What are forward features and why are they useful?

Written by Abigail Henderson


forward features

Whether you’re new to PR or have been in the industry for years, you will no doubt be familiar with forward features. Forward features are a fantastic weapon in any PR-pro’s arsenal. They allow you to create a thoughtful and tailored piece to share wisdom and support with your key audiences in a less urgent way to a news article. Here’s everything you need to know.

FORWARD FEATURES EXPLAINED

WHAT IS A FORWARD FEATURE?

Response Source explains that forward features are ‘the editorial calendars created by publications to plan their content throughout the year’. They are generally displayed with the name of the feature and the deadline as well as the publication date and any other useful information such as the word count and any image requirements.

It is worth noting that forward features, while they can be based around current affairs, differ from news significantly. News is topical and captures what is happening at a certain moment in time. Features, on the other hand, are designed to give a more in depth look at a particular subject and give a reader some insight into a specific topic.

WHY ARE THEY USEFUL?

Forward features are incredibly useful; they allow you to see exactly what content a publication is interested in and when they will be interested. They provide the scarcely seen luxury of time in what can be a non-stop industry! While a large portion of PR and media relations is focussed on ‘newsjacking’ and current affairs, forward features give you time to prepare content, conduct interviews and really take a deep dive into a topic that fits your brand.

Being able to share your areas of expertise and the valuable content it produces is a fantastic way to reach your target audience and connect with them on a different level. If there’s nothing new to reveal via a press release, features can help a business stay in the spotlight.

However, while it can be useful to have a forward plan, be prepared to be flexible. As RDPR explain, ‘it’s worth noting that they’re not written in stone and can be subject to change, especially in cases where industry or sector press reacts to a notable development within its sphere.’

WHERE CAN I FIND THEM?

It can be easy to find forward features, provided you know where to look! Most magazines and online editorial platforms publish their forward features lists or editorial calendars online or alternatively make them available upon request. Some publishing outlets, such as Issu, also provide forward features lists for their publications so it’s worth checking hosting platforms and publishers’ websites.

One vital element to consider when identifying forward features is the publication itself. You might be looking for a feature about sustainable fast-fashion and you find one in a very niche, environmental trade magazine. What you need to consider is whether your target audience of mainstream fashionistas is going to see it. The feature title might be right but if the publication won’t reach your target audience it may not reap the desired rewards.

Forward features can be a fantastic opportunity to really educate, inform and get your key messages across in a more subtle, less ‘shouty’ way than breaking news headlines. For more information about forward features and how they could work for you, get in touch with a member of our team.

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