(As you know if you’ve been hanging around here for a bit, there is almost no kind of writing or editing I haven’t done over the years, with the exception of erotica and other icky or brutalizing stuff. So this is the deep voice of experience responding to a plea for help.)
THIS IS AN ACTUAL RECENT EXCHANGE ON THE FREELANCERS UNION SITE BETWEEN A NEWBIE AT THE BIZ AND THIS OLD SALT (MYSELF).
Perhaps it will be useful to others too.
Short, but to the point.
delete, revise, reprise …
“I am a feature writer for newspapers and magazines and I want to branch out to write for businesses and organizations. I am finding out about skills such as Search Engine Optimization and I’m wondering if anyone has done anyone who has done any PR writing knows of any other skills that would be helpful to acquire? Also, anyone who writes for business/non-profits – how do you reach out to potential clients?”
Skills you learn on the job. If you have a hot story idea and some clips to prove you’re legit, don’t be shy! Pick up the phone and just call editors. CALL THEM! If you exude enough confidence, they’ll put you through. Then you have less than 60 secs to pitch and convince them, so make it good. Do your homework on the mag or journal or newspaper. Prove you know their publication and know what they need to sell copies/get subs etc. I’ve gotten the editors of Forbes, the LA Times Book Review., Vanity Fair and the NYT, etc. on the line this way.
All editors need hot stories, skills (other than brilliant writing ability) can be tapped from staffers.
Not everything pans out, some eds are quirky and want tweets or smoke signals, or referrals, but if your pitch is irresistible (it must be true, do not stretch the facts!), you have introduced yourself and now have a new valuable connection you can call again.
Go for voice communication over texts, tweets or email, if at all possible.
Sound knowledgeable, intelligent, articulate–and in a hurry. Other editors are just dying to have a crack at this piece of yours! No time to spare!
Don’t leave a message unless it is so compelling, shocking and newsworthy the editor HAS to call you back.
You can do it, so prep thoroughly and make the calls. Good luck.