As a copywriter or journalist, pitching your content is something you either enjoy or tolerate doing – and unless you have someone to consistently do this task for you – you have to do it.
So, if you have to pitch your own work (which I think you should, as representation of your labour expresses your personality and reinforces the style and tone of your content) then you need to ensure that you’re doing so effectively; without being mechanical and assuming.
The ways in which freelance journalists and copywriters pitched their work was a far more convoluted process during the 80s and 90s. Invariably the editor or sub editor was more illusive than Lord Lucan, and you’d have to verbally contend with the PA from hell in order to get your copy in front of those desired eyes – irrespective whether a relationship was already in place.
Fast forward a few decades, and the social media millennium arrived with an almighty, deafening bang. Once we Internet users regained our hearing, we were greeted with a whole host of channels that our intangible editorial contacts were now accessible. With the more recent aid of LinkedIn and Twitter in particular, these very people are exposed to the online world; susceptible to hungry writers kicking down their firewall, and not a hostile PA in sight. Thank God.
This is great news for all us online writers, but we can’t forget that although we’re spoilt with avenues to reach existing and new contacts, we still have to be conscious of our delivery. We also have to bear in mind the high volume of people who have the exact same intentions as we do, so competition to publish content has never been so fierce.
So, before I go into what you need to say in your opening pitch email, there are some questions that you need to ask yourself first:
1) Are you completely happy with your content?
This may be an obvious one, but you could have rushed work due to a tight deadline, or not injected your usual amount of brilliance. Ask a colleague to check your work to ensure that your high standards are maintained; then check yourself again.
2) Is your client completely happy with your content?
If you’ve created content on behalf of a client, their sign off is crucial. Unless you have a carte blanche relationship on all content syndication, then I don’t need to stress the consequences should unapproved copy get published.
3) Have you optimised your content and incorporated links?
Keywords, keywords, keywords! However, integrate them subtly so not to disrupt the flow of your copy, but enough so that key search terms – say for your client’s new product page, or a seasonal promotional push – are covered. More often than not you will want to link back to the home page, so you can simply conclude with: For more information on how XXXX can reduce your commercial utility overheads, visit www……
4) Have you researched the sites and publications you’re approaching?
Again this may seem obvious, but you have to make sure that your content is appropriate to the site’s ‘house style’, demographic, editorial policies and archived content. You will look rather silly when your prospect informs you that your article on ‘Why a blog is beneficial to your business growth’ was covered two weeks ago. And, although most websites accept free content, it doesn’t always guarantee submission, so don’t assume it!
5) How should I construct my pitch email?
Right, you’re now ready to craft your pitch email. What you say and how you deliver these words will make or break your pitching mission, so as I mentioned earlier, try to be yourself; almost as if you’re talking to this person face to face. However, it is equally important you introduce your client, background and intent. I also strongly advise that you use relevant keywords in your email. Try this as your template:
Hi there (name),
I hope you’re well. My name is (name) and I am (qualification or title – I tend to use ‘NCTJ-accredited journalist’, but it depends how relevant your qualification is).
Please find attached an article I’ve written recently about (description of the article with keyword). This is a current story that I believe would compliment your demographic, as well as raise the necessary awareness for this popular subject matter. You can have this article for free as fresh content on your site, as we’re currently trying to promote (article title with keyword).
I hope you enjoy reading the article and if you have any questions please feel free to get back to me via the contact details at the bottom of this email. Below are my terms:
• I’m fully qualified and accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists, and abide by all current standards.
• Articles will be original – I will be the author of the work and not obtained from the public domain. All work will be original and written specifically with your publication in mind.
• Articles will be unique for a period of time – The article written for you will not published elsewhere either electronically or offline. The article will be offered exclusively to your site for 30 days. After this period is over the article may be duplicated.
• Articles will be Legal and Free of Spam – I will not submit any work that is a violation of any law, or that is defamatory, libelous or that contains content that is intended to promote click fraud or arbitrage. • Articles will be about a specific agreed subject – Submissions will to relate to an agreed specific or newsworthy topic or event.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me.
I very much look forward to hearing from you.
Naturally the tone, style and formality of each email with depend on your target website, but just remember that they do receive a lot of similar requests on a daily basis, so think what kind of email would grab your attention? Avoid being too direct, but a dose of charisma is always welcome. Good luck!
For further information on pitching out your content, or on training opportunities, contact me via Twitter