Pitching Tips…and I Don’t Mean Baseball

The longer I publish my ezine, MarketingIdeaShop Brainy Tidbits, the more email pitches I receive from hopeful publicists, book authors and entrepreneurs with products and services they want to pitch to me. Some of the pitches are good. Some are miserable. Some pique my interest, but they don’t relate to marketing.

If you’re interested in pitching the media to get coverage for your business, product, service or book, pay attention here. I’m going to give you a couple of pitching examples and 8 quick tips that can make the difference between success and failure.

Let me tell you about the two emails I received last week.

Pitch #1:

The first one was 3 full 8.5″ x 11″ pages long. The subject line of the email said “X and Y Celebrate Success” — not a very enticing headline, is it? The email was all hype with no meat in it (and even if it did have something of value, would the media actually READ 3 pages in an email?).

The focus of the release was simply how much media coverage the publisher of an African-American woman’s magazine had received in the past year. There was no phone number, no address, no contact name. No way to get off the list except by hitting “reply.” The person who sent the email was quoted as an expert in the second paragraph. It also used old-fashioned PR techniques like beginning the message with the city, state and date of distribution.

Pitch #2:

The second one was succinctly written, fit in 12-point type on one page, and included this riveting first sentence: “In his quest to be the meanest, baddest, roughest, toughest sheriff in the country, Davidson County, NC Sheriff Gerald Hege threatened, humiliated, tormented and abused the inmates in his jail as they awaited trial.”

Each sentence was written to make you read the next one. The message promoted a book about the prison system and treatment of prisoners, tied it to current events, offered a review copy and a personal interview with the author, and included contact information for two people.

Despite the fact that the book is not about marketing, I read the entire pitch. And I responded to the publicist via email. If it had been about marketing, I would have picked up the phone.

So what can we learn from these two examples?

1. Make your pitch short.

Publicity pitches are meant to intrigue the editor. They are not designed to tell everything there is to know about your product, service or book. The pitch is to get the editor to say, “Yes, I’d like to talk to you.”

2. Know the media and the reporter.

Neither of the folks in the examples I gave above understood what I do and what my ezine is about. I write about marketing. I don’t do individual profiles of businesses.

3. Reel ’em in with your subject line.

If your subject line is boring, looks like advertising or s*pam, or doesn’t relate to anything the editor writes about, your email message is likely to end up in the “deleted items” file. Remember, it’s very easy to hit that delete key.

4. Write compelling copy.

Short, succinct paragraphs are critical. You want the reader to keep reading. But if you can’t say it in 4-6 short paragraphs, you’ll be in big trouble.

5. Have something to say.

Make sure your information is newsworthy. I fail to understand how a self-promotional email like the first example would be of interest to anyone…except maybe the person’s mother. Keep in mind that publishers must provide interesting, beneficial, wanted information to their readers.

6. Tie your pitch to a current event or trend.

If you can show that your book or product relates to a current event or trend, your email will be much better received. The editor must be able to easily understand how your product or service can benefit their readers.

7. Don’t quote yourself.

This one seems like an obvious rule to me, but it must not be so obvious to others. It’s always best to have other people tell an editor (or your prospect!) how great you are instead of saying it yourself. At the very least, have someone else in your office send out the email. Don’t send out a pitch about yourself from your own email address unless you absolutely have to. If you’re planning to send a release to promote yourself, try sending a “helpful” email instead–offering a bit of advice, solution to a problem, etc.–and not promoting your product or service. Subtlety!

8. Always give contact information.

Duh. This should be a no-brainer. What if the editor is INTERESTED? Don’t you want them to be able to pick up the phone and CALL you?

Do you need free content for your newsletter? Send an email to: content@marketingideashop.com?subject=ezine_content with your request. This article was reprinted from “MarketingIdeaShop BRAINY Tidbits,” a FREE ezine from Marketing Idea Shop and Lois Carter Fay featuring brainy ideas and resources for marketers and small businesses. Subscribe today at http://www.marketingideashop.com/ and receive FREE by email “67 Ways to Promote Your Business.”