SEMA News - June 2009

By Steve Campbell

How to Get Your Products Recognized by the International Media

Even a simple press release provides instant credibility with enthusiasts, and the chance to make a positive impression with an editor or producer can be greatly enhanced by targeting the promotional material both to the particular country or region as well as to a specific magazine, website or program.  
One of the most effective ways to market automotive specialty equipment is to obtain coverage in enthusiast media—magazines, websites and broadcast programs. Even the publication of a simple press release provides instant credibility with enthusiasts. But getting noticed in the morass of press packets, stories and brochures received on a daily basis by writers, editors and producers can be a frustrating and complicated task. All the more so when the publication services a different country.

At a seminar during the 2008 SEMA Show, two prominent international publisher/editors shared their top tips for getting coverage in global media. They offered candid advice about not only what to send, but how to send it—ranging from a basic product release to a complete turnkey article.

Zlatko Mulabegovic, founder, director and editor of Top Performance and Top Auto magazines in the United Arab Emirates, has written numerous editorials on developing the specialty-equipment market in Dubai and the Persian Gulf region. Top Performance focuses on the most well-known tuning platforms, while Top Auto is focused on more generalized tuning.

Eduardo Bernasconi is the founder and editor of Fullpower magazine in Brazil. He also runs a very popular consumer event called Extreme Motorsports, which featured about 100 exhibitors and drew about 60,000 attendees in its fifth year. Bernasconi recently opened an automotive studio that is designed to bring enthusiasts together to develop joint projects.

Be Relevant

Every publication, global or domestic, wants to receive a company’s most recent press materials regarding new or popular products, project cars, success stories and so on—but exclusivity is even better. If you can provide a magazine with information or a story that no other outlet in the region has yet received—and the content matches the publication’s interests—the editor will be more likely to publish your item.

Relevancy also means ensuring that the products or platforms you wish to promote are available in the publication’s region. SEMA can help you do the research through its database of market reports for 27 countries around the world. Available on SEMA's International homepage, the reports include the top-selling vehicles in the market—both pickups and cars—as well as the most popular modifications by niche, top distributors, leading trade and consumer shows and leading magazines. Contact SEMA Director of International Relations Linda Spencer at for information or to inquire about upcoming reports not yet posted to the website.

Conversely, a story that is general in nature may still see publication even if it features a vehicle that isn’t common to the region. For instance, a generic exhaust system story may be performed on a Nissan car that isn’t available in a magazine’s home country, but if the topic of the story is pertinent to vehicles that are available there, the editor may chose to use it to provide information that is of universal interest for his readers.

Strive for Quality

A photo of your company’s project car shot in the back lot under the uneven light of the spreading chestnut tree may be cheap and easy, but it is likely to immediately hit the trash bin if you send it to an editor. Magazines impress their readers—their customers—with professional presentation. High-quality photographs that are shot in a studio may cost more, but they’re also far more likely to catch and hold an editor’s eye.

All types of materials should be presented at the highest level available, including text, technical data and any other information that will simplify the editor’s task of processing and producing a quality article. Check carefully for factual accuracy as well as spelling mistakes and typos. An editor who is under deadline pressure will appreciate clean copy almost as much as top-notch photography.

Provide Variety

You may think that the best photo of your product or vehicle is a straightforward shot, but an editor may have four other identical treatments that he plans to run side by side in a buyer’s guide. If you send him three different angles, he’ll be able to use the one that best suits the story layout—and that ultimately sets your product apart from the others.

Again, you’re trying to make it as tempting as possible for the editor to include your materials. Explanatory text should accompany the images, providing comprehensive descriptions of the product or vehicle. It’s much easier to cut an article down to fit a given space than to fluff it up to fill a hole. The more the editor knows, the more accurate the story will be, so include additional materials, such as backup data, product comparisons and additional technical information. In some cases, an editor might even wish to use the story behind the story, such as why and how your company developed the product and any details that might help spice up the magazine article.

