10 Pitches That Landed Top-Tier Placements and Why They Worked

There are innumerable articles out there giving tips on how to pitch journalists, but most don’t contain specific pitch examples outlining why they were successful. In outreach, imitation can be very effective, so we’ve compiled 10 pitches with commentary that elaborates on why they resulted in exclusive placements with top-tier publishers.

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Campaign: Dying to be Barbie

Publisher: Huffington Post

Subject Line: “Is a Barbie Body Possible [Exclusive Study – Infographic]”


Hi Emma,

Earlier this week Huffington Post Women covered Barbie without Makeup, which has been a viral hit on the Internet. Serendipitously, my team is about to launch an infographic which builds upon this topic, by studying “Is a Barbie Body Possible?”

My team came up with a photo-realistic rendering of Barbie, which aims to demonstrate just how bizarre a life-sized Barbie would actually look. We compare Barbie to our real life model, and uncover the impossible physical proportions of the doll idolized as perfection by so many. The results are jaw dropping. You can check out the infographic here, via this private imgur link.

Would you be interested in covering this exclusive?

Why It Worked

  • Subject line evokes curiosity while simultaneously conveying that the study contains original research in an easily digestible format.
  • First sentence ties in the study being pitched with a similar topic that went viral, proving that there is already an audience.
  • Pitch ends with confirmation that if the journalist chooses to cover this campaign, they are guaranteed exclusivity (which is important to top-tier publishers).

Campaign: Superhero Hideouts

Publisher: CNET

Subject Line: “Iron Man has the best supersuit, but which hero has the best supersuite?”


Hi Michael,

Thanks for sharing Kode’s awesome iron man mashups! My favorite is “Stark Kent”.

Iron Man does have the coolest gear, but which superhero can claim the coolest hideout?

I’m thinking your readers may find my team’s visualization of some of the most iconic hero hideouts interesting too. We sorted 35 hideouts by size and scale and highlighted all the special features! Do you think this would interest your readers? I’d love to get your feedback on this.

Why It Worked

  • Subject line effectively conveys the content of the email, creates a curiosity gap, and is witty.
  • First section shows that she’s researched the journalist and provides a smooth transition into the content being pitched.
  • Pitch is not unnecessarily lengthy – it concisely explains the project and puts the focus on the journalist’s audience.

Campaign: Tech Devices

Publisher: The Atlantic

Subject Line: “You say, ‘Start it,’ I say, ‘Boot it;’ Either Way, It Will Turn the Whole Thing On”


Hi Alexis,

When my dad’s computer froze the other night, he told me he needed to “reboot it.”  Reboot it? Although this comes from someone who recently learned how to use “lol,” I wondered if this was an archaic phrase or if it was just me.

Given your tech coverage, I thought you might find this project interesting.  My team recently polled over 1,000 participants and there are still people out there who say “booting,” with just over 15 percent of participants using a variation of that term in reference to starting a computer.  You can find more information in this flipbook (UN: editor, PW: access).

Is this something your readers might find interesting?  I’d appreciate your feedback and be happy to answer any additional questions you might have.

Why It Worked

  • First section establishes a personal connection while remaining relevant to the project being pitched.
  • The body of the pitch gives validity to the project by calling out a large sample size; additionally, there is a callout to an interesting stat with hard numbers, which is imperative when pitching tech writers.

Campaign: Vahs vs. Vace

Publisher: Mental Floss

Subject Line: “How you say these 6 words tells others a significant amount about you, study says”



After reading your recent post on the spoken languages in states besides English and Spanish, I was shocked that so many states knew German. Also, the fact that Michigan knows Arabic and Oregon knows Russian threw me for a loop. Very interesting, though!

Given your post, I’m passing along my team’s embeddable study that looks at how people pronounce some of the most divisive words in our language. Called Vahs vs Vace, it also measures what people think of others who say certain words a certain way. Some of the findings include:

  • More respondents believe that a person pronouncing niche as “neesh”  is more educated than someone pronouncing it as “nitch”
  • 64% of respondents assume that those who  pronounce vase “vace” are “down to earth”, while 54% of those who pronounce it as “vahs” are assumed to be “stuck up”, but also classy
  • 31% of respondents that pronounce roof as “rewf” are immediately viewed as rural

Where do you and your readers side with these 6 words? I’d love if you covered this for Mental Floss. Are you interested in the exclusive?

Why It Worked

  • This project is very dense with a lot of information, so breaking up the most interesting stats into several bullet points allows the journalist to digest the information more easily.
  • The stats call attention to what others think about people when they pronounce words a certain way. This is great ego-bait, which journalists know elicits curiosity from their audience.

Campaign: Trading Time

Publisher: Business Insider

Subject Line: “Retirement: What about the ignorant millennials?”



I enjoyed the visuals in your recent take on retirement. But what about younger generations, an angle you could look at for a future follow up? How should they look at retirement, and will that million dollar mark you explained be an absolute for them?

My team was thinking along the same lines, and we created Trading Time (password: access), a visualization that looks at how many weeks of work it takes to buy based on US median income, and also how many weeks each personalized income will spend doing so. Did you know that over the course of 50 years, the average person spends double the amount on entertainment rather than education? Or that the average wedding costs $18,000, but the average person spends double that on 20 rounds of golf per year?

I thought you and your readers would enjoy (and benefit) from this visualization. I’d love to partner with you this exclusive, and if you have any feedback and/or thoughts, I’m all ears.

