Pitch Perfect: 10 Tips on How to Pitch to Publications and Media
I have been on all three sides of the publication/brand, PR, and blogger triangle. Because of this, I have had excellent experience in learning how to pitch to publications and the media.
When you think of PR, what do you think? What side are you on?
I’ve been the journalist who has received press releases & pitches from PR pros. In my position as a journalist, I had the authority to decide if I wanted to move forward with a story or not. As a PR person working for my advertising agency, I have to write press releases on behalf of clients and send them out to the media. Now, as a blogger, I have to pitch MYSELF to publications, journalists, and brands.
Within 3 months of starting my blog, I was featured in a sponsored article on a popular millennial mom blog and a digital magazine. All thanks to my PR efforts.
When it comes to PR, the first things that come to mind are pitches and press releases. However, I believe that guest articles are an underutilized tool in PR for bloggers and small businesses. While working with brands are great, publications can be just as beneficial.
The Benefits of Guest Blogging
Exposure & Attention – Whether it is a paid post or not, you gain exposure from the public, as well as the publication/media outlet you are writing for.
Backlinks from credible websites – Google favors websites that have backlinks. Backlinks help with SEO, build website credibility, and helps with referral traffic.
Experience & Education – You are learning how to build relationships, form contacts lists, and are experiencing how to write for mediums that are not yours to control, which means you are learning discipline and how to follow guidelines and deadlines.
How to Pitch to Publications
Write an intriguing subject line – Journalists and editors get tons of pitches in their email on a daily basis. The very first impression you are making is with your email subject. The email subject should be the headline to a story or topic you are pitching. Make it intriguing enough to where the receiver feels like they HAVE to open it to know more.
For example, “10 Reasons Why I Do Not Wear Open-Toed Shoes” is a lot more interesting than, “The season’s hottest heels!”
Know WHO you’re pitching to – Do your research. If you send your pitch to a general email address, then you risk it not falling into the right hands. If you send your pitch to the wrong person, it makes you look like you have not researched the publication. Each journalist/editor has a “beat.” A beat is a specific niche or topic that they cover. Research the publication and who covers what topics. If there is no email available, search their social media accounts to see if they have their contact info there. If not, find the format of the company emails. They are usually something along the lines of firstname.lastname@example.org or JDoe@company.com. For example, if Jane Doe worked for a publication, her email may either be Jane@company.com or JDoe@company.com.
Also, if you’ve done your research, mention an article written by that journalist that you enjoyed reading.
Make it valuable – What VALUE can you add to your story? Is it personal? Does it relate to a celebrity or a holiday? Think of that key factor that is going to set your story apart from other stories with similar topics.
Think of the target audience – Ask yourself, WHO are you writing this story for and HOW does it benefit the readers of the publication? WHAT can they gain from it and WHY should they care?
Follow up – But don’t blow them up – It is a best practice that after you submit a pitch, to follow up with the person you emailed within a few days or a week. If you still do not hear anything, then they probably do not want to work with you on that particular topic. That does not mean give up on pitching.
Make it exclusive – In your pitch, offer the publication exclusivity. Tell them that if they pick up your topic/story, you will not work with anyone else. It is in bad taste to continue trying to get the same story published in multiple publications. But, if they decide to pass on your offer, you can continue to look for other publications to run your story. This does not mean that you will not be able to offer your story to other publications once it has been published. However, you may have to write another version of the story.
PROOFREAD – This is one of the most important tips! If you have typos, spelling errors, etc. in your pitches, you risk it going ignored. If you cannot submit a simple pitch without errors, then it will be hard to be trusted to submit an entire story without errors. And that will mean more work for the journalist.
Write concisely – Make the pitch short and sweet. As I mentioned before, journalists have a lot of pitches, with little time. Make a large statement in a few words. No more than a few paragraphs. The body will include your story headline, an introduction, and a short paragraph about your topic. Also include your blog and social stats, and a draft (if applicable).
Research guidelines – A lot of big publications have submission guidelines. It would be best to research those before you submit to them. They will tell you exactly what they want to see from you when you pitch your idea for a story.
If your pitch is rejected, build a relationship, pitch again later – Just because one of your pitches does not get picked, does not mean your others will not. Before you pitch, make sure the topic has not already been talked about on their site. If it has and you’re really passionate about it, try to provide your idea from a different perspective or different angle. If you get rejected, take it as a form of constructive criticism. Re-evaluate your pitch, and make necessary adjustments.
Guest blogging can be a great way to build relationships, beef up your press page, and promote your expertise to others. By following these 10 tips on how to pitch to publications, you will be well on your way to scoring the collaborations of your dreams!