How To Get Into Black Enterprise: Pitch The Right Editor

Hint: It's usually NOT the person at the top of the masthead

Judging from the volume of responses (both in terms of numbers and of passion) to the first few installments of my series of How To Get Into Black Enterprise posts, this latest installment is long overdue. Hopefully, you’ll find it to be worth waiting for, and as useful as the other posts in the series.

Let’s start with a simple question: When it’s time to pitch yourself or your business to Black Enterprise for a possible story, who do you send your information to?

Let me start by telling you who you shouldn’t send it to:

a. Everybody in the masthead of the magazine

b. The highest ranking person you can find on the masthead, or at Black Enterprise as a company, including the chairman and publisher, president and CEO, the editor in chief, and your’s truly.

As far as the first option goes, there is virtually no case where sending your press materials or story pitch to every person at Black Enterprise with the word “editor” in their title is appropriate, or even effective. When every editor on staff receives the same pitch, from the same person or company, at the same time, it tells us that 1) your pitch is not well thought out and focused and/or 2) you’re not all that familiar with Black Enterprise. Yet, you’d be surprised at how many people take this scatter-gun approach to suggesting themselves or their company for a possible story.

Now to be fair, there are some exceptions to the rule with the second option–for example, if our CEO specifically and directly asked you to send your information to him so that he could share it with our content team (or if you prefer the old school, pre-multimedia term, editorial staff). It’s rare, but it happens. However, in most cases, sending your information to say, me–or my counterpart with the magazine, Editor-in-Chief Derek T. Dingle–only means that you’re counting on us to read through your materials, and direct it to the appropriate member of our staff, who will ultimately be expected to decide whether or not it should be considered for the magazine. We always do it if we can, but it is highly time-consuming and inefficient, reducing the chance of your idea being considered in a timely fashion, especially given the high volume of correspondence we receive via both e-mail and snail-mail. (Not to mention phone calls and meetings. And Facebook. And Twitter. And producing a monthly magazine. And feeding this insatiable website every day. Deep breaths.) Believe me, it is far better for you to be able to target your communication directly to the appropriate person on the editorial staff, than to count on Derek or me to excel on your behalf as postal distributors.

So, let’s go back to the question at hand: Who at Black Enterprise do you send your information to if you want to be considered for a story? You find the answer to that question by asking another: What kind of Black Enterprise story do you want to be featured in?

Black Enterprise, as with most media products, breaks down its coverage into specific subject areas, and then assigns editors/content producers to manage coverage of those areas, including deciding who and what to cover when, and who should write the articles. If you’re familiar with Black Enterprise, then you know that we specialize in coverage of personal finance, small business and careers as primary areas of expertise, supplemented by coverage of technology, lifestyle and personal development. All you need to do is look carefully at the sections of the magazine, to see which content producer is responsible for which area of coverage. All other things being equal, that’s how you identify the right editor to pitch your idea to.

For example, let’s say you’ve just launched a hot new tech company, and you want to be featured in Black Enterprise. Go back to the question: What kind of story do I want to be featured in? Chances are, the answer is: a technology or small business story.

So you look at the bottom of the opening page of Black Enterprise magazine’s Tech section, and guess what? It’s currently edited by Alan Hughes, who is also named in the masthead as an editorial director. It even has his Twitter handle. Flip to the Small Biz section of the magazine, and you’ll notice at the bottom of the opening spread for the section that it says “Edited by Carolyn M. Brown,” along with her Twitter handle.

You know where I’m going: if you’re interested in being featured in a story about technology or small business, pitch your idea and send your information to Hughes and/or Brown. By being familiar with both Black Enterprise magazine (including the masthead found among the first pages of each issue) and BlackEnterprise.com, you’ll have all the information you need to make the best decision about which editors to pitch and how to pitch them, which will increase the chances of you achieving your goal: getting into Black Enterprise.

Other posts in this series:

How To Get Into Black Enterprise

How To Get Into Black Enterprise: Entrepreneurs, Take Note

How To Get Into Black Enterprise: What Not To Do

  • Great Tips.

    Consider how your story would be beneficial to a magazine’s readers and in what context.

    I think if people take a step back and hold on 5 mins they can find the right person and the right approach to pitch their idea.

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  • Thanks for the tip. I am a fan of Black Enterprise, and the fact that you took the time to write this article says that BE really wants to help entrepreneurs succeed. Or you really got tired of the mass emails flooding your inbox. I am going to go with the first one.

  • Where is the masthead for your pub on this website?

    • No masthead on this site. (At least not yet. Now you have me thinking.) You’ll find the right editor by scrolling down to the bottom of each of the landing pages on the site.

  • Thank you. I called up the LA office and no one could help me…lol! 

  • Thank you for this article and the tips!! I wanted to introduce myself, but did not want to be one of the million e-mails the wrong person receives each day. My plan was to check the editor for my area of expertise. I appreciate the confirmation of how you want to be contacted. Make it a great day! Kelly

  • Miko Lee

    Alfred, thanks so much for the tips. I am a PR professional, but also an avid reader of Black Enterprise–no joke. I read it faithfully. Anyway, we can all use a refresher from time-to-time. By the way, I loved last month’s issue with “Who Got Next.” I look forward to it every year. As a young, black professional, I can only dream that one day I can be on this cover as well :-). Thanks so much for a great publication, as always.

  • Hi Alfred,

    The first time I tried to get featured in EB, I was turned down because I had not made over 250.000.00.
    I am the CEO of Nestal Cosmetics, and with my letter I also sent samples of my products, I did not receive my products back nor a thank you note from the person that received them. So are you telling me things are different now?

    • Robin;

      While you need to have minimum gross sales of $250,000 to be featured in the Making It column of our Enterprise small business section, it is possible to be featured in other small business stories in BE with less than that amount.

      It is not customary for product samples to be returned by media outlets to a companies that have submitted such products as part of a media relations effort to secure coverage consideration (although if self-addressed, postage-paid packaging is provided, we will usually do so). Again, that is the exception, not the rule. Generally speaking, media outlets do not return unsolicited materials, including product samples. Nor are thank you notes sent for such materials.

      Check out another post in this series, “How To Get Into Black Enterprise: Entrepreneurs, Take Note,” for more details on what information businesses should be prepared to provide to increase the odds of being featured in BE.

  • On point…………………Fantastic thinking..

  • Sharon

    My daughter asked how does she get into BE when she starts a biz? I replied”I’m a LOYAL B more fan so just concentrate on being a success and they will find you!” Hi Alfred keep up the GRT work!!!! I see Mr. Graves is headed this way……

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