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The Importance of Submissions & Getting Published

By Tayler Hollman, Director of Marketing at Aisle Planner and Katherine Oyer, Director of Public Relations at Aisle Planner

The internet is a beautiful thing. Just think - engaged couples from all over the world can stumble across your work, take a liking to your style, and can shoot you a quick email to say hello all within a 15-minute span. Talk about a quick booking conversion! Even better, the boundaries of needing to plan within the same city or nearby town have been eliminated, especially with the move to cloud-based software to manage all of you and your client’s needs.

An endlessly large potential client database does not come without its challenges. The most obvious, is tackling the issue of HOW these couples will find you. There are many social platforms to show off your work, from Instagram to Facebook, your own company blog, even utilizing Pinterest to upload images of your past weddings for others to repin as inspiration. This can all be rather tricky to truly know if you’re getting in front of the right people and growing the right following. At the end of the day, you may have the most beautifully curated Instagram feed, but if no one knows to search for you, you’ll never be found.

While a presence on each of the major social platforms is important, it’s equally, if not more important, to go where couples’ eyes are assembling in mass amounts, patiently waiting to discover their vendor partners: wedding blogs and publications.

The benefits of an editorial spotlight are not to be undervalued. Click-throughs to your website will increase, you will gain new followers, and your SEO value for sites like Google will grow. Each and every time.

Getting published? Easier said than done. Major publications and wedding blogs receive hundreds and hundreds of submissions on a weekly basis and only accept about 5% for publication. So, when you’re assembling your submission package it’s very important to put together a well thought out and well written pitch to go along with those beautiful images from your photographer. It requires that you understand the opportunity from a holistic perspective.

Submitting your work for publication, regardless of whether it’s for online or print, is public relations. You create a pitch, reach out to publishers or industry influencers, and cross your fingers that you put together a story they’ll swoon over. But, unless you went to school and studied communications or PR, chances are you’re flying a little blind on the deeper steps behind the pitch process. Here are a few tips that will help build your skills, and land you that oh so important coverage.

Public Relations is About Relationships

Public relations is about selling yourself as a story and, if you have any friends who work in sales, they’ll tell you that selling isn’t about convincing someone to buy from you, it’s about building a relationship with them. Whether your submission was accepted the first go around or whether it has been declined for the fourth time, make an effort to get to know the people on the other end of the conversation. Always ask for feedback and constructive criticism, so you can learn how to focus your submission for the next time. Additionally, be sure to ask if there is anything in particular they are looking for in the future. Publications and media outlets publish at a crazy pace and are always looking for “easy” content. Work to build relationships with the editors so you can be their go-to for content gaps or featured posts.

PR is About Storytelling

This is where it gets meaty. In order to successfully represent yourself, you have to know not only the story you are pitching but the story of your brand. What are your goals? Who is your audience? What are you trying to accomplish with your pitch? You have to know the answers to these questions before you can figure out where you can get the most return off of a feature. Take 30 minutes, sit down with your favorite notebook, and think about a couple things.

Who is your ideal client? What publications do they read? How many weddings do you want to book this year? Do you want to travel for work? How do you define your brand and services?

The answers to these questions will help you find the right publications to pitch to because “any publicity is good publicity” only gets you so far. It’s important to put yourself in front of the right audience (the people that might actually hire you) and not just in front of ANY audience. So, seek out features in the publications that speak to the types of clients you want to attract.

The bonus benefit to being featured? Good PR builds credibility. Why do we all download and post “Featured On” badges on our websites? Because of the credibility it brings. You work really hard and understand the value of having your brand associated with some of the biggest names in the industry – that’s why you want be featured in their publications.

Successfully pitching your work to a major publication or media outlet builds your brand recognition and widens your reach. And why is that good for you? Because people trust brands that they recognize. Having your work shared in magazines, in blogs, and on social media amplifies your brands voice. When you are published, a tiny bit of the pressure is off to legitimize your brand or business because you essentially are getting a seal of approval.

Never let the back end work to build the pitch turn you away from sending consistent work to the blogs and publications you’ve identified as a fit for your brand. Remember, each blog out there needs someone to feature each and every day of the year. It’s only a matter of connecting at the right time. So get out there, look through your photo archives, craft the perfect submission, and find your next dream client!