I and the rest of the editors at Environments for Aging (EFA) are always looking ahead, thinking days, weeks, months—and, at times, even years—into the future. That’s the nature of publishing: planning, planning, planning.

In order to identify the right timing and mix of content for our print, web, and events channels, we dig into the constant stream of information coming our way via press releases, conversations with industry members, research studies, conference sessions, community tours, and more. We also welcome and encourage pitches—and that’s where you come in.

Whether you’d like to offer up an expert source, suggest a new project to be profiled, or byline a column or blog, we’re all ears—or eyes, I should say; email is the best way to send your pitches. See below for more on that and a few additional tips to ensure your idea gets our attention and fits our needs.

Type first, talk later. I’m always happy to chat with senior living design professionals, but when it comes to story pitches, emailing your ideas allows us to easily share and review them as a team. But send just one at a time, please—again, it’s easier to manage. The editors and I try to meet biweekly to assess what’s come in and identify if and how something might work for the magazine. Keep that schedule in mind, too—responses won’t necessarily be immediate. If it’s a fit, we’ll be in touch.

Details, details. So what should you include in that email? Start small. We don’t need a pre-written article; in fact, I discourage it. Let us mull over your idea first to figure out the best approach and go from there. Instead, briefly spell out what you're proposing, including relevant dates (for example, project completion or when research was conducted), the names of organizations/firms involved, and whether photos are available. If we have all of those details up front, we can avoid a lot of back-and-forth in the decision-making process. And keep in mind we like to cover new projects within a year of completion.

The big why. In addition to providing basic details, every pitch we receive must answer one fundamental question: Why would readers care? Consider your peers who are involved in the planning, design, construction, and ongoing operation of senior living communities and how your story idea will help them do their jobs. If you can’t easily identify what they’ll learn or how they’ll apply it to their work, your idea likely won’t fit within our editorial mission. If you can, tell us! Be sure to add bullet points that specify the angle you’re proposing and a few expected takeaways.

Picture it. If you’re pitching us, you’re probably already familiar with what we do. And we do photos. As a design magazine, it’s imperative that we support detailed, solution-driven content with images that illustrate those practices. So don’t just tell us about the latest project you worked on or an innovative design solution you implemented—show us. Low-res photos are fine during the pitching process, so be sure to attach a few; however, we’ll want to know if high-res professionally shot images are available for publication. Depending on the topic, renderings, charts, graphs, and other visuals are also encouraged.

First of all. We always appreciate exclusivity among competitive design trade magazines, especially for in-depth project profiles. So please be upfront about whether you’re shopping an idea around or have committed to coverage by another publication (and let others know you’re working with us, too—we editors like that). Having the first run isn’t a requirement, but it will be a factor that comes into play as part of our assessment. We also require that all bylined submissions be original and exclusive to our magazine, and we won’t accept anything that’s been previously published, including on your website, blog, or other marketing channels.

Not the place. EFA isn’t the forum for sales pitches. To that end, it’s our policy not to accept bylines from vendors or manufacturers, nor do we use the names of those companies or their products in print—with a few exceptions. On a case-by-case basis, we’ll consider submissions from vendors regarding work that’s unrelated to the service they provide/product they produce. We also publish details on new products on our website and in print, and produce an annual Buyers Guide. Additionally, we won’t accept pitches from design firms that disguise PR as editorial content—we’re not the appropriate outlet if the underlying message of what you’re proposing is “hire us!” or “buy this!”

Now, once we’ve sorted through all of that, here’s what you can expect next:

  • Due to the volume of emails we receive, it’s impossible to respond to every pitch—especially those that are a complete miss. If we like your idea, you can expect to hear from one of our editors within about a month. Feel free to check in if you haven’t.
  • We largely assign feature articles to staff editors or professional freelance writers, while we prefer columns to be written by industry members. We’ll assess your pitch and decide what’s best.
  • Going back to the planning I mentioned earlier, keep in mind that we work several months in advance. So if your pitch is accepted, it’s possible that it won’t be published in print for some time. Please be patient.
  • However, we’re a web-driven publication. So our goal is to post content to our website once it’s completed our editing process, and from there we cull articles for upcoming issues.
  • Editing is, indeed, a process. If you contribute a byline, anticipate the time from first draft to final to be a couple of months. The same schedule applies if you serve as a source on a story. Again—patience, please.

If you have any other questions, I’m always an email away: jennifer.silvis@emeraldexpo.com. We rely on all of you to share your stories and help direct where we take Environments for Aging. Thank you for contributing.