Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Long Live The Freelancer: Top 5 Reasons They're Your BFF

As publicists and authors, we all have pie-in-the-sky ambitions for that book or author to land ink in a dream publication, often overlooking other opportunities that can be just as fruitful, sometimes more so.

Enter the freelancer. If you haven’t made one your BFF yet, you should. It’s true that sometimes, a freelancer will interview you before his/her story has gotten the green light from a publication – but this is rarely the case. Like most of us, freelancers are interested in getting paid, and want to devote their time to interviews that already have a publication behind them. So when a freelancing reporter approaches you and the story gets ink, it can mean big results. Just consider these five reasons why most publicists ardently seek out relationships with freelancers:

1. Most national magazines use them. Have you recently thumbed through your favorite magazine only to see numerous stories with the title “Contributing writer” or “special to Glamour” in the byline? You are probably reading a piece by a freelancer. National magazines actually source most of their writing assignments to freelancers, who are managed by a team of editors.

2. They likely work for more than one publication. Possibly the biggest value in a freelancer lies in the fact that they often work for more than one publication. So, instead of pitching your book/expertise to one staff writer who works for Shape you could instead pitch your story to a freelancer who writes for Shape, Glamour and Marie Claire. Bonus!
3. They’re more likely to keep you as a source. Because freelancers are writing stories for a variety of publications with a wide range of topics, they need a broader source list. Interview with a freelancer once and potentially be a repeat source down the road.

4. They are always looking for quotes. Be it a tip sheet they’re working on, a feature story or a round-up of “best books for Mother’s Day,” freelancers are always looking for expert sources to quote. This is a great opportunity for you to provide information about a given topic, which highly bolsters your credentials (ex: “Shelby Sledge has lent her publicity expertise to USA Today, GQ and CNN.com”).

5. Print publications turn to freelancers in a down economy. As the economy goes south, freelancers will be more heavily relied upon. Publications across the country have made staff cuts, and when that happens, the freelancer becomes king. Why? Well, it’s easier to pay a freelancer’s per-story fee than an in-house reporter’s annual salary. Many of the reporters who were recently laid off by major publications – think New York Times, Chicago Tribune, etc. – now command impressive freelance portfolios with great contacts. Befriend one, and you’ll have an “in” to the publications you covet.


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September 28, 2009 at 12:28 AM  

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