EPISODE 10: HOW TO PITCH A JOURNALIST SO THEY ACTUALLY WANT TO INTERVIEW YOU
by Simone Sauter
Getting into magazines, newspapers, blogs and other online and offline publications is a powerful way to improve your visibility, position yourself as an expert in your niche and get clients with ease.
That’s why, in the last blog post we talked about how you can find those journalists who are already writing about topics in your niche. This will help you to connect with them and start taking your business to the next level.
Now I want to build more on what we covered and explain those essential ‘dos and don’ts’ that you need to be aware of when you reach out to that journalist and try to get yourself that publicity that counts.
Don’t think that you can just skip over this stuff and get in touch with whoever you want, whenever you want. If you get it wrong and don’t follow the ‘rules’, you could undo all your hard work, waste precious hours of your time and not get the results you’re looking for.
So, let me give you a step-by-step explanation on how you can expertly pitch that journalist and get the results you want.
Click on play and listen to this episode:
#1 START BY INTRODUCING YOURSELF
You want your email to be short and snappy so you can grab their attention and make them listen to what you have to say.
Use your elevator pitch and you won’t need to agonise over what you need to include as it’s already done for you. (If you haven’t done this yet, grab the FREE PR strategy workbook here.)
#2 PERSONALIZE YOUR EMAIL
There’s nothing worse than receiving an email which is so vague that you just know the sender has sent out a bunch of them. It feels rude, that person comes across as lazy and you’re hardly going to want to talk to them.
Show that journalist that you respect him or her, that you’ve done your research and you want to approach them personally. If you don’t know who you need to address your email to, then it’s time to do your research.
#3 SPELL THE NAME CORRECTLY
OMG, I can’t tell you how many emails I receive as an influencer with more than 100,000 readers where the person misspells my name! Again, this just comes across as lazy, uneducated and rude.
This is the first impression you’re going to make on this journalist, so really make sure you spell the name correctly.
#4 KEEP IT SHORT
Limit your email to 200 words. That’s all you need.
Journalists get hundreds and hundreds of emails a day. It’s incredible. They don’t have time to read an email with thousands of words, nor do they have time to reach out to you and ask for more information.
So keep it short, even if you’re dying to share more information about yourself. If they need extra info, you can always link to your about me page, your PR page, an article or anything else that provides useful background info.
#5 MAKE SURE THE EMAIL IS EASILY READABLE
Imagine you receive hundreds of emails a day and you open this email and then you just see this block of plain text. Your eyes can’t scan this content so you just click the ‘close’ button and then carry on with your day.
Yeah, not exactly the best way to get yourself and your business noticed, is it?
Instead, keep your sentences short, keep your language clear and make the entire email easy to read. Put the important parts of the text into bold (see more on this later) to make it as easy as possible for the journalist to scan your email.
#6 BE AUTHENTIC
Always remember to speak in your authentic voice, without using any fluffy or formal language at all.
A journalist is a person as well and he or she likes to be talked to like a human being. So don’t use language you wouldn’t normally use. Just be yourself, be open and offer them something of value.
#7 CREATE A SUBJECT LINE THAT STANDS OUT
The subject line of your email needs to be something that grabs the attention of the journalist and encourages them to read on. Get your creative juices flowing and come up with something good. You can do it!
#8 ASK YOURSELF, “IS THIS INTERESTING?”
Have you created your email in a way that the journalist will find interesting? Is it a topic that the journalist covers? Did you put in exactly the right amount of information- not too much and not too little? Check and double-check before you hit that send button.
#9 BE REACHABLE AND AVAILABLE
Once you’ve sent that email and reached out to that journalist, make sure that you’re reachable and available as well. If they get back to you with a request, answer it as soon as possible.
Seriously, journalists are under immense time pressure, they have a tight schedule and they don’t have time to wait. If you don’t answer fast enough, they will find someone else. So if you want to be featured, you need to be fast and responsive.
#10 DON’T BE A JOURNALISTS WORST NIGHTMARE!
