How I Became An Entrepreneur Contributor, Overnight

Today was magical! An article I wrote was published in the digital version of Entrepreneur Magazine. Yep, the one that gets 14mm unique visitors every month.  [Happy dance!]

Stephanie Nivinskus In Entrepreneur Magazine

No, I don’t have friends at Entrepreneur that did me a ‘favor.’  And nope, I have not written for any other A-list publications. But somehow, some way, I still became an Entrepreneur contributor, literally overnight!

Tons of people have been asking how I did it. This is for them. And it’s for you, too, if getting published in a magazine like Entrepreneur is on your bucket list.

Believe me, I nearly passed out when I received an email from the editor telling me she wanted to run my story. No, really. You see, while I felt like I had written a decent article (yes, I wrote it first and pitched it second), I was acutely aware of the fact that I was a rookie. And honestly, while I really hoped I’d get a response to my pitch, I really didn’t believe I would.

But I did. In fact, I sent my query at the end of the day on Wednesday–5:03 PM, to be exact. The very next morning, at 6:07 AM, this glorious email landed in my inbox. It took all of 13 hours and 4 minutes outside of normal working hours to get this reply and throw me into a complete state of elation!

Since I am a rookie at this PR stuff, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I did (or didn’t do) that made this work. I’ve narrowed it down to 5 key action steps:

I Invested In A VIP Session With A Publicist

I’ve been in marketing for a long time. In fact, it’s really the only thing I’ve ever done. While I know a lot about marketing and I have a degree in journalism, I am the first to admit I know very little about PR specifically. That’s why knew I had to get some one-on-one time with a successful publicist if I was ever going to make my dream of getting published in an A-list magazine come true. I needed someone that could tell me the who, what, when, where and why in today’s PR world (which is vastly different from what I learned when I was in college in the early 90’s). I chose to work with Kristi Dosh who always says, “It Doesn’t Matter How Good You Are At What You Do If No One Knows You Do It.” [Gulp. Reality check!]  I’d been following her online for a bit and she struck me as both knowledgeable and approachable–a rare find in an industry riddled with arrogant, “I don’t have time for mere mortals” people.

During my VIP session with Kristi we:

  • crafted my expert statement (yep, you’ve got to claim your expert status if you want to play the PR game).
  • wrote my first pitch (funny enough, NOT what I ended up using for Entrepreneur, although I did follow the same format).
  • crafted my pitch list (a list of publications/podcasts that were perfectly aligned with my message and very likely to show interest in what I have to share with the marketplace.)

Kristi sells both half and full day VIP sessions and quite frankly, it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my business. If you’re intrigued, you should find out how she can help you.

I Scoured The Internet For Trending Stories

There’s something in PR-land called “news jacking” and it works quite well. Basically, you piggy back on an existing story that’s getting a lot of traction and offer your unique take on it.

There are lots of ways to find trending stories. Here are a few:

  • Look at the right side of the page next time you log into Facebook. You’ll see something like this image (below) that says “Trending” at the top. Notice the little icons to the right. You can find stories trending in a variety of categories by searching all of them. The story I wrote was based on a trending topic I found in the default tab. If you log into Twitter, you’ll see something very similar, on the left side of the page.Image of Trending Stories On Facebook
  • Click here to find out what’s trending on YouTube
  • If you want to check a multitude of social media sites all at one time, look no further than Buzzsumo. This site is pretty much the holy grail of trending topics because it allows you to see how many shares different topics have received to date. And it also allows for some pretty sweet filtering for those of you that are laser-focused.
  • I’ve never been keen on Reddit–frankly because the visual appeal is next to nil and I find it pretty overwhelming to sort through. Nonetheless, if you want to know what’s hot or even better, what’s about to be very hot, look no further than right here. I’ve heard many experts tell me things like, “if it’s hot on Reddit today, it will be hot everywhere else tomorrow.”

I Found A Trending Story I Could Weigh In On

There are always plenty of trending stories that I really can’t speak to. Yet, when I saw the story about the BBC Dad, I knew I had something to share. I’m a work-from-home parent myself and my 4 kids only want my undivided attention when I’m on a fierce deadline for work.  So, could I relate to Robert Kelly’s scenario? You bet’cha. There were hundreds of stories I could not relate to, but this one had my name all over it. It was my golden nugget. You can find your golden nuggets as well, sometimes you just have to dig a little bit. And you have to think creatively about how you can add new insights to already trending stories.

I Identified The Editor

One of the things that’s great about having a VIP session with Kristi is that you walk away with a pitch list in hand. That’s right. She’s already done the heavy-lifting in this department and she has an expansive database. During your VIP session with her, she’ll identify 20-25 outlets where your target audience hangs out and then she’ll give you the contact info you need to reach the decision-makers with whom you want to connect.

There are two other ways to identify editors. In some cases, these are more labor-intensive and in others, they are not always accurate; however, it can’t hurt to try if you’ve got more time than money to invest.

1) Subscribe to HARO (free) and make a spreadsheet of writers/editors that cover topics to which you could contribute. It’s going to take a while to build up a list that’s worth anything and you’re not going to get their direct email addresses, but do a little investigative work and you can surely find them via social media if you’re willing to put in the time.

2) Subscribe to Cision. I won’t lie: it’s pricey, it’s not always accurate and it’s really meant more for professional publicists, but it is is an option.

I Sent My Pitch AND My Article

Want a copy of the EXACT, word-for-word pitch I sent the editor? You can get it, here.

And the article I sent? Well, it’s almost exactly what they published, less just a few word changes made by the editor.

Now, some of you may wonder why I took the time to write the article rather than waiting for the editor to express interest and THEN investing my time into this. Let me ‘splain. When you’re newsjacking, there is no time to waste. The editors don’t have the luxury of waiting for your submission, regardless of how compelling your pitch is. The story is trending now. They need your article now. Enough said.

Once I sent it, I waited. And prayed. And then I went to sleep for the night. And when I woke up, I could have sworn I was still dreaming when I saw they wanted to run the story, but I wasn’t. Sometimes dreams really do come true.

I hope this post has both inspired and equipped you to get your own stuff published. If you’ve already been published and you have additional insights to share, please post a comment. And if you haven’t but you’re going to go for it, post something about that, too. We’re all in this entrepreneurial journey together. Let’s play big.




Comments 4

  1. Stephanie, thank you for taking the time to share how your success was achieved. You are a wonderful giving person. This is great information and provides insight into a confusing marketplace.

    Congratulations on your success.

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