Have you ever seen an ‘expert’ make a comment on a news story and wonder how on earth they were invited to do that? Is it because they’re the best in their field? Of course not. It’s because they put themselves out there and usually all it takes is one email or phone call.
The feeling of “that should have been me” is something I hear all too often when I’m welcoming new clients aboard. This is why I cover media pitching in my PR Workshops and 1:1 power hour calls.
There is a knack to pitching and you can absolutely learn how to write a killer email pitch that not only gets opened by an influential editor but also gets a “hell YES!”
Here are my hot tips and media pitching 101 so you can start getting monstrous exposure for you and your business…
Introduce your idea
The first paragraph is crucial to get right. We need to get your idea and why you are the right person to deliver it across in 1-2 sentences.
Unless you are famous or known to the journalist, you won’t need to share your name immediately. Start by introducing your idea (we’ll talk about this in a moment) and, for example, your job title. If I was to pitch myself I would open my pitch like this…
I wondered if you would be interested in an article on ‘how to create and maintain your brand reputation’ by an award-winning Media Strategist.
This is an initial pitch email to introduce you and your idea so at this stage. There is absolutely no need to divulge too much personal information or your entire resume.
Unless it is relevant to your pitch, try to refrain from sharing your whole life story. If you are pitching a real life story of which you have experienced then, of course, it is relevant.
Your first paragraph is about introductions to you and your reason for contacting them. If you want to reveal more information about you, that is relevant to your pitch, then your next paragraph is the perfect place.
I open with “To give you a little background…” and take it from there. This means the recipient can decide if they would like to read more about the story or not.
Share a story idea not a topic
Nailing your idea is key to the success of your pitch.
There is a big difference between a story and a topic. An actual idea would be the title of the article you want to write. Sharing that you want to write on a topic is too broad and doesn’t give the reader enough to go on.
For example, which one of these would you be more inclined to accept if you ran a magazine?
- Topic: Business growth
- Story idea: How to use LinkedIn to gain inbound leads and never cold call again
The latter right? Business growth is such a broad topic with thousands of elements. A topic such as this would not give an editor enough to go on as they won’t know your Zone of Genius is within using LinkedIn for business.
Make decision making easy
You need your pitch to give the recipient everything they need to make their decision. Everything. If needs be, make a checklist or create a pitch template to work from ensuring you include all the key elements needed.
Be clear what you want them to do next
This may sound obvious but it’s amazing how many people slip up on this one. Most pitches that editors and journalists receive are just emails introducing a business or a product. This doesn’t tell the recipient what they want them to do with their email.
Do you want their product in a gift round-up feature? Were you wanting to be interviewed for the weekly ‘spotlight’ feature? Or were they intending to write a how-to article for them?
Close your email by showing the journalist what you want them to do next and why you are contacting them. Make it as easy as possible for them to make a decision, don’t make work for them.
When I pitch an article idea I will close my pitch with “I would love to write the article [magazine name]” so they know exactly why I am contacting them.
Do your research
Whatever ideas you have, make sure you have researched your media outlets first. There is no point pitching a how-to article idea to magazines that never publish that type of article.
Start by figuring out what media titles your ideal client is reading, watching and listening to. Then do some research and see where you could fit into those.
No spammy attachments
You may think it’s relevant to send a bunch of images with your email pitch for an editor to make a decision on whether to publish you. Chances are that email will go into the SPAM file and never be seen.
If images or additional information are relevant to your pitch then add a link instead.
Killer email subject
Any good email needs a great subject line. It’s all very well creating a beautiful pitch but unless the subject line rocks, your pitch may not be seen. I like to add the story or idea into the subject and what I’m pitching for.
For example, “Article idea: 10 brand reputation hacks”
This allows busy editors to come back to my email when they are ready to look at their pitches for that day. I’m not a fan of click-bait type subject lines to draw people in. I like to be clear and concise as to what my email is. Plus it gives the recipient the general gist so they’ll know if they’re keen to read on.
We’ve all been there. An email gets sent with the wrong name or you forgot to change something after you copied and pasted it from the last one. While a template is helpful, be sure to tweak it each time for that particular media outlet.
Remember to proofread your pitch before you hit send.
Find the decision-maker
Sending your pitch to the person making the decisions, rather than the generic email address the interns check, means your pitch will be seen by the right eyes.
You can have the name of an editor or journalist within seconds using the social media platforms LinkedIn or Twitter. Search for their job title and media name, for instance, ‘Fashion Editor Cosmopolitan’.
Freelancers rock too
It’s easy to presume we pitch ourselves directly to the media outlet. But… did you know that many journalists work freelance for multiple places?
Freelance journalists depend on stories for their income, so use social media to find out who they are and which publications they write for. Twitter is ACE for this as the media are extremely active there. Try creating a private Twitter list of journalists and influential media so you can keep an eye on what they are writing about and see if you can add anything to the conversation.