“The extent of the material you supply directly affects what we publish in the magazine,” Mulabegovic said during his presentation at the SEMA Show seminar. “Be aware that a monthly publication such as ours is hard work, and we face tight deadlines. The more complete and extensive the materials you supply are, the better it is for the production people.”

SEMA NEWS-JUNE 2009-INTERNATIONAL Zlatko Mulabegovic is the founder, director and editor of Top Performance and Top Auto magazines in the United Arab Emirates. He explained what international publications look for in everything from product releases to complete stories during a seminar entitled “Top Tips for Getting Your Products Covered in the International Media” at the 2008 SEMA Show.
SEMA NEWS-JUNE 2009-INTERNATIONAL Eduardo Bernasconi is the founder and editor of Fullpower magazine in Brazil and is also the promoter of a popular Brazilian automotive consumer event called Extreme Motorsports. He joined Mulabegovic at the dais during the SEMA Show seminar to explain his magazine’s requirements and how best to establish contacts with international media.
SEMA NEWS-JUNE 2009-INTERNATIONAL During his opening remarks, seminar moderator Wade Kawasaki, chairman of SEMA’s international committee and secretary/treasurer of the association’s Board of Directors, noted that the current financial crisis has taught us that we live in a global economy. “But with this crisis comes a tremendous amount of opportunities,” he said, “including the opportunity to get your products recognized in the international press.”

Know the Formats

Most international publications use industry-standard document and image formats. For photos, those consist of JPEG, TIFF and EPS files. Magazines utilize high-resolution images, meaning 300 dpi (dots per inch). A 72-dpi image is fine for Internet or e-mail use, where the photo will be viewed on a screen, but unless the photo dimensions are huge—something 17x20 inches—and it can be converted to 300 dpi and downsized dimensionally, a 72-dpi image just won’t work. If you send images that are too small or too low in resolution, the magazine will either have to ask for something better or simply not publish the image. It also helps if the image has been color corrected. If you don’t know what that means, talk with someone proficient in photo work.

Text press releases should also be supplied in standard formats, such as Microsoft Word, plain text (TXT), rich text format (RTF), portable document format (PDF) or even Notepad documents. Technical data and tech sheets may be supplied in any of those formats as well as in Excel spreadsheets.

Providing quality, ready-to-use materials greatly improves the chance that your promotional piece will be published in a magazine. The most basic form is a press release, which magazines use in news columns, new-product columns or similar brief stories. You can send text alone, but most magazines prefer the option of running a photo with every item. The ultimate submission would be a complete story or feature with a large selection of images. That gives the editor the option of publishing either a news brief or, if space permits and fortune smiles, a longer article.

Know How to Send

Not too long ago, regular mail was the only option for submitting articles to magazines either domestically or internationally. Computers and the Internet have created whole new worlds. If you’re submitting only a product release with one or two photos, you may submit them to the editor as e-mail attachments. However, do not embed the photo(s) in the text document. That just creates work for the editor. Instead, send each piece as a separate document and/or image file.

If you want to submit a longer piece that includes multiple documents, numerous images and other backup data, consider using an FTP (file transfer protocol) site or sending the materials on a CD or DVD through the regular mail. High-resolution images, in particular, can be 3 to 10 MB or more, and multiple images can not only take forever to download, but may also clog the editor’s mailbox. With an FTP site, you can upload a large selection of files and send the FTP address along with a user ID and password to the editor. (For more information about how to establish and use an FTP site, just enter the letters FTP into your web browser’s search engine. You’ll find everything from basic information to the latest in file-transfer solutions.)

Get to Know the Editor/Publisher

Each publication may have its own specific requirements, so try to contact the editor prior to submitting materials. Inquire about the types of products, vehicles and articles the magazine is most interested in as well as the methods and formats it most commonly uses for submissions. E-mail is a great way to break the ice, and SEMA can usually be of help in providing information about regional magazine titles, appropriate addresses and contact names.

The SEMA Show is also an outstanding venue for making contact with international media representatives. For more information about events, such as the International Happy Hour, the International New Product Awards program, or SEMA’s international programs in general, contact Linda Spencer.

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