Gini Dietrich: Six Tips for Pitching Journalists and Bloggers

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It’s 2018 and communicators, SEO experts, marketers, and content creators still haven’t figured out how to effectively pitch media and bloggers—and get results.

It starts with relationships.

And yet…we seem to think we can pull a list, write one email, and send it out.

Although it never, ever works, we continue to do it this way. Isn’t that the pure definition of insanity?

Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are pitching.

How do you feel when you receive an email that starts like this?

“Hi, <your name>!

My name is XX, and I’m the founder of <company you don’t care about>. We’re about to open up in <your city>, and I figured since you’re the <your title> at <your company>, you’d be perfect to connect with.

Our mission is to introduce great companies to the <our features and benefits>.

I’d love an opportunity to show you what we’ve built. There is no cost to get on our platform.

Let me know if you have 5 minutes to hop on a call this week.”

You ignore it because it’s not a good fit for you—nor is it something you care about, which the person would know had they actually looked at your company website.

A few days later, you receive a follow-up email:

“I wanted to reach back out to you because I think there’s a great opportunity for us to work together.

Do you have time this week to hop on a quick call?

Appreciate it!”

Again, not a good fit and your inbox is already flowing over, so you just delete it.

A few days later, you receive yet another email:

“I know we’ve not been able to connect…yet. I’d love to chat with you to answer any questions you may have about our service. Do you have any availability this week?”

And then one more:

“I haven’t been able to reach you, which leads me to believe something is wrong. Please respond to let me know you’re OK. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll assume you’re trapped under a bookcase and will send help.”

While clever, it still doesn’t work… So you delete yet another email.

What if You Could Have 100% Results?

Perhaps, if you’re a nicer person than me, you respond to tell them you’re not a good fit for whatever it is they’re shilling.

In my experience, that just opens the door for them to keep emailing you to tell you why you’re wrong.

And, when you receive pitches from content creators to be featured on your blog, your email workload suddenly doubles.

Hence, my cynicism.

But what if you were to devise a program that got results every time you sent an email?

Every blogger, news outlet, and publication responded with a resounding yes! They want you to contribute content.

I’m telling you. You can do it. But it takes time. It takes patience. And it takes a strategic approach.

It all starts with relationships.

Don’t Get Yourself Disqualified

Let me give you an example.

For the past nine years, we have worked with guest contributors at Spin Sucks.

In the beginning, we needed content badly and would accept pretty much everyone.

The past couple of years, though, we’ve become pickier—as our brands grow, so does our ability to pick and choose.

Because of that, we’ve created guidelines, which we’ve published on our site, so everyone knows what to expect.

And yet…

There are five things that can disqualify you immediately:

  1. You don’t go to the site, see what we write about, and customize your pitch appropriately.
  2. You completely ignore our guidelines and process.
  3. When you don’t hear back five minutes after you fill out our application, you find my email address and complain about my team. (This really, truly happens. More often than you’d think.)
  4. If you suggest a topic about something we don’t write about and we’ve never heard of you.
  5. The content you want us to publish has already been published elsewhere—or it fails our plagiarism check (you’d be surprised).

We get pitches for small business IT consulting, black hat SEO techniques, Oscars grab bags, U.S. tax day, and experts pontificating on the latest political news.

But if you have a topic that’s a little off the beaten path and we know you because you’ve built a relationship with us, we’re more willing to work with you to make it fit.

Here are some tips to be sure you will have results every time you pitch your idea.

Build a Relationship

Did I already say that?

It’s pretty easy to find bloggers, influencers, journalists, and content creators on Twitter.

Create a list and scan it daily. Start engaging. It actually works!

As well, comment on and share their content.

I guarantee, if you show up in the comments of Spin Sucks, we are going to respond, and we are going to pay attention to you.

It works this way for everyone. We all want our content read and shared.

Do Your Research

Nothing says, “I’m lazy” more than receiving an email pitch from someone pitching you on something you don’t cover.

Back in the day, we had to order a publication, wait for it to arrive in the mail, read it, figure out who we wanted to pitch, create the pitch, find their phone number, and call them.

Today, it’s far easier.

You can do all of that work in about three minutes—compared to the three weeks it used to take.

There is absolutely no reason you don’t do your research.

Customize Your Pitch List

Which leads me to my third tip: customize your pitch list.

Let’s say your organization sells biology lab equipment to schools.

Go to Google and search “biology lab equipment.”

If I do that (your results will be a bit different, based on where you are in the world), there are three sites on the first page of Google results that have a blog and accept contributed content.

If I go to page two of results, I find four more that make sense for my business.

Now I have seven blogs and media outlets that are good targets for me.

While it’s not hundreds of people, I know I can get seven pieces of content placed pretty easily.

Or, I can go into a media list software, pull a list of outlets, send one email…and wait.

I’d be lucky to get seven responses.

It’s far more effective to customize your list this way.

Find Editorial Calendars or Guidelines

The most sophisticated media outlets and blogs will have published editorial calendars and/or guidelines for pitching them.

Even if they don’t have that, they will have an email address and a line or two about how to pitch them.

Find that on their site and use it.

If you don’t, you may be disqualified before you have a chance to pitch your content idea.

Don’t do that to yourself.

Take the extra 90 seconds to find their guidelines and make sure what you’re about to send fits.

Don’t Pitch Already Published Content

In the early days of digital marketing, experts would publish content, infographics, or videos.

They then would send a link to a bunch of bloggers and journalists and ask them to link to it from their own content.

This practice is still done by some SEO specialists, and it does not work. Don’t do it.

The other thing that doesn’t work is creating content, publishing it on your site, and then sending the link to a bunch of bloggers and journalists to see if they want to re-publish it.

While syndication works, this is the opposite of that.

No one wants to run something you’ve already published. They want exclusive and unpublished content.

You can always repurpose it on your own site later (at least a month later), but give third-party influencers the chance to publish it first.

Don’t Appear Desperate

Nearly every journalist and blogger gets hundreds of pitches every day.

That’s why the guidelines and editorial calendars exist. They just cannot respond to every email.

But if you follow the process and have read it takes three weeks to hear back, wait three weeks.

There is nothing wrong with following up, but do wait the requisite time before doing so.

How to Pitch Spin Sucks

If you want to be published on Spin Sucks, we are always accepting valuable, educational, funny content that fits our vision—to change the perception people have of the PR industry.

Just remember to follow the tips above, pitch something relevant, follow our process, and for the love of all things good and mighty, do not email me to tattle on my team.

They will get back to you, even if the content isn’t the right fit.

Now go forth and prosper.