So you want to get your projects published. Why?
It’s great for exposure and marketing. You can use print articles as an extension of your showroom for clients to get ideas, to learn design terminology, and to help you learn what clients do and don’t like; you can use it to show architects.
But take advantage of the longevity of print publications, which often sit on coffee tables in homes but also in doctor’s waiting rooms, salons, and fitness studios. Buy a bunch of issues and slap a banner on them with your logo and some text that reads: “Check out the local home remodeled by YOUR COMPANY featured on page X”
And, of course, most print publications have a web presence, where your work—and links to your company’s website—will live forever.
RESEARCH YOUR OPTIONS
There are local and national publications that are always looking for content. Head to your local bookstore and buy a bunch of magazines and study them. Ask yourself if your project might be a good fit. You wouldn’t contact Dog Fancy with your latest kitchen remodel—unless it has a fantastic dog bowl area and they actually publish stories about such things.
Think about who the reader is going to be and who your ideal client is. Where do those two intersect?
You’d be surprised how many local publications there are in your market—from newspapers to business journals, women’s weeklies, and food-focused magazines. And don’t discount association publications from NARI and NAHB, but also those for related industries: doors and windows, concrete, metal fabricators.
Then read the articles themselves and determine how they’re put together and what they focus on. Are written about the lifestyle of the owner? Do it Yourself carpentry? The biggest, the best, the first of its kind, only a particular room?
You ultimately want to make things easy for an editor to see that, yes, your project/story is going to be something their readers will be interested in.
THINK LIKE AN EDITOR
Have an idea about what makes a good story. Come up with a hook. “We had to design and build a kitchen for a homeowner who is in a wheel chair.” “Our client’s daughter was going to be married in two months and they wanted a quick kitchen pick-me-up so we did cabinet refacing.” Think about packages: “5 storage options” “kitchens with fireplaces,” “poolside outdoor kitchens.”
Pay attention to lead times. If you built a special Christmas tree closet for a client, don’t pitch that story to a monthly magazine on December 1. Even newspapers might budget time for a story like that a few months in advance. Pitch an outdoor living story in January, a winter holiday story in September.
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP
Look on the publication’s masthead to find the appropriate editor—and it’s not the editor-in-chief. You most likely want to contact a senior editor, writer, or contributing writers or editors. There might be a specific editor for the type of material you want to have published. In a national publication, get the name of the regional editor near you.
Call or email and establish a relationship with that person. In many cases, they are hungry for material. Offer to take that person to coffee and show them photos of your projects, help them understand the scope and scale and level of design involved; take them on a tour of your most recent project.
Even if it doesn’t turn into something right away, keep up the relationship. The publication might not need anything right now, but your new editor friend will have your name and might call on you as a source for another story. Or, he or she might know that in a few weeks the publication needs 10 contemporary baths. It’s good for them to have contacts in the architecture and design community.
If you can swing it, you should have professional photos taken of your projects, or at least of a few projects a year. A lot of local publications don’t have a big photo budget, so great pictures will help your cause.
Large, national publications like Better Homes & Gardens will send a photographer to a location if they want to feature the story. But you should have some photos to show an editor. If it’s a remodel, before and after photos are great. If you take them yourself, stage the scene: clear the cold cream off the counter, hang the towels neatly. Take before and after shots from the same angle. Take some exteriors and interiors—depending on what story you want to tell. Make sure the photos show enough of the space. Don’t just take tight detailed shots because they look cool. --Stacey Freed is a senior editor at REMODELING. This article is based on a presentation Freed gave at the 2013 Remodelers Advantage Business Summit in Las Vegas in late September.