Elspeth Pridham is a journalist who specialises in writing about interiors. She is currently editor of The Insider website, aimed at interior design professionals. We asked her advice on the best route to getting projects featured in the press.
Elspeth Pridham, The Insider
It is valuable publicity for any interior design practice to have a project featured in the press, but what is the first step to achieving this goal?
First off, do your homework. It is important to pitch to a title that is compatible with your project. For instance, World of Interiors has a completely different look to Elle Decoration and they write about very different homes. Look at the magazines and check out previous projects on their websites to get an idea of who you should be targeting. And don’t forget there are also the newspaper supplements, they cover home interiors too.
Once we have a magazine in our sights, how do you suggest we pitch our project?
Find out who on the editorial team is in charge of the interior features. There may be a specific Houses Editor or it may be the Features Editor. You can usually find these listed in the magazine. But for best results, pick up the phone. Journalists receive hundreds of emails so to stand out, make that call. Tell them you have a project you think is of interest for their magazine and ask who is the best person to send it to. Editors are on the lookout for fresh content all the time, they have to fill the pages of their magazine every month, so don’t be shy about this, if you a have a lovely project they will be happy to hear from you.
Once we’ve made contact, how much detail do we have to go into with our pitch, do we have to write the text?
No, if the magazine wants to use your project they will assign a journalist to write the copy. The first step after you have made contact is to send a brief synopsis of the project – size of house, type of property, any outstanding features. And include a selection of low res jpeg images. Then wait, magazines tend to work three to six months in advance so don’t despair if you don’t hear back immediately.
You mentioned sending in jpeg images. Do we need to supply all of the photography to the magazine?
Some magazines like to shoot their own photography so if you don’t have images that's fine. Pitch the project anyway and just send in a few snaps, even if you take them with your phone, to give a visual reference. However, many magazines will rely on you to supply the photos, these need to be high resolution and taken professionally. If the copyright for the photography is with the photographer you must get his/her permission to use them in editorial. This is usually fine as long as the photographer is named – you just need to tell the magazine who to credit.
As well as the photographer do we need permission from the client?
Yes, not only is it a courtesy to tell them that you are considering their home for use in your marketing, but you don’t want to fall foul of GDPR legislation.
Perhaps photography is something you can discuss with your client right from the start. Find out if they are happy to have the project photographed and have a written agreement as to where those images can be used – on your website, social media, press, etc. If they are happy for you to pitch the project to the press, ask if they wish to remain anonymous or if they would be happy to talk to a journalist. Some magazines like to interview the homeowner and show them in the photography, but they will also accept a great project even if your client does not wish to appear personally.
Do you have any tips on what to include in the photos when we are arranging a shoot?
Pets! I know editors who will feature a kitchen on the front cover just because there is a dog in the shot. Dogs and cats help make a house look like a home, so if there is an obliging pet take one photo with and one without so the editor has a choice. In terms of what not to include, avoid anything seasonal. No Christmas trees, pumpkins or Easter eggs. If your shoot is too seasonal it limits its usability to the magazines.
For security reasons, be cautious about showing anything that might identify the property, for instance, distinctive architecture or a house number. And avoid contemporary works of art as, if they are the original, the copyright may still be with the artist rather than the owner (a minefield too complicated to go into here). Simply remove them for the shoot or photoshop them out afterwards.
And finally, try to offer exclusivity. Magazines are very competitive and you are unlikely to see your project used in House & Garden if it has already appeared in the Sunday Times. When you make your initial pitch to the editor be sure to mention that they can have the images exclusively.