7 ways to go the extra mile on your pitches

November 3, 2011

Public relations

Do you go the extra mile when putting together your pitches? (Image credit: Kingsenglish.info)


Got a pitch for my blog today. I was kind of honored at first. I don’t get many pitches for my blog. Then I read the pitch. And I was no longer honored. I was just annoyed.

I’m not going to call out the company. But let’s just say they did a few things I wouldn’t recommend doing in your pitches:

- The pitch was asking for a review and giveaway. I have never done a review or giveaway on my blog. Something anyone who read my blog would see pretty quickly.
- The pitch included the following: “I’d love to have you link over to us and send some readers our way for the holidays!” Ah, how lovely. Not.
- The pitch was on a topic I have never covered once in any of my blog posts.

This is not another “check out this horrible pitch” blog post. We’ve all seen those before. But it is a “are we getting lazy as an industry when it comes to how we pitch” post. And it makes me wonder if enough of us are going the extra mile when it comes to our pitching.

7 ways to go the extra mile when writing a pitch

1. Read and refer. It’s fundamental to read the writing of the person who you are pitching. It’s above and beyond to read several posts or articles and refer to actual events or people you read about in your pitch.

2. Tie it back to you. When you’re writing a pitch, you’re also building a relationship. For that to happen, the person you’re pitching has to learn something about you too. If the blogger mentioned she likes Bon Jovi and you are a fan, work that into your pitch.

3. Use the product you are pitching. This won’t work all the time, but if you can use the product your selling as part of your pitch, do it. Pitching a camera, add a picture to your pitch. Not only is it a great way to show what the product can do, but it also puts your creativity on display and helps you stand out.

4. Introduce yourself up front. You’d do it if you were meeting this person face to face. Do it in the email as well. And if you have a common acquaintance, mention that person early in the pitch too. Helps your credibility.

5. Include suggested tweets and Facebook posts. You’re not being presumptuous by doing this. Many bloggers and journalists are super busy and you can help save them some time this way. But always label them “suggested” tweets and Facebook posts. That implies you don’t expect them to copy what you sent word for word.

6. Show your knowledge of their community. When I am researching a blogger or journalist, the first place I always go is the about section or bio. Find where they live and mention something about it in your pitch. I recently pitched someone from St. Louis and started off talking World Series, not the product I was sharing. When the blogger responded showing interest, the first thing she mentioned in her email was baseball, not the product.

7. Follow up like crazy. If you get a placement from your pitch, follow up and mention the story. If you don’t get a reply to your pitch, follow up (at least once). If you see something that reminds you of the person you pitched, use it as an opportunity to touch base. Consistent follow up keeps you top of mind with your contacts. And it can be the difference between working with a blogger once vs developing a long-term relationship.

See, going the extra mile isn’t really going that much further than most of us go. But like with everything else in life, it’s the little things that people remember.

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Anthony_Rodriguez 26 pts

These are really easy things to do. It's just amazing at the number of times I am hearing that it doesn't happen. I hope people start reading these posts and start applying them. It will build relationships much more smoothly and heck it might actually produce the results these pitchers are actually looking for.

Shelley Pringle 43 pts

Great suggestions, Justin. I especially liked the way you tied the World Series into your pitch in point #4. It's amazing how even pretty sophisticated social media agencies are not following some of the basic rules of blogger outreach by not reading the blogger's posts or by addressing them as 'dear blogger.'

My latest conversation: 5 things Mayor Rob Ford can teach corporate communicators

jenzings 98 pts

I'm with Shonali--this is the second time in recent days I've seen the suggested tweets thing, and that just feels weird to me.

We get off topic pitches all the time on Media Bullseye. I've actually thought of starting a personal bingo-type card for how off topic they are. Examples: a pitch for cheese (I love cheese, but it's a tad off topic for a social media/communications blog), and a child-focused dinosaur exhibit (huh?). I also remember pitches for a band camp for tween girls.

It's utterly bizarre, and clearly a "spray & pray" method that is being used.

JGoldsborough 220 pts moderator

jenzings I just can't believe people still use spray and pray these days. Even harder to believe is that it's working. But it must be, because people keep doing it and paying for it. See my thoughts on suggested tweets below. Sounds like we may have come across a "to each his/her own" topic. I have heard from some that they seem weird or presumptuous. I have heard from others they are helpful and a time saver. Think I will continue to offer, but ask first,

Glad you stopped by. Hope to see you again.

Shonali 932 pts

I agree with almost everything you say, Justin. For my part, though, if someone is pitching me for the first time (which happens every day), I'd rather not get suggested tweets, etc. My approach is that I don't even know if I'll like this (product or whatever), so it would be a little presumptuous for anyone to give me tweets, etc. Now, if someone has already built a relationship with me, or is a repeat pitcher, then not only do I expect them to show that in their follow-up pitches, but THEN they can give me suggested tweets, etc.

I hate the "link to us" crap as well. Ridiculous.

My latest conversation: Where Are Our Fundamentals?

JGoldsborough 220 pts moderator

Shonali Link to us. Please. Pretty please! Be your best friend!! Oh good grief. Good thoughts on suggested tweets. I have actually had that conversation in my head -- Is it too presumptuous? For that very reason, and because it saves time (just being honest), I have started mentioning in my pitches that I would be happy to send a suggested tweet and Facebook post if it would be helpful. That way I put the ball in the blogger's court.

Now I probably would send them as follow up if the blogger didn't tell me they wanted them one way or the other. Because I have heard a lot of bloggers say they prefer when a brand/agency sends them. But that said, probably best practice to see if you can figure out what the person you are pitching prefers and customize to their liking.

Hope all is well with you. Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!


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