Why It Worked

  • Suggests an angle for a follow-up story based on a previous story that performed well.
  • The stats included in the pitch are surprising but also leave out small bits of information (like how much the average person actually spends on entertainment), sparking an urge to dig deeper into the project.

Campaign: Foreigners Map America

Publisher: Daily Mail

Subject Line: “Google Wants Chutzpah? Then Don’t Ask Me (or Anyone) About U.S. Geography”


Hi Vicky,

Very cool article on Google Smarty Pins. Ironically enough, the one category I avoided was geography.

And apparently I’m not alone. In a recent study, my team challenged foreigners (password: movoto) to label the 50 states on a U.S. map (just like when we asked U.S. citizens earlier this year). Regardless of where you’re from, the test was harder than it looked.

I’d like to offer you the exclusive.

Would you be interested in sharing this on Daily Mail?

Why It Worked

  • Project builds on a previous article by this journalist, but segments by US citizens and foreigners for more extensive analysis (and a new story).
  • Pitch ends with a strong call to action.

Campaign: Vice Capitals

Publisher: Business Insider

Subject Line: 450K tweets reveal America’s dope, dank, drunk, dirty towns


Yo Dylan!

Check out this twitter study: American Vice Capitals.

From 450K geotagged tweets, we ranked U.S. sin cities by addiction.

Interested in sharing with BI?

Why It Worked

  • This pitch is noticeably short. Having worked with this writer before, we knew that he prefers pitches that are as concise as possible, so we boiled down the pitch to a total of four sentences.
  • Even though the pitch is short, it’s effective. Between the subject line and the actual pitch, you get an accurate representation of the project as a whole.

Campaign: 33 Most Expensive Movie Props

Publisher: Vox

Subject Line: “These are most expensive 33 movie props sold”



Even though I’ve been anticipating the Guardians of the Galaxy release, I haven’t been in town to see it. But I’ve been reading up on it, and I thought your commentary was easily the best I’ve read thus far, because of its thoroughness. Can’t wait to see it!

I’m sure that when I walk out of the theatre, I’ll probably be wondering how much money James Gunn spent on the props, which is exactly why my team created a study that looks at the 33 Most Expensive Movie Props. From Goldfinger to the Lord of the Rings, it compares the prices of lightsabers, time machines and proton packs. Can you guess which Hollywood star’s dress topped the list at $4.6 million?

Are you interested in being the first to publish this with Vox?

Why It Worked

  • Introduction is not just an empty compliment – it elaborates on why the journalist’s commentary was the best.
  • The project being pitched is linked multiple times. This is not always necessary, but sometimes journalists skim pitches quickly and don’t see that the assets are linked, so this eliminates unnecessary back and forth.

Campaign: U.S. Marriage Rates

Publisher: Huffington Post

Subject Line: “I’m about to hit 30, should I just pack up my game now?”


Hi Taryn,

I’m about to make the big exit out of my 20’s, so that study was kind of a bummer for me! I know it’s mostly biological, but I also think it reinforces the fact that our society will always value youth.

Many couples are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will take up one of the same-sex marriage appeals this week. My team wanted to know how fast or slow the decline in marriage rates has been since it started dropping in 1970. We also broke the data up to see how the legalization of gay marriage in certain states had an impact.

Did allowing same-sex marriage affect how many people decide to tie the knot?

  • 24 states saw the decline in marriage rates become even faster after 2004, when the first state legalized same-sex marriage
  • 25 states plus Washington, DC, saw the decline in marriage rates slow down after 2004

That led us to conclude that while marriage rates are still declining, the overall speed of this decline does not seem to have been accelerated, or slowed around the time of 2004.

See more data from the project in its entirety here. (Password: movoto) I’d love to offer you the exclusive on this.

Why It Worked

  • Draws attention to a related trending topic that has gotten widespread coverage, showing that this project is also likely to do well with readers.
  • Provides quantitative data on a controversial topic, allowing for a stance to be taken that is backed up by hard data.

Campaign: The Fashion of Hip-Hop

Publisher: MTV

Subject Line: “I’m trippin’, I’m caught up in the moment right? Cause it’s Louis Vuitton Don night”


Hi Gaby,

Thanks for sharing the crazy story on that time Ye schooled you on design and inspiration – that is amazing – so amazing.

Given your post and MTV’s coverage of fashion week Paris, I wanted to share this exclusive infographic with you first:

The Fashion of Hip Hop

  • The Queen Bee topped the list with most luxe brand name-drops over a tight beat.
  • Nas topped Roc-a-wear founder Jay right behind Lil’ Kim confirming Nas is Like…fashion forward.
  • Gucci gives the rest of the brands the boot with the most mentions across the board – by a landslide.
  • And while Migos certainly reiterates that he digs Donatella’s designs, Versace reigned NY hip-hop with Lil’ Kim, B.I.G., and Ghostface as biggest fans.  

I would love to see MTV cover this first.

Are you interested in the exclusive?

Why It Worked

  • This pitch is hyper-personalized and shows the journalist that the person reaching out knows what they’re talking about when it comes to hip-hop music. This is one of the niches where proving your credibility is imperative, and this pitch does a great job of conveying that.


As you can see, there are many different pitching styles that can be successful; there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to outreach. By doing your research, applying the principles outlined above, and pitching high-quality content, you increase your odds of success exponentially.

Do you have a pitch that resulted in a top-tier placement? Share it in the comments below for others to see!

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