Long Lead vs. Short Lead

By: Gina Mason

Timing is everything in PR and in order to score that big media placement your timing must be right on or else you may lose the opportunity. One common misconception is that getting media placements in those nationwide publications can be done right away. Often times, new clients will say to us “I want to be featured in next month’s edition of GQ magazine, can you make that happen?” As much as we would love to deliver on our client’s request, pitching those publications can be very time sensitive and can require planning months in advance.

In order to see results from your pitch, you must be cognizant of the writer’s editorial calendar, time and deadlines. There are different types of publications (print & digital) and each has different deadlines in terms of pitching. As PR professionals, we distinguish those publications and our pitches as long and short leads.

Long Lead
Long lead outlets are primarily print magazines and those reporters are usually working on stories anywhere from 3-6 months in advance. National magazine like Allure and Men’s Health take a long time to create, edit and publish so they work months in advance so they have plenty of time to make any changes before going to print. Many of these long lead outlets also follow an editorial calendar or publishing schedule which usually maps out what each edition of the magazine is going to feature for the year (i.e. the July edition of Food & Wine may feature 4th of July BBQ recipes).

Every publication has a different calendar, so be sure to check it out on their website prior to pitching.

Here is an example of SELF’s editorial calendar:
http://www.condenast.com/brands/self/media-kit/print/calendar

Notice that the July issue closes on May 1st. That means that your pitches must be submitted at least a month in advance (more like two) before that May 1st so deadline the reporter has enough time to conduct interviews, fact check any information and submit the story to their editor.

Short Lead
Short lead outlets are daily/weekly newspapers & magazine, blogs, and news websites that do not require pitching that far in advance. Depending on the type of outlet, pitches for short lead publications can usually be done around a month in advance (sometimes even less). However, timing is still important to consider when pitching short lead publications since reporters are most likely on a tighter deadline.

Here is an example of a great timeline for pitching typical long and short lead holiday ideas:

• New Year’s Resolution – long lead pitch in September, short lead pitch up to end of December
• Valentine’s Day – long lead pitch in November, short lead pitch up to mid-February
• Easter – long lead pitch in December, short lead pitch up to April
• Christmas – long lead pitch in August, short lead pitch up to end December

Tailoring your pitches for long and short lead publications is extremely important. You should be sure to do your homework on each outlet to ensure that you get the placement you desire and most importantly, to make sure that you aren’t wasting a reporter’s time. Happy Pitching!

As always, I welcome your comments or questions and if you like what you read be social and share.

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