Writing a bangin’ pitch is a unique art because unlike marketing, you can’t throw money at it to make it work. Whether you’re looking to skyrocket your reputation by getting featured in a major publication or score a partnership with a brand you love, being able to write the perfect pitch is the only way to manifest these goals.
Landing a spot with a top tier publication has irreplaceable benefits; from positioning you as a thought leader in your industry and exposing you to millions of new audiences, to creating backlinks to your website and bumping you up in Google rankings… shall I go on?
It doesn’t stop at just coverage though, pal.
Mastering a good pitch is the secret sauce for tying the knot with your favourite brands that you’ve always dreamed of representing.
Got your attention?
I’ve worked in the PR industry for a five years and in my time working for an agency, I was in complete and utter disbelief at how willing clients were to pay upwards of $8,000 a month to have little ol’ me do some pitching and secure coverage. If anything, it speaks to the importance of media coverage and good pitching, but I’m not kidding– pitching is genuinely something that any decent writer could do successfully just by taking the time to nail the techniques.
Well friends, lets get down to business. No holding back detail– these are the exact 10 steps that you need to follow for a hot pitch that actually gets responses.
Strategically identify the right journalist or contact
This is such a critical step! Seriously, you could be a better writer than J.K. Rowling but if you don’t send it to the right person, it will still get deleted.
Once you decide on a publication you want to be featured in, take the time to choose relevant journalists wisely. You will want to consider their area of specialization (this is called a ‘beat’) and any personal interests shared online. For instance, if you want to be featured to talk about how digital marketing is changing in 2019, you wouldn’t want to pitch the technology reporter or the parenting editor.
If you’re pitching a brand, you’ll want to find the person in the company who deals with influencers and partnerships for the products you want to represent. Some brands will have a general inbox that they want pitches to go to and won’t share staff emails, but you should at the very least identify who in the company is in charge of partnerships and address them directly in your email.
Linkedin and Twitter are AH-MAZING for finding this kind of information.
Create a personal connection & a feeling of familiarity
Being able to write the perfect pitch is about creating a personal connection with someone goes beyond just saying their name in an email. You want them to feel that you chose to pitch them because you truly understand their interests and what you’re about to share is right for them.
If you wanted to pitch a story on ‘5 different ways to use bronzer’ and the journalist previously reviewed the Benefit bronzer, you could open the email by saying: “I really enjoyed reading your review of the Benefit bronzer [link their story]– it’s one of my favourites!” then follow by making a connection to your story idea “I recently discovered 5 unique ways to use great bronzers (like Benefit!) that I think your readers would be interested in…”
You’ll want to be careful as to not go overboard by drawing connections that aren’t there. Don’t lost sight of the unique selling points of your own story!
‘30-second elevator pitch’ opening statement
Have you ever been so passionate or excited about an idea that you start typing… and just keep typing… until you’ve written a novel? I definitely have. While there is definitely a place for that, like on your blog and social media channels– pitches work a little differently.
To write the perfect pitch, your first paragraph should be a fine-tuned ’30-second elevator pitch’ statement that tells the person on the other end what they need to know.
Journalists don’t really care what your middle name is or what degree you graduated with. What they do care about is if you have a newsworthy story for them. That’s it. And the truth? Most journalists don’t even make it past the first sentence before clicking delete.
Within the first two to three opening sentences of your pitch, the journalist must immediately know:
- A short sentence about who you are (My name is Rola Kamaleddine from the Modern World Club, a blog that helps millennials escape the rat race and create meaningful lives.)
- A very brief summary of your story angle
- How or why it is relevant to them and their audience
After that, you can go on to spill the juicy details.
Keep it tailored to the publication or brand
Besides just personalizing your email to the journalist/contact’s name, your content should also reflect the personality of the publication or brand and their audience. For example, magazine or blog-type publications will appreciate a unique voice and creative writing, while fact-based publications like science journals will rely on statistics and hard evidence over tone.
For example, if you want to be featured in Huffpost, you probably wouldn’t want your pitch to harp on in statistics and academic facts in a mundane tone. You’ll want to speak more conversationally and draw connections to things in the news that millennials can relate to.
Similarly, if your goal is to partner with a travel company, you’ll want to show a fun-loving personality with an engaging, yet knowledgeable tone.
Ultimately, you want to think like their reader. Would they be interested in what you have to say and the way you’re saying it?
Tie in a relevant news item (if possible)
Timely pitches that tie in a relevant news item have a better chance of being picked up. Did you see something recently online or in the news that could supplement your story? Jump on the bandwagon!
Remember when I said that often journalists barely read past the first sentence? Well, sometimes it might take a nice photo or two to motivate them onwards.
If you’re talking about something visual or have a relevant graphic for the story that you’re pitching, I highly suggest embedding it in the email to catch their attention and entice them to read further.
We have short attention spans and our minds comprehend graphics on screens a lot easier.
TO NOTE, I didn’t say attach– but embed. You’ll want the photo to show up in the body of the email instantly when they open it up.
Embedding photos is also a great way to break up text and make blocks of information look a lot less daunting to read.
This takes us right into…
Keep it easy: scan-able & accessible
Because we have such short attention spans online and because the people we are targeting are incredibly busy, big paragraphs of text are turn offs. Keep the information in digestible paragraphs and make use of bullet points, bolding important information and embedded photos to break up the text.
End with a summary and a clear call to action
So the journalist has reached the end of your email and they’re like “YES! This is AWESOME!”– Now what?
You should always, always, always end a pitch with a summary of your ‘ask’ and a clear call to action that has relevant links they can explore(like websites, social channels, portfolio, etc).
Think of it as a closing elevator pitch just to remind them of what you want again and where they can learn more about you, if they like.
“I’d love to delve deeper into these concepts and teach your readers how …
You can learn more about my mission on my blog xxx and read some of my other contributed articles on xx, xxx and xxx.
I look forward to hearing back from you, [journalist name].
Thanks in advance,
For the love of whatever you believe in, PLEASE do a grammar scan before you click send.
Also make sure you spelt their name right.
That is all.
Why’d I leave this for last?
Well, if your pitch is bangin’ but nobody reads it, you haven’t really accomplished anything.
As arguably the most important part of your pitch, your subject line needs to tell them what they want to hear.
It should be short, sweet and catchy.
If your pitch ties in a recent news item, has an interview opportunity or an event invite, you should consider adding it to the subject line!
Here’s an example of a good subject line:
TIMELY (IWD): Kids Mental Health Impacting Wage Gap for Moms
This is a headline I actually used to pitch a story for a client that was successfully covered by a top tier publication.
Why does this work? There is urgency with the words “timely” right up front, letting them know that there is a relevant news item tied in, in this case it’s International Women’s Day. I get right to the point with no filler words, making a connection between two things that are prominent issues in the media.
You’ve just learned how to write the perfect pitch! I know there’s a lot of information here to digest, but once you nail this format, you will get responses.
Like anything, being able to write the perfect pitch can take some practice so don’t feel discouraged if you don’t hear back right away. Try switching up the angle to something more enticing or relevant and keep using the exact same formula outlined above for the best chance at results.
Happy pitching, friends! I look forward to seeing your face in the media or finding you repping your favourite brand on the ‘gram.
Now you know how to write the perfect pitch, but what is the best way to actually pitch it? When? how? Check out this blog post: Secrets to getting published in major publications