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How To Pitch Successfully

How To Pitch Successfully

Why should I listen to you?

    I have successfully pitched to local and national media outlets, ranging from the Albany Times Union, where I blog, to The Christian Science Monitor, MSNBC.com, E! Online, Newsweek, The LA Times, and others.

    Working as a blogger and journalist for the past eight years provided me with insight on how to pitch successfully. Proceed with the knowledge that you will only succeed in pitching if you persist. If you do not, these tips are useless.

    Be Brief

    If you can’t tell a reporter who you are and what you’re pitching in less than a paragraph, they’re moving on.

    How Do I Contact You?

    I mumble, so it is important that I tell journalists to contact me through email to ensure clarity.

    Clearly state in your email how the reporter can contact you. Your email signature is useless.

    What’s The Hook?

    Find a relevant local hook:

    “Albany Man Sets Self On Fire!” Lucky you, you sell micro fire extinguishers for such occasions. Your brief email should:

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    1) Establish the connection.  The advantage always goes to the local connection.

    2) Who you are (and why we should care). There are too many “experts” today, why are you different?

    10: 1

    Fact: For every ten emails you send, you will yield (maybe) one reply. Just keep going.

    No All Purpose Emails, Please

    When I first started pitching, I used to copy and paste press releases. Boy was that stupid. Although time consuming, your emails need to be personalized.

    Also: Don’t bother with the “blind” press release. Have one ready, but do not send the press release with your initial contact.

    Is The Content Appropriate?

    Business stories go to business editors. Do not cross the streams.

    Also: Do not contact reporters if there is a designated editor for the area you are pitching. The editors give the assignments to the reporters (in most cases.) If you pitch to a reporter, they have to pitch the story to the editor anyway.

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    Only contact the reporter if contact information is not available for the editor.

    No, I will Not Click On Your Link

    Do not send links. Your email must be self contained. If there is interest, you can provide further information later. Linking out says you’re lazy and didn’t care enough to pitch yourself.

    Don’t Lose The Opportunity

    You may have an opportunity to pitch your story in a different way depending on the reporter’s reply. So if they say they can’t use your story as pitched but leave the door open, you can (briefly) re-pitch.

    Be Polite. Even If The Reporter Is Not.

    Some reporters are asses. If you are rejected or if you receive a nasty rejection, brush it off.

    What’s that saying about arguing on the Internet?

    The Follow-up

    After a week, you may send one brief note to inquire about your pitch. If you do not hear anything, the second week you may call. Do not call until you’ve waited the appropriate amount of time.

    If you are unsuccessful, move on.

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    Contact Us Sparingly

    Do not contact reporters for every announcement. Wait until you have something groundbreaking. How do you know if you have one? Talk to your friends beyond the world of blogging and ask for their opinion. If they’re interested, you may proceed. Think about the average person, not techies.

    Networking & Growth

    Make friends with reporters. This may be the difference between getting your story covered and getting ignored. How? Make friends. There is no secret to networking. I am embarrassingly shy in person, but I’ve managed to make contacts with different newspaper reporters because of my field of work. You just need to keep your eyes and ears open for an opportunity to make friends.

    Media Breeds Media

    Media coverage breeds media coverage. Once you have an outlet reporting what you’re doing, it lends you credibility to advance to the next level.

    For example, this is my current plan for promoting my Twitter Novel: Glens Falls Post Star (Small), Albany Times Union (Medium), New York Times (Large.) The media outlets higher on the ladder are more interested in items when they were previously covered.

    Also: Once you’ve established media credibility, you can leverage it to approach other outlets. Hold off on television and radio until you’ve hit the newspapers.

    News directors at other media outlets follow the newspaper and may contact you if they like what they see.

    Always let them make the first contact. It’s an ego thing.

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    Punchy Email Headlines

    Seven words or less. Catch their interest.

    Make It Personal For You

    Sometimes your story makes what you’re pitching more interesting. If you can’t find a tie within the news, what from your background ties you to the outlet or community?

    I am a former Alfred State College student. When I contact media outlets in Western New York, I mention this to help build a connection.

    If you went to college, start with the media market that covers your school. Everyone loves “Alumni Doing Awesome” stories.

    Make it Personal For Them

    Do not email the general email accounts.

    Find out who covers what, look at their previous stories, and if you can’t tie in your pitch or find a local connection, make a pitch about how what you’re doing ties into their area of coverage.

    This is not a perfect list. Far from it; however, my intention here is to be helpful to my fellow bloggers and relieve some of the stress headaches induced by bloggers for my fellow journalists. Pitch well.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2021

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

    The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

    Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

    Posture

    First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

    • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
    • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
    • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
    • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

    All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

    Facial Expressions

    Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

    • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
    • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
    • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

    If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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    1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

    A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

    The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

    This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

    2. Relax Your Face

    New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

    The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

    To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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    3. Improve Your Eye Contact

    Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

    The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

    To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

    3. Smile More

    There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

    Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

    4. Hand Gestures

    Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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    It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

    5. Enhance Your Handshake

    In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

    “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

    It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

    6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

    As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

    Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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    Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

    Final Takeaways

    Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

    If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

    More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

    Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

    Reference

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