by Julianne Smith
Everyone has a particular style and a way of doing things. There isn’t a hard and fast set of rules for how to exactly get your work published because everyone and every publication is different. Editors, reporters, producers and writers are people, too. They all have a different style. With that in mind, here are a few general tips for how to pitch the media and get results:
The best pitches are authentic. Things that are written by someone else, or too formal if that isn’t your style, aren’t as effective as words that come directly from you.
Skip The Press Release
Editors are more likely to respond favorably to personal, targeted and direct pitches. If you are sending a press release to a bunch of different editors you're essentially saying, “I just want you to know about my news, I don’t want you to actually write about my news.”
Keep It Short
Editors are busy, and while your news is the most important thing to you, your e-mail is probably one of a thousand in their inbox. Keep pitches short and to the point. If an editor opens up an e-mail and it is ten paragraphs long, they will delete it. Pack your pitch with important information and if they like what they see, they will seek out more.
Whether it is an email or phone call, here is an outline for a quick pitch: Always start by introducing yourself; give a short description of your company; say what it is that you want; provide your website for more information; and attach pictures so the designs can speak for themselves.
Ask for Something
If you are lucky enough to get an editor’s attention, make the most of it. Why are you reaching out? Just to say hi? If so, that is a waste of time and, frankly, that’s what coffee is for. If you are going to take the time to pitch an editor, be sure to actually ask for something. Don’t be rude, but make sure it is clear what you want so they know how to respond.
Do Your Research
Before you pitch, research the publication. Find out the right person to talk to and the right concept to pitch. Read past publications and think about where your company would fit in so that you can suggest it. Look to see if they have submission guidelines and follow them. Hint: if they just wrote about your topic, they aren’t going to write about it again anytime soon, so think of something different.
Seek out only those editors or publications that would be a good fit for your news. Sometimes it is more about saying your news to the right person or publication than what your actual news is. If it is the right fit, you will see results.
It can take a few contacts to get a response. Don’t give up. If it is a feature on your target list and you really want it, don’t just assume that they don’t want it if you don’t get a response. Keep following up until they say no or yes. You don’t want to pester, but be consistent in your follow up so that they know you are eager.
I could keep this list going on and on with different tips. But, the reality is that everyone needs to find their own style. It might take a few tries to see results, so keep practicing your pitches, fine-tuning your message and working on your delivery. If it didn’t work, ask yourself if it was the message or the messenger.
This post was originally published in August 2010.