How Not to Pitch
+ Free 'What to Write Instead' Checklist
Pitching articles, guest posts or interviews is not hard. You can learn how to do it. You can even throw darts at the board and some will hit. But mastering the craft is another story. And then there’s the whole emotional part. It’s the business equivalent of sidling up to someone at a bar with absolutely no clue if they even have a significant other or not. You are laying it all on the table. And you risk the most dreaded of all outcomes: rejection.
Pitching is the PR equivalent of sidling up to someone at a bar with absolutely no clue if they even have a significant other or not. You are laying it all on the table. And you risk the most dreaded of all outcomes: rejection.
But yourself you must, to get your name out there. So in an effort to help you avoid embarrassing missteps, here are three pitching Don’ts…followed by what to do instead.
Hitting send becomes so much easier once you have a greater handle on how to write a pitch the “right way.” (We all want to know we are “doing it right,” right?)
Want an expanded list of prompts on what to write? Sign up here for a free checklist.
Pitching Don’t #1:
Enough about me, let’s talk about me:
“...If you are interested in having a guest writer let me know. I always like to make new friends and connections. I have a bunch of great recipes with original photos. I’ve posted many on my blog but I have a lot more. I’m also happy to write about juicing which is my latest obsession, hydroponic gardening, or basic common sense nutrition and health...”
When you're pitching, you’re selling. And as with any sales conversation, it’s imperative you explain the benefit to the person who is “buying.” In this case, the editor is your buyer. What are they going to get out of featuring you? Remember, they are beholden to their audience. So you’ve gotta sell yourself to the editor in a way they could see selling you to their audience.
Include in your pitch a sentence or two that shows you know the audience.
There are a variety of ways to do this from reiterating to them the themes you see resonating through their content to referencing topics that get a lot of attention from their readers, listeners, or viewers.
For a list of prompts to write the right content, sign up here for a checklist.
Pitching Don’t #2:
Write a lot of words, yet say nothing...
I have looked at your site and I am really impressed with its entire structure and content quality. Also, you are maintaining it very well. Currently, I am looking for the possibility of sharing my content on these kinds of blogs (as guest blog post) with my website link.
Please let me know your opinion.
To even call this a pitch would be overstating. I guess this person is in the game and deserves props for that, but there's no attempt here at making a meaningful connection or forging a mutually-beneficial relationship, and that’s because there’s no content in this email.
At a bare minimum, your pitch has to include information about the outlet, so they know you’re talking to them, and not just sending blanket emails, and information about your idea, so they know what they can anticipate being able to offer their audience.
This can be communicated in two-to-three clean sentences.
I saw you got a great response from your audience on the piece about ...
I would like to offer a piece called [title here]. Some of the points I’ll cover in the article include ...
The key takeaway from this is that you have to do your homework. Know what you’re talking about when it comes to that outlet, and when it comes to your own idea.
Pitching Don’t #3:
Be Unintentionally Vague
I was wondering if you would be interested in partnering with XXXX for a series of guest posts surrounding the topics of online education and furthering your career with an online Master’s degree.
A few topics ideas I have are:
- 6 Practical Study Strategies for Online Learning
- Getting a Master's While You Work: How It’s Possible
- What To Do When You Want to Change Career Paths
I wasn’t sure if this entity was interested in inviting me to write for them, or if they wanted to write these articles for placement on my site. Either way, these ideas aren’t anything I could write about. And they aren’t the right fit for my audience, either.
It’s hard to hit the nail on the head when it comes to offering ideas for article contributions, but if you’re close enough you might receive a response like “We have content like that on the site already, but stay in touch with new ideas when you have them...” That’s what you’re going for if you’re going to “miss the mark.” You don’t want to miss the mark so completely that you have your contact shaking his or her head.
This pitch had substance and ideas, just not the right ideas for the audience.
End your pitch with a clear call-to-action. What do you want the person who’s reading it to do once they’re finished? You want them to hit reply and let you know if you got the assignment. So ask them to do just that.
For a checklist of actual verbiage to write and points to hit -- pitching dos -- based on these pitching don'ts, sign up here.