No one wants to spend the time and energy it takes to write a pitch and send it, only to hear nothing back. The first thing you need to do is ask yourself if you're sending your pitch to the right outlet and person. If the answer to that is a resounding, "YES!" then I've got a checklist of sorts below that you can run through right now to be sure you aren't serving as your own pitching roadblock by including any of these mistakes in your pitch!
You Don't Get to the Point Quickly/There is No Point
"Hi! My name is Sabina and I started XYZ business. Here is a paragraph - or six - about e. Write about me!" Um, no. That's not how it works. Congrats for being a business owner but that alone isn't going to get you the press your biz needs and deserves.
When you email a member of the press your mission is to get your point across to them in a quick, clear and concise way. That point could be a story with a timely hook, a fresh take on a hot topic in the news or some other information of value for their readers or viewers. The problem is, more often than not business owners fail to get to that point - that one point, no more no less - and instead they turn the email into a:
- (Way too long) Essay about their business
- The story - they write the story they want to see in the press, they don't simply pitch the story angle
- Personal Biography or About Us Statement
- Introduction to their business with no "ask" or "offer" - yeah, you run a business, so what? Why are you reaching out to them, what's the hook?
Before pressing send, you need to be sure you have one point/offer/ask on the table and that it's not buried somewhere at the bottom of the page, it's clear within the first sentence or two. Listen, I know you're excited to share your business and you have a lot to say, and that moment will come. But in order to get to that moment you need to make it crysal clear via a simple and irresistable pitch why the editor or producer should be interested in enough to open the email, want to hear more and reply to you. Don't hide or forget the angle!
RELATED CLASS: How To Write The Perfect Pitch (Template Included!)
Your Subject Line Sucks
Hey, sorry to be harsh, but sometimes tough love is the only thing that will get you from here to there. There is the world of press answering your emails and stories of you and your biz appearing on TV, online and in magazines. Subject lines are tough. Subject lines are an art form unto themselves. For those reasons, there's no reason to be hard on yourself if you're not rocking them at the moment. Here are a few Do's and Don'ts that will make them easier for you to perfect:
- Don't make it so witty, mysterious or unclear that the recipient sees no value in opening it. Sometimes people do this to "trick' the press into opening it, sometimes people do it to be clever. Don't. Just be clear and intriguing (if warranted) in your subject line. Make them feel like they want and need to open it.
- Don't simply put your company's name in the subject line. Your company name means nothing to someone who has never heard of it.
- Do put the "good stuff" as close to the left side of your subject line as possible. Here's the deal: most of the people you email will be reading emails off their smartphones. People read left to right. The faster you can get to the point in your email, the more likely it's going to be opened. Make it too long and a smartphone - heck even a computer - will cut off your subject line.
You Write One Giant Block of Text
You know what I do 80% of the time that I see an email from someone I don't know that is paragraph up on paragraph - or one giant block - of text? I don't read it. Sometimes I delete it (if I can't tell within a few sentences how it is of value to me) or I put it into my digital "I'll read this later" pile, and I forget about it. I'm a busy gal, I don't have time to be the archeologist digging for the long, lost point of your email.
The press feel the same way. They are busy and like any human, the thought of reading nearly a page of text from someone you don't know is not appealing. Stop doing that! Instead, do this:
- Include bullet points in your pitch. This is where the eyes will be drawn so use this real estate wisely!
- Embed images if you can in order to illustrate your product, tips or yourself.
- Write shorter sentence. Learn how to write magnetic and to-the-point copy. It's a challenge but you should practice it every day.
Making these tweaks to the body of your emails will change the way people read them and respond to them.
You're Not Customizing Your Email the Right Way
Not customizing your email the right way can mean you're making one (or a few) mistakes. They include:
- Sending your pitch email via an email distribution platform like MailChimp, Constant Contact or Mad Mimi. Listen, these are great for email lists with subscribers who opt in on their own, but they are a big no-no for personal pitches. Firstly, people can tell you added them to a mass email list (boo!) and secondly, they make it impossible to customize what you say to them about how you'll fit into their outlet.
- Failing to explain how or where you'll fit into their outlet. Like I just mentioned above, a winning pitch makes it clear you know what section of a magazine or segment on a show that you're a good match for. The more you can show that you've researched and know you belong in this outlet - and where - the more you'll be thinking and acting like a publicist who gets results!
- Failing to say hello at the start of the email, failing to introduce yourself and failing to include a link to your website immediately. I like to call this the digital handshake part of your pitch. You wouldn't go up to a stranger and just start talking without introducing yourself and shaking hands (or a hug, if you're me) and you don't do that when pitching either!