To prep for your meeting—or to guide anyone wanting to pitch our publication, whether a writer, designer, or PR agent—we put together seven handy tips for pitching stories to Dwell.
TIPS FOR PITCHING DWELL
1, Do your homework. Be familiar with the magazine, and tailor your pitch for our content and columns. Is it a Dwellings feature story? A Houses We Love? An Archive or Rewind? A product for our section In the Modern World? Know our magazine, and show it.
2, First looks. We like to be the first to see a project, and to secure exclusives on stories. We want our readers to see projects in Dwell for the first time—before they appear online or anywhere else. If you can offer us the exclusive, tell us that. If a project has appeared elsewhere already—whether in a big national publication or a small regional magazine or on a few blogs—tell us that. Prior publication isn't necessarily a no-go; if it's been published overseas or in a small regional magazine, we will still consider it. If it's appeared in the New York Times or Wallpaper—or has already been plastered all over blogs and Pinterest—that's a different story. Our content is always fresh and original.
3, Include photos! Or a link to a site where we can see more images. If you're pitching a residential project, we want to see an exterior shot and a handful of interior images—ideally showing the current, lived-in state of the residence. We never stage our photo shoots—see our Fruit Bowl Manifesto for more details on our ethos—and we are interested in showing how people really live in their homes, so it's critical that we see what the place looks like inhabited. Smartphone snapshots are fine for this purpose. Architectural, pre-move-in beauty shots are lovely, of course—but if you send only those images, you can be sure we'll immediately ask for lived-in shots as well.
4, Flesh it out. Give us the full story. If it's a residential project, who lives there, and what do they do? If the residents worked with an architect or designer, why did they choose him or her? What's the backstory? What were the design challenges, what were the creative solutions? Any interesting furnishings or artwork to mention? And don't forget the nitty-gritty: the square footage, key materials used, how many bedrooms? If it's a story about affordability, what was the per-square-foot cost? And, ideally, address whether the residents would be willing to be interviewed and photographed in their home for a Dwell story. (People are key to most of our house stories; we rarely run a story without identifying, interviewing, and photographing the residents).
5, Keep in mind our go-to themes. Our editorial calendar changes every year, but certain topics are of perennial interest to us. Every year we have issues dedicated to the following themes: Prefab; Small Spaces (especially projects under 1,000 square feet); Affordability (especially projects built for under $200 per square foot); and Modern Across America (awesome architecture in places you wouldn't necessarily expect to find it). We are also always looking for great renovations; iconic mid-century modern houses that have been brought sensitively up-to-date; stand-out interior design and furnishings; and designers' own homes. And, of course, we're always on the hunt for beautiful new furnishings, accessories for the home and outdoors, and clever and innovative products.
6, Why you? If you are a writer pitching a project, prove that you are the best person to write the story. Ideally you're a seasoned writer with great clips; special access to a project (examples: you've already seen it in person, or have been in touch with the architects, or live in the place it's located—or are about to travel there); and, equally importantly, have written a really strong pitch. (Simply follow these tips, and you'll be halfway there!). If you're an architect or a PR person, include a link to your firm's site, so we can see some previous projects.
7, Follow up! We editors are extremely busy creatures, with very full inboxes. If you don't hear back from us immediately, we are not ignoring or rejecting you. Don't hestitate to follow up a couple weeks later, re-sending your original pitch. We won't find you annoying, we promise. We'll be grateful!
We look forward to hearing from you!
When not writing, editing, or combing design magazines and blogs for inspiration, Jaime Gillin is experimenting with new recipes, traveling as much as possible, and tackling minor home-improvement projects that inevitably turn out to be more complex than anticipated.