Email pitches are boring. Trust me. In my work writing for various publications like Wired, the Telegraph & co, I’ve received my fair share. You may have heard it before but seriously: you have no idea how generic they get.
As a result, before you know it, the very fact you’re receiving a story as an email pitch makes you click into the mode where you’re preparing to dismiss it. Your mindset is aggressive. Don’t believe me? Read any one of the huge range of pitching tips from journalists on the web.
There’s plenty of advice out there about how you should write the perfect pitch. It’s not a new challenge and a lot of the good advice out there is as relevant now as it was when it was first posted. Instead, I’m going to offer you a variety of prompts to help create a different kind of pitch and stand out in the inbox.
Call it a foot in the door, a calling card — whatever you like. The idea here is to break you out of your normal habits and help land your point with memorable clarity.
Here’s five tricks to try something new. But remember, if your story is boring, nothing in the world will (or should) help you.
1. The video pitch
That’s right, we’ve gone 0 – 60 here. Yes, you’ll have to quickly convince the recipient to click and watch your YouTube link — but even the most hardened journalist probably has time to check in and see if the result is a trainwreck.
Keep it to 30 seconds, make sure to include something visually interesting and follow all the basic important steps in recording videos (lighting facing the speaker, mic within a handspan of their mouth, don’t say “um”.)
Having said that, there are ways of taking this concept too far:
2. The sponsored pitch
This is the first of our “outside the inbox” inclusions. Given the targeting power of social channels, you should be able to present an article about your story to the right sort of audience with a relatively efficient budget.
Now, you aren’t going to get pinpoint accuracy and, unless you want to upload 5000 targets at once (CLUE: THIS IS BAD PRACTICE), you won’t be able to target by email address. But, if you can slip in a few messages in their stream, you’ll create a way of seeing if they are interested in the story, where you only pay if they actually click through.
There are plenty of intriguing new opportunities here, just like in the early days of search where marketers would target PPC at potential conference speakers or employers. Get stuck in and have a play. Who knows, you might accidentally hit some broader influencers as well as the ones you already know about (CLUE: THIS IS GOOD PRACTICE.)
3. The (really) indirect pitch
There’s no other way to say it. Relationships matter. Once someone knows and recognises you, your chances of them entertaining your ideas grows. Do whatever you think it will take to get their attention.
By that, I’m thinking stalk their Twitter and find out what they really want and need right now. Is it more contact with someone you can introduce them to? Is it a lead on a story that might be up their alley? Do they just want an excuse to get out of the office?
Is it just gratitude and a note you’re enjoying their work? Seriously, don’t underestimate dropping people a note to say you think an article they wrote was great. You think people who publish thousands of words all day are entirely free of ego?
No, do not offer them cash or anything ridiculous like that — there’s clearly a line here. But if you listen for a moment and ignore your own immediate need, you might lay the foundations that will support it further down the line.
This tweet sums up the goal in many different dimensions:
@mappingbabel @colinjordan PR BOT IS HERE FOR THE INFORMATION [[[HUMAN]] [[PREPARE TO BE ENGAGED]]
— WARNING: Ed Zitron (@edzitron) February 11, 2015
4. The one line pitch
Say it in a sentence and it’s easy to process and reply to. Get it?
5. Don’t pitch
It’s fine to sit this one out. If you’ve got a major announcement coming up and there’s something little in the mean time, maybe just post it on your site, safe in the confidence that anyone interested will see it on your social feeds, your newsletter and other channels.
The balance of inbound and outbound is something so many companies get wrong. It’s all about cadence. Everyone knows businesses operate in ups and downs — the quiet periods are important since they suggest a real story: Your team is hard at work.
That’s a good thing. Stop pretending you’re hyperactive super-beings. When there’s a real story, talk about it. Until then, bide your time and you only increase the value of that upcoming news.
Just as important as “what you say” is how you say it. Try our Prezly's PR Software and make sure your email pitches at least look the part.