In late June of 2016 an editor of Southern Cottage Magazine reached out to me after seeing photos I posted a few years ago on Houzz with my personal home decorated for Christmas. They were looking for vintage, rustic, southern style décor to feature in their quarterly magazine to be released for the 2016 season. Unfortunately the set of photos that were posted online were not large jpg files and neither I nor Lance, the photographer had saved the full size files. This was a huge lesson for me in that you never know who is searching for content on line and if you feel that the photos you share could potentially make a magazine or other periodical feature then it’s super important to have the full size jpg files in order to provide to the publisher. They cannot enlarge smaller jpgs to fill a full size magazine page with the highest quality.
Fast forward after discovering neither of us had the full size files, Lance asked if I was ‘game’ to reshoot the photos one weekend in July (4th of July weekend). It would mean we would have to come up with a Christmas tree and bring much of our holiday décor down in the middle of a hot Texas summer to re-create some scenes from the shoot several years ago. We decided to go for it although the editor explained that there was “no guarantee” that the images would make the magazine. So with a 10 day deadline in mind, we pulled our resources, (Lance borrowed a beautiful faux tree from a friend who was kind enough to loan it to us) and we got busy decorating areas of my home to set the holiday scenes. It was a literal “Christmas in July”!
You can only imagine the mess with a Christmas theme. If people only knew what goes on behind the scenes of what we do as stagers daily, it won’t always seem so ‘pretty’ and organized. But you have to do what you have to do in order to get the results.
After shooting the images and sending them off to the editor, it took a couple weeks to get an answer back and indeed they wanted to use the images. I was contacted by the writer of the article and she sent me a list of questions to answer that supplied the content for the article that coincided with the photos. When the magazine was about to be released they sent a pdf of the final product (attached) and to our surprise it was a 10 page spread of the images and content! While I don’t offer holiday decorating services as a part of my staging menu, it will help my business to promote this spread for expertise and the national exposure it naturally brings. I learned many valuable lessons in this which I’ll share below:
- Always save the largest jpg files of your work when professionally photographed (this helps with magazine requests, awards submissions and just better looking photos online in general)
- Post your photos on all your social media platforms! Some are more highly trafficked than others. For instance Houzz and Pinterest may be great sites to post seasonal and staging content because home and garden magazine editors & TV producers comb these sites for content.
- Always tag your photos with key words that you want the images to be found in. For example; (vintage Christmas décor, rustic Christmas, Plano Home Stager, etc.) that way your content can be more easily searched and found especially when most everyone else IS NOT DOING IT!
- Always respond to media requests quickly and be open to being flexible if asked for content.
- Ask permission from your photographer! I really should say establish a great relationship with a professional photographer first so when opportunities like this arise you can cross promote them and get their name out there as well as your company’s.
- Generally these requests are not paid. However the free publicity and exposure are actually more valuable in my opinion than monetary payment.
Submitted by Karen Otto