Once you’ve sent that email, resist the urge to keep emailing, calling and checking to see if they received your message. It just shows that you don’t understand the way they work.
If they want to call, they will email you and they will ask you for an interview. Be patient!
#11 BUILD A RELATIONSHIP
Once you’ve reached out and they’ve come back to you in a positive way, invest plenty of time and effort into building that relationship.
Be of service. Give them something valuable. Provide them with what they want- a great story that relates to their audience.
#12 NEVER ASK A JOURNALIST TO ‘FEED’ YOU
Always wait until the journalist approaches you.
You should never ask them, ‘Can you please feed me? Can you please do this and that for me?’ It’s YOUR job to offer them amazing content that they’re interested in.
If you do this, they’ll come by themselves and ask you, ‘Hey, can you give me an interview? Can you give me any information around that? Do you maybe have an infographic about this topic?’
#13 BE AWARE OF THEIR DEADLINES
You’d be amazed how far in advance many magazines, blogs and other publications operate.
If I want to be featured in Cosmopolitan around Christmas, I need to reach out to them around August so they always have a couple of months of ‘lead time.’ Bear in mind that this can vary between publications.
#14 BE PATIENT
Don’t panic if they don’t get back to you straight away.
It doesn’t mean that you’ve messed up if that they’re not interested. They might save your details somewhere and then will reach out to you when they need you.
That’s happened to me many times.
For example, I reached out to a journalist at the beginning of the year and didn’t hear anything until August when I received an email saying;
‘Hey Simone! You wrote me this email at the beginning of the year. Now Christmas is coming up and I would really be interested in having you as an interview guest on my show. Would you be available for an interview?’
So this is how it works. You introduce yourself, you offer the journalist something, and then they will come back to you.
#15 ENJOY THE ‘RIPPLE EFFECT’
Excitingly, all the effort you’ve invested in creating your pitch email, reaching out to that journalist and building a relationship will pay off many times over, provided that you’ve followed my tips and done it right.
Journalists operate within a tight-knit community. They all talk with each other, read each other’s publications and get ideas and contacts from what they see both online and offline.
So, once you get featured, the chances are that you’ll be seen by other journalists who write about the same topic or work within the same niche and reach you to you too.
This happened to me. I had journalists reaching out to me saying;
‘Hey, I read the interview with you about relationships and heartbreak in [insert name of magazine], and I loved what you were saying. Would you be available for an interview in my magazine as well?’
The more of your time you invest in reaching out and building these relationships, the better results you’ll get.
Before I round up this article, I’d like to give you an example of what a powerful pitch actually looks like. Read through and use it as a template to construct your own email to those journalists, adding your own niche, passions, personality and ambitions.
EXAMPLE OF A PITCH TO A JOURNALIST
Now I want to give you a quick example of the pitch I used for my heartbreak coaching business in the very beginning.
Hello [insert well-researched name, spelling it correctly!],
My name is Simone Souter. I’m a heartbreak and self-love coach and I help women to overcome heartache faster, fall in love with themselves and create a happy life without a partner.
In my research, I found out that you write a lot about relationships. We’re approaching Christmas right now, which is a time when many couples break up and heartbreak is on the rise.
If you ever need an expert interview guest to talk about heartbreak and self-love, feel free to reach out to me.
You can find more information about me and my work on my website frompaintopower.de
Have a great day,
One I’ve done this, I bold sections of the text to make them stand out, including ‘need an expert interview partner to talk about heartbreak and self-love’, and ‘feel free to reach out to me’. This means that when the journalist opens the email, the most important information will jump out to them.
Note that this pitch adds up to about 120 words, so you could go ahead and write more if you really wanted to. Get creative, add your personality and let yourself shine!
Remember, pitching a journalist needn’t be too tricky once you know how to get it right. Approach them in the right way, be of service and build a relationship so you’re both in a win-win situation.
In the next episode, I’ll build upon what we’ve covered here and let you know how you should prepare for your interview, including the ‘dos and don’ts’ and a ton more tips.
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