¼ of reporters receive 51-100 pitches a week (Cision, Q2 State of the Media Report, 2020).
With 100 pitches you’re competing against, how do you make sure that your email doesn’t get deleted or worse, marked as spam?
With just a couple of minutes of journalists/editors’ attention (at the most!), make these four specific edits to your outreach to spark their interest.
1. PR professionals must keep researching.
While time might be limited for your team to get coverage or a new backlink, without at least five minutes of research into the outlet you’re pitching to, you may be digging your own grave.
Here is a checklist of non-negotiables that you must know before your outreach begins:
Do you have the right person’s first name?
- This might sound straightforward but it is often overlooked, even by the experts. Do your research using the Buzzmarker tool as you browse the desired website or check LinkedIn and find who works as a writer/editor from the outlet you’re interested in.
- For example, if you were interested in guest posting on the BuzzStream blog but were having a hard time confirming you’ve found the right person, go to LinkedIn, type in BuzzStream, and click on the employees.
- Out of the options listed, Stephen shows to be the best-fit person to speak to.
- To double confirm, check the blog itself to see if the person you found has any presence there.
- From the looks of it, it seems that Stephen would be a safe person to reach out to with questions about guest posting opportunities or to be included in an upcoming story.
- This step also shows that you’ve researched that this person is still at the company. There’s nothing more frustrating for you than if you spent time building a pitch for a specific person, and you receive a response from the person saying they have moved on to a new company.
Does this person write on the topic you’re pitching?
- Browse the blog/media outlet and make sure that what you’re pitching would interest them somehow and that they did not just publish something similar.
- For example, if your story is about B2B SaaS and you’re pitching the New York Times during a season when they’re only covering COVID-19 stories, your efforts can be better utilized elsewhere.
- What data can you share with the right journalist to show that your idea will help educate their audience and prove that it serves them even over you?
Image from FRACTL and displayed on PR News Daily.
Did you browse their blog/outlet?
The “need for speed” often can cause even marketing experts to take the time to check:
- Is it only writers from the outlet’s team who contribute? If so, don’t pitch them your guest post.
- Are they only releasing new posts about COVID-19 or a different national issue? Don’t pitch them about your company’s latest charity event.
- If you don’t look into these things, your ask will come off as a waste of time and show that you aren’t respecting their time by doing your research.
2. Get your email opened.
As an editor of the blog at Directive, I’ve received my fair share of emails with subject lines that made me delete posts before I even opened the email.
As expert-level marketers, it is imperative to check-in and make sure that you simplify your touchpoint and show that you are credible.
For example: “Guest post idea: A GTM Search Marketing Strategy for Turbulent Times – Featured in Marketo, Hubspot, MediaPost.”
Why does this work?
It tells the editor precisely what your email is about and that you’re credible. It piques their interest by telling them where you’ve written previously. These three outlets happen to be credible sites with high domain authorities.
Friendly reminders (yes even for the experts):
- Keep it short and sweet. You want to catch your receiver’s attention but avoid having a subject line that is unreadable and too long.
- Be authentic. I received a guest post email for our blog at Directive recently that said, “I love the pieces you publish.” I don’t know what this post is about, and it doesn’t get to any specifics. So, it ends up getting deleted.
3. You have their attention for 5 more seconds.
While you may think you need to share details about who you are and utilize a witty intro, you don’t.
The editor wants to know why you’re emailing them and if you’re going to help them or waste their time.
“Directly tell me in one or two sentences why this is important for the public to know about – not just why it’s important for the company or client.”
–2020 Cision State of the Media Survey Journalist Respondent
- Be a human and making sure you’re utilizing empathy, especially during current times.
- Next, say right away, in the shortest and punchiest method, exactly what you’re looking for.
After you get their attention, you can provide further details to show why you’re worth their time and give specific examples.
It’s now time to share who you are, your role, and previous places you/your colleague/or your client has been featured – but not all of them.
You don’t want to send a whitepaper email that is overwhelmingly long.
- Guest post outreach: Share two of your recent articles that have been published in relevant and quality outlets.
(Don’t have any? Write for your own blog or company’s blog.)
- Podcast interviews: Share any speaking videos you have (from conferences/webinars) or a previous podcast interview that is not a competitor to the show you’re pitching and has a different topic. The show you’re pitching most likely will want the topic for their show to be unique.
- Earned media interviews: Share two reasons that show how you, your company, or clients have been successful (an award, previous earned media piece/video, etc.). You’ll want them to think, “featuring this brand would be something that my audience would be intrigued to learn more about”.
Once you quickly share why you’re worth their time, think of how you’ll benefit them.
- Guest post outreach: Provide one or two (not seven) unique guest post topics, and explain why they would be a fit for their audience in quick bullet points. Again, avoid sharing every detail and keep it punchy.
- Podcast outreach: Include two potential interview topics and why they would be a fit for your guest to speak about with the host, that hasn’t been done before. Be specific as to why one of these topics will be something their audience wants to tune in for.
- Earned media interviews: Pitch a trend that your company fits or offer expertise on a timely issue that might match what this journalist is covering.
Keep in mind; if you’re pitching, you’re asking that person to add something to their already packed to-do list.
To get considered, you must provide them with something that has been researched, matched to their beat, and is not self-promotional. Self-promotional content is meant to be published on your own blog.
You don’t want a journalist writing on their public Twitter about your outreach:
4. Be discoverable.
Is your brand easily accessible on all social media platforms, sharing new content at least once a week?
This is powerful as a journalist comes to your page and may want to grab information about who you are and why your company/client is worth covering.
Also, follow and connect with the journalist on all of their social media channels so they can put a name to a face. Make a double connection by following them from your company pages as well.
Be almost too easy for them to access and learn about. Through multiple touchpoints, you’ll remind the journalist about your brand and why you are worth their time.
Are you found at the top of the search engine when a journalist looks for your industry?
As you can see below, when you type in “link building software”, this featured snippet pops up featuring BuzzStream.
Then right below in the top organic search results, you see BuzzStream again.
SEO rankings are incredibly powerful, especially in a season as more people are turning to digital media due to being stuck at home from the COVID-19 pandemic.
If a reporter is looking for the “best” in an industry, they’re going to go with a brand that is mentioned several times on the search engine results page (SERP), showing that they are a leader in their space.
Are you present on top industry lists?
Let’s say that a journalist is writing a time-sensitive piece on “Best Customer Engagement” tools.
For example, they go to G2.com and find the “Customer Service” main category and then the “Best Live Chat” category.
Third-party directories make it possible for journalists to skip the pitch part entirely. They can simply go find the “best” in the industry they’re writing about and go from there.
Is your brand present on these lists? If people are willing to check these lists for coffee spots and burgers, odds are they’re checking to see if your company is worth their time before they make a purchasing decision.
Less is more, and empathy wins.
Whether you’re pitching your guest post contributions, aiming to have a client featured on a podcast, or working to seal the deal on an earned media mention, PR professionals are challenged to say everything in less than a minute in their outreach – and keep it under five sentences.
More than anything, have empathy for the person on the other side.
Remember that he/she has a job, and the way you approach them and the data you provide can help them (and you) if you do it correctly.
Challenge yourself to think of new watering holes and top lists that you’re not on that can empower your brand.
As PR professionals in 2020, we end up wearing many hats – hey, no one said it was easy though.