This is a guest post by Breanna Carlile of craftremedy.com. I first met Breanna the week before I got married – she’s Devin’s cousin! I’m super excited to have her guest post here on blog ambitions. She is going to be sharing her tips on how to write the perfect pitch email.
Pitching your blog idea to the media or even a company you want to work with can be a little intimidating your first go-around, but doing so can dramatically help your blog grow in a BIG WAY. As a communications and public relations graduate, professional marketer and blogger, I have learned from books and experience the best practices to write your first media pitch. These tips will help you stand out from the emails that pile up for that editor or marketer you’re trying to impress. It’s the blogger’s guide to the perfect media pitch.
Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘why a media pitch?’ Any public relations specialist will tell you that free publicity is better than paid publicity and I think most people would agree. As a blogger, you may not have the big bucks it takes to kick your web presence up a notch. That’s where these awesome free resources, tools and tips come in- it doesn’t take money to get noticed. If you can pitch an idea, project, recipe, product or article from your blog and it gets featured on the company’s website or magazine, you have opened the door to thousands and sometimes millions of new followers and it was all for free! The point I’m trying to make is that magazines, companies and media outlets need great content so why not pitch them your great ideas and get some more eyes on your blog! It’s a win, win!
So lets get started on your perfect media pitch.
Research, Research, Research
This is THE most important take away for writing the perfect media pitch. A little research legwork will go a long way in getting attention for your blog and research can be easy when you have the right tools and resources. Let me walk you through some of the things you need to research before getting started on your media pitch. All the tools and resources I outline in this post are FREE so you won’t have to worry about your “P.R.” sized budget.
Pitch to the right person
If you are a fitness blogger, you don’t want to be pitching to Better Homes and Gardens magazine. That’s obvious, but you do need to make sure you do your homework and pitch to the right person. If you’re contacting a magazine or newspaper, you should know that they have multiple editors who cover different topics. For example, a parenting magazine may have separate editors for family, kids, crafts and activities. You’ll want to pitch to the person who covers the topic you are pitching about. Same thing goes if you’re contacting a company, find the right person.
Finding these people can sometimes be difficult. In the P.R. world, companies use a tool called Cision to find direct media contacts. Cision is an expensive option for the everyday blogger, but this doesn’t mean there isn’t an alternative. You can find contact information on the web the old fashioned way. Go to the outlet’s website and find a story that fits in your niche. Find authors, editors and copywriters that cover something you want to pitch about.
If I were a food blogger pitching a recipe to MarthaStewart.com, I would look at various food articles and specifically for the author and their position within the company. Here’s one I found:
Here we can see that Victoria Spencer is the Senior Digital Food Editor, probably someone we could pitch a recipe to. Once you find a name and position, use Google to further your search, and who knows, you may just get lucky and find an email. If you can’t pin down a specific contact, you can usually locate the general pitch email address, but the former is definitely preferred. Even a name will help your efforts in getting “brownie” points, so use it in your email.
Learn about their audience
Do some research on the audience you hope to reach– their audience. I’ll let you in on a little secret, you can find all this information in their media kit. Hop on over to Google and search “(magazine name) (current year) Media Kit”. So if I wanted to find information for Golf Digest, I would search “Golf Digest 2015 Media Kit”. Here’s what I found:
With one simple Google search, I now know who reads Golf Digest from their age down to how much money they make. You may have to do some digging to find audience demographics, but knowing this will help you showcase ideas editors would most likely look at. Once you have identified these demographics, put a little plug in your email about how your idea will connect with their specific audience.
Know what they’re looking for
Once you’re armed with a general sense of their audience, it’s time to get specific. Magazines usually have what’s called an editorial calendar. It’s a calendar for upcoming topics they will cover. This also can be searched via the web and is sometimes located in the media kit. Google “(magazine name) (current year) Editorial Calendar”. Here’s one I found for the magazine, Eating Well:
You can see that they are featuring “Do-Ahead Dinners” in the November issue, so you may pitch a delicious stuffing recipe that can be made a few days before Thanksgiving. You will also want to take note of the print close date, or sometimes the called ad close date. This is the deadline for ads in the magazine, so beat this deadline by at least a month for any content you pitch. Now is a great time for pitching Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes and projects.
This resource will give you a leg-up from other pitches because you’ll already have an idea of what they’re looking for.
Tips for writing the perfect media pitch
Now that we have done our research, it’s time to write the perfect media pitch. These are must do’s to get attention:
1. What’s in a name?
The perfect media pitch is personalized, but sometimes finding a direct contact, or a specific editor is not realistic. Look above at Pitch to the Right Person for more tips on finding specific contacts. If you can’t pin down a specific contact, you can also locate the general pitch email, but the former is definitely preferred.
2. Give a short story
When I say short, I mean short. Editors, journalists and marketers get lots of emails and don’t have time to read a lengthy story. Paint a picture that gives a little background and leave it at that.
3. Top notch pictures
Pictures are the first thing our eyes gravitate to so make them pretty. Use high quality, light and bright pictures. I like to use the free online photo editor, PicMonkey, not only because it’s free, but it has great features and is easy to use. In addition, it is very important that you include these pictures WITHIN your email. You can include them as attachments, but chances are they won’t be opened. It’s best practice to put them inline like this:
4. Make your “point”
Besides being concise, bullet points help to separate the text and give quick reference to your product or idea (see my picture above). Put all of your important points and information here, as a summary. Chances are, editors will be scanning your email and this will help emphasize the most important information.
5. Include your stats
You will also want to include some stats. For example, a blogger may want to pitch a craft tutorial that they have posted on their website. Give notable stats such as how many times the project was pinned, how many page views it got and if it was featured on other media outlets. If the post had past success, it’s probably a safe bet for an editor.
Our Halloween Caprons- Apron with a Cape is one idea I recently pitched. This project was pinned over 2,000 times and was featured on a local TV station so I was sure to add these stats to my media pitch, linking over to the feature.
6. Pitch one idea
It’s a good idea to pitch one idea at a time. Put your best foot forward with ONE item, you’ll lose their attention if you’ve got too many ideas.
7. Catchy subject
This is just as important, if not more important than what you put in your media pitch. The subject line usually determines if the email will be opened or not. Use a captivating subject line to get them to open the email and be careful not to look spammy. Here are a few more ideas for writing your subject line.
8. Include a link
Be sure to include a link to your post if it has been published, if not you should still link to your website. If they like you’re idea, they’ll want to check things out.
9. Don’t give up
You may get a ‘no thanks’ or maybe no response on your first pitch, but don’t give up. Take each pitch as a lesson for perfecting your skills. These tips may not work for all editors and journalists so you may want to tweak a few things.
My first blog pitch was to a family magazine. To my surprise, I got a response the next day. Even though the editor loved my idea, the magazine had all ready closed that topic so she couldn’t use it. She did however, give me a contact from another magazine to pitch my ideas to– so I count that pitch as a win! Now I have another contact to pitch my ideas to.
You may feel uncomfortable with approaching editors on your own, so I’ve got another FREE tool that can help you get some extra exposure. It’s called HARO, or short for Help a Reporter Out. It’s a branch of Cision which allows reporters world-wide to ask for expert help on their stories. Simply sign up for the email notifications and respond to any stories you can lend any expertise to. Many businesses have received big-time exposure using this tool. There’s nothing better than easy and free publicity!
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