

Long-term Value of Pitching Long Lead Articles

The key to short- and long-term success is delivering consistently so reporters and editors see that you:

  • Provide relevant, objective content, not marketing content.
  • Help them fill editorial space with on-topic resources.
  • Deliver on time so they can publish the magazine on time.

When you leverage the editorial calendar, you create a win-win for you and a publication’s editors and reporters.

You are able to support thought leadership, raise the profile of experts, highlight expertise in a subject area and generally strengthen your brand. They are able to fill editorial space with quality content and sources they didn’t have to chase down. Longer-term, you build a relationship that makes it more likely they’ll contact you when short-term opportunities arise.

Now is the Time to Start
Capitalizing on long-lead opportunities is a PR tactic that works, so start outlining what opportunities there are for you in quarters one and two of 2020. When October rolls around, you’ll be ready to pitch for January/February issues.

After all, long-lead publications are already thinking about those issues – you want to be one of the first PR people in the conversation.