How to Write a Pitch and Get Noticed

How to write a pitchLast update October 20th, 2014

Would you like to write a pitch that works? Because I’d like to read one and I’m sure I’m not alone.

Much as I love blogging there are frustrations and one of them is getting hundreds of bad pitches each week, mainly from wannabe guest bloggers, agency press releases and anyone with a new product or service.

Sometimes when you reach a certain level of blogging success it feels as if you’re besieged by strangers emailing you about their new blog, website, book or business and asking you to help them promote it.

The first time I got a pitch email I was pleased because it told me my travel blog was on someone’s radar. That first time, and many times after that, I replied to pitch emails with a polite email like this:

 “Thank you for contacting me. Sorry, but I can’t help you because my blog isn’t about remote control cyborgs so I don’t think your product will interest my readers.”

Times have changed. Now a cursory glance is all an unsolicited pitch gets before I hit delete. A lot of time, I only read the subject of the email before I delete it.

I no longer feel guilty about that either because some of the pitch emails don’t seem to come from real people, or at least not from people with real communications skills, real passion for what they do or a real idea about how to get people to say yes.

So I decided to update an old post about How to write a pitch. But first let’s look at what not to do when you write a pitch.

How Not to Write a Pitch Email

Let me show you a few samples of pitch emails I’ve received to give you an idea of the suffering innocent bloggers and business people like  you and me are being put through. Take this as an example from a pitch email that recently turned up:

“Hello Rich,

I have tried to reach you about…”

Unfortunately, this company plundered the domain name registry to see who registered my blog address and came up with my husband’s name Rich, not my name Annabel. Getting someone’s name wrong or misspelling it is bad, but reassigning their gender is worse.

Call me old-fashioned but I still think “Dear” followed by their first name is the ideal way to start an email (or letter) to someone you don’t know. If you don’t know their name find out what it is before emailing them. If you really can’t unearth a first or last name, then you should either brush up on your detective skills.

Most people prefer to be called by their first names these days, but I try to respect my elders and if I want to be formal, which an unsolicited email pitch calls for, I’d use a title and start the email “Dear Mr. Candy”.

Here’s another bad pitch email which shows that anyone can make mistakes.

A fellow web copy writer contacted me as part of a mass mailing via LinkedIn recently. This interesting email pitch case study highlights the dangers of mass mailings. Please bear in mind that I’m a professional web copy writer too and had connected with this copywriter on LinkedIn to support her endeavors. Then she sent me this:

Email Subject: Your LinkedIn Profile Needs Help!

That got my attention so I opened the email and read this:

“Why is your LinkedIn profile so weak?

I have to give this woman credit for being proactive in seeking work and her offer of $50 to rewrite a LinkedIn profile seemed like a reasonable deal. So good in fact, I might have even forwarded it to a few people, if I hadn’t felt so insulted at being told my profile was weak.

But my ego’s still intact because she probably hadn’t actually read my profile – for starters it wasn’t that bad (admittedly not a Pulitzer prize winner but at least average) and it did at least say that I was a writer, which would have been a red flag for her not contact me with her offer if she’d taken a moment to read it.

Even if she did mean to contact me, I don’t think it’s a good plan to insult people and make them feel like idiots in a pitch.

To add injury to insult the entire email was in heavy bold lettering, with a lot of italics thrown in. 

The final nail in the coffin came when, because I’m inherently nosy, I decided to check out her LinkedIn profile to see what was so good about her profile writing. Sadly there was no link to it so I’ll never know.

Writing a pitch seems to be a minefield but it should be an easy process. If you’d like to know how to write a pitch that gets noticed read on.

How to Write a Pitch That Works

I could share many more bad email pitch examples but let’s move on to how you should write a pitch:

  1. Never pitch strangers by email or any other way. Build a relationship with them first on Twitter or by putting a few comments on their blog. Unless you have some connection with them before you write your pitch, your email will be deleted straight away.
  2. Be sincere and personal.
  3. Get your facts right and show them you’ve read their blog. Most bloggers love to support and help the readers who support them.
  4. Mention something you’ve done for them – linked to their blog, left comments, shared it on Facebook, subscribed to their newsletter, or bought their latest product.
  5. At the very least find out the person’s name and spell it right.
  6. Use the normal language and abbreviations you’d use if you were speaking to someone so you don’t sound artificial.
  7. Be formal when you write a pitch and use Dear as the opening address. Unless you don’t know their name in which case you’ve not got much of a chance.
  8. Avoid using exclamation marks in pitches or emails. They never inspire confidence in a business situation.
  9. Don’t insult the person you’re trying to win over.
  10. Always include a link to your blog and other social media profiles like Twitter and Facebook.
  11. Don’t do a mass mailing – you’re wasting everyone’s time.
  12. Make sure the email isn’t all in a small font or bold lettering.
  13. Write a brief pitch. This isn’t the time to write an essay. Emphasize the benefits and let them know the best way to move forward.
  14. Thank them for taking the time to read your email.
  15. Don’t pitch at all.

