Having your work published is a common goal for many wedding professionals. But knowing where to start and how to get published can be a bit daunting and overwhelming. That is why we sat down with Meghan Ely of OFD Consulting to discuss all things wedding PR and wedding publication related. No matter your wedding PR goals, you will love this interview and walk away with some of the best advice of the Industry Expert Interview Series yet!
OFD Consulting owner, Meghan Ely combines in-the-trenches event experience with a love of wedding PR to empower her clients to take their businesses to new heights. Her team’s publicity efforts are regularly honored by the Public Relations Society of America, and more recently, Meghan was named the NACE Speaker of the Year.
A long-time industry speaker and writer, she is a WeddingPro educator with The Knot + WeddingWire, as well as a regular contributor to Wedding Planner Magazine, Catersource, and SpecialEvents.com. Meghan currently serves as the 2023 International Immediate Past President for WIPA and is a member of the Allied Council for the National Society of Black Wedding and Event Professionals.
Wedding PR Specialist Interview
1. How have wedding submissions & publications changed in the past few years?
We are officially in a submission boom to coincide with the wedding boom we’ve heard so much about over the last year. Post-COVID, there has been a sharp increase in submissions to blogs and publications, which means a few things. One, submissions will be far more competitive than they ever have been, so it’s important to set expectations accordingly. Additionally, wedding pros need to understand that there will be a longer wait time- to hear back from the publication and the time it takes from being accepted to published.
2. What are the top benefits of getting published as a wedding pro?
At the heart of it, features are a great way to increase brand awareness, earn backlinks for your site (fabulous for SEO!) and stay top of mind with couples and vendors alike. These days, we’re also seeing submissions serve as a strong social proof strategy, especially when attracting a discerning client. These days, couples gravitate toward brands with great buzz- so having a robust press page filled with times when editors loved your work can really help with that.
3. What are your top three submission tips for those who have never submitted before?
- Don’t overlook the rules. Media outlets define submission guidelines to standardize the process and simplify their reviews. With time at a premium, adhering to every rule they’ve set is vital. Otherwise, your submission may be tossed out for the sake of time simply because you didn’t format it properly or forgot to include vendor credits. Follow the rules!
- Time submissions strategically. When you submit is just as important as what you submit — so keep timing in mind before hitting send on a real wedding. While many editors have adjusted their one-year rule, expect it to return as wedding season picks up. Remember: Most editors review submissions months in advance, so do what you can to align your efforts with seasonal content and editorial calendars.
- Collaborate with creative partners. A winning submission requires a great wedding — and to pull that off, you need a reliable team to back you up. During the design stage, discuss potential media outlets based on the client’s aesthetic and the goals of those on the team. When everyone is on the same page, you can execute a submission-worthy wedding, so don’t let press and PR become an afterthought.
4. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see when it comes to wedding pros wanting to get published?
I cringe when I see wedding pros sidestepping the editorial rules and guidelines because they know the editor. No matter your relationship, it’s essential to understand they have guidelines for a reason, and it’s best to follow them. Give them the images sized to their specifications and include the Instagram handles for vendors if requested. Understand there is a method to why they ask what they ask.
Additionally, if an editor doesn’t get back to you, wedding pros are inclined to make two mistakes- one, they follow up too much, or two, they move on to the next outlet without closing the loop. If enough time has passed since submitting, then following up once is fine. However, if you don’t hear back, it’s better to reach out one more time to respectfully withdraw the submission so you can move on to the next outlet, free and clear.
5. How do you recommend preparing for submissions in advance?
In this competitive climate, you’ll want to get the wedding out to publications sooner rather than later, and a little pre-planning can help with that. First, ensure you’ve connected with a lawyer and have the right language in your contract to have approval to submit. From there, connect with the wedding photographer (if you aren’t it!) prior to see if they have an interest in collaborating on the submission. Remember- they typically own the copyright, so you’ll need their permission and be understanding if they’d prefer to submit independently. If you know you’re moving ahead, you can even interview the couple prior to get the basic details of the day so you don’t have to wait on them after the wedding.
6. What are some must have shots for a wedding to get picked up by a publisher?
Every editorial outlet has unique preferences, but you can be sure they all will want details shots. This means the fashion, the cake, the centerpieces, and so on. It’s important that you have all detail shots available when creating a competitive gallery to share with the publication. Great flat lays are also key for many top publications, bearing in mind that some are not necessarily shot on the day itself.
Remember that you aim to be able to tell the story of the day from start to finish so you’ll want a few highlights from when the couple are getting ready to start things off. You’ll need to pull different angles of the couple during the ceremony, always having the first kiss ready to submit. A few group shots of the wedding party and cocktail hour are always great, but don’t go overboard. Make sure you are heavy on the details for the reception, highlighting anything especially unique, different and highly personalized.
7. What do you need to have prepared when making a submission?
No matter the outlet, you almost always need the same elements. You’ll first want the basic details of the event- the couples’ names, pronouns, wedding date, and location. From there, you’ll want a comprehensive vendor list, making sure to detail the exact category for each planner, along with their URL and Instagram handle. Next, you’ll need to curate a gallery of images based on the editorial specifications and provide a brief write-up of the day, highlighting the top details and moments. It’s important to remember that each blog and publication have its requirements, so if you need to resubmit elsewhere, don’t assume you can just submit exactly what you had prior.
8. How do you recommend working submissions into your wedding planning processes/workflow?
If you can get approval from the couple in your contract, that’s a great first step. Everyone has their workflow, and if you can integrate submissions into the process you already have, you are far more likely to continue with it. At the beginning of each season, note which weddings may be most competitive editorially. Focus on those, reaching out to the photographer a couple weeks prior to the wedding to see if there is interest in working together. Be sure to collect vendors and some insight on the day from the couple prior so you can hit the ground running as soon as the gallery is ready. One of the smartest strategies I’ve seen is when wedding pros interview all couples prior with a few editorial questions about their upcoming wedding. This content can then potentially be used for a submission write-up as well as a blog or social media content.
9. How to know which magazine/blog you should submit your content to?
Ultimately, you want to focus on media outlets that match the photography style and details of the event. For example, some outlets prefer modern celebrations with a lot of color, while others seek timeless events with highly personalized elements. Editors will appreciate if you take the time to review their content prior and submit what makes the most sense based on that. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share that for niche outlets (location-specific, destination, LGBTQIA+, film photography, rustic, etc.), you will want to take the extra step to make sure your content is the right fit for their parameters.
10. What are publishers & magazines looking for with submissions for 2024?
Every publication is looking for something different based on their audience, but overall, most will lean into statement fashion, lots of color, over-the-top florals, and of course, fresh details. Many of the top publications have also made public commitments to Diversity, equity and incluson, which has been great, as it means they are keen on showcasing all kinds of couples.
How Meghan can help you and your wedding business
OFD consulting can help you with your wedding PR so that you have more time and energy to focus on publish-worthy events! As a member of the OFD Collective, you will receive monthly guidance and coaching from wedding PR experts. With three different levels of membership to choose from, we know that there is the perfect level of wedding PR help that you are looking for!
If you are a seasoned wedding professional who is looking for help with wedding publications and wedding PR, you have come to the right place! We want to connect wedding pros with the best in the industry, and when it comes to getting published, Meghan is your Guru! Be sure to check out our BONUS interview with Meghan Ely on the Details By Dallas Instagram page!