How to Write a No Pitch Email Pitch That Works

I love to use author and blogger Rob White as an example of how to write a great pitch because he sent me an email once that followed all the rules above including the last one: don’t pitch.

The no pitch email just said he’d like to send me a copy of his book 180. Rob didn’t ask me to write about his book.

 Every blogger would like to read a pitch that works because we all want to help when we can. But no blogger can help everyone and nor should they try.

If you want to get attention for your product or service you have to work at it, but most of all you have to work out how to write a pitch that gets noticed, not deleted.

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About Annabel

Comments

  1. says

    Annabel, thanks for sharing your pitching tips (how to and how NOT to…). I have recently been looking for guest posting opportunities and I have sent a couple of emails to people who purportedly actually want guest posts, however I have not received any emails back… (and yes I had already been actively communicating with them and contributing to their sites) – but maybe not for long enough.

    Interestingly since you included the Pretraveller blog in your list of top Australian bloggers (thanks again by the way!) I have noticed a trend where marketing people must obviously search on that topic, find your article and then click through to my blog. Sure enough when I see a click through from your article I will then receive a solicitation. Some of them are interesting but many I have put in the circular file.

    I will definitely plan to use your tips for the next time I search for guest posting opportunities!

    • says

      Hi Anne,

      I think marketing people use those round up lists of blogs to find people a lot – if only they’d read this post and get the pitch right – or just not do it at all in most cases :)

  2. says

    This is really great post and a tremendous series. I’ve been wanting to guest post for a while and actually was about to attempt to start, but then found your Guest Post Mastery series here on become a blogger and now I’m just waiting. Waiting to take in the knowledge from the ENTIRE series to make sure I get started off in the right foot.

  3. Sonia Marsh/Gutsy Living says

    Would you like a “gifted” copy of the “My Gutsy Story® Anthology: True Stories of Love, Courage and Adventure From Around the World”? This is not a pitch Annabel.

  4. says

    Brilliant tips, thanks Annabel.
    How about doing a write-up on how to follow up on pitches? I’ve had quite a few less than polite responses when I’ve turned pitches down, or not replied. Choice words included. Like that’s going to help!

  5. says

    Hi there Annabel,

    Good post and chimes with me as I’ve recived three really good pitches this week for things that will work well for my blog. One from a PR who I know but two others don’t know me but they know the blog clearly and pitched specifically to me. I feel flattered!! And the pitches are for travel and camera topics so ideal for me.

    However, when I pitch people myself… which I ought to do a whole lot more… I’ll be re-reading this post!!

    • says

      Hi Seana,

      Sounds like you and the PR people are doing the right thing. I guess that’s why we keep reading the pitches because every now and then one of them is gold :)

  6. says

    THANK YOU for this–bad pitches are right on par with the “can I pick your brain” emails I get (I’m sure you do too). I still read most of the emails I get though because I can’t stop looking for that gold you mentioned.

  7. says

    Thanks for such a comprehensive and insightful roundup. Personally, I hate getting pitches from PR people (and I’m one myself in my ‘day job’) who obviously have never read my blog and/or don’t care what I write about or who my audience is. We’re all dealing in information here so a regular exchange of it is important, but I wish people didn’t insist on this ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

  8. says

    An awesome post. Many would like to know why their sincere posts get rejected despite being perfect. Most of the emails get ignored because of the spamming effect. Yes, personal touch makes a lot of difference and your emails will definitely get noticed.

  9. says

    Hi Annabel,

    It’s my first time on your blog so I guess that makes us strangers. I saw your site on Zac Johnson’s top 50 blog sites presentation at slideshare.

    I’m following your No.1 advice: “Never pitch strangers by email or any other way. Build a relationship with them first on Twitter or by commenting on their blog. Unless you have some connection with them before you write your pitch your email will be deleted straight away.”

    So here it is, commenting on your blog. I wish to connect with you more and learn from you.

    God Bless,
    Louie Sison