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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 June 19, 2019

    6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

    6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances

    I’ve stood on the edge of my own personal cliffs many times. Each time I jumped, something different happened. There were risks that started off great, but eventually faded. There were risks that left me falling until I hit the ground. There were risks that started slow, but built into massive successes.

    Every risk is different, but every risk is the same. You need to have some fundamentals ready before you jump, but not too many.

    It wouldn’t be a risk if you knew everything that was about to happen, would it? Here’re 6 ways to be a successful risk taker.

    1. Understand That Failure Is Going to Happen a Lot

    It’s part of life. Everything we do has failure attached to it. All successful people have stories of massive failure attached to them. Thinking that your risk is going to be pain free and run as smooth as silk is insane.

    Expect some pain and failure. Actually, expect a lot of it. Expect the sleepless nights with crazy thoughts of insecurity that leave you trembling under the covers. It’s going to happen, no matter how positive you are about the risk you are about to take.

    When failure hits, the only options are to keep going or quit. If you expect falling into a meadow of flowers and frolicking unicorns, then you’re going to immediately quit once you realize that getting to that meadow requires you to go through a rock filled cave filled with hungry bats.

    2. Trust the Muse

    Writing a story isn’t a big risk. It’s really just a risk on my time. So when I start writing a story, I’m scared it will be time wasted. Of course, it never really is. Even if the story doesn’t turn out fabulous, I still practiced.

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    When I’ve taken risks in my life, the successful ones always seemed to happen when I followed the muse. Steven Pressfield describes the muse,

    “The Muse demands depth. Shallow does not work for her. If we’re seeking her help, we can’t stay in the kiddie end. When we work, we have to go hard and go deep.”

    The muse is a goddess who wants our attention and wants us to work on our passion.

    If you’re taking a risk in anything, it’s assumed that there is some passion built up behind that risk. That passion, deep inside you, is the muse. Trust it, focus on it, listen to it.

    The most successful articles and stories I write are the ones I’ve focused all my attention on. There were no interruptions during their creative development. I didn’t check my phone or go watch my Twitter feed. I was fully engaged in my work.

    Trust the muse, focus your attention on your risk, let the ideas and path develop themselves, and leave the distractions at the side of the road.

    3. Remember to Be Authentic

    Taking a risk and then turning into something you’re not, is only going to lead to disaster. Whether you are risking a new relationship or new opportunity, you must be yourself throughout the entire process.

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    How many times have you acted like you loved something just because the men or woman you just started going out with loved it?

    For example, I’m not an office worker. I have an incredibly hard time working in a confined timeline (ie. 9-5). That’s why I write. I can do it whenever the mood strikes, I don’t have somebody breathing down my neck, telling me that I’m five minutes late, or missed a comma somewhere. I don’t have to walk on eggshells wondering if what I’m writing will get me fired or make me lose a promotion. I can just be myself, period.

    One girlfriend didn’t understand that. She believed solely in the 9-5 motto, specifically something in human resources because that was a very stable job. I was scared for my future, but I stuck with the relationship because of my own insecurities and acted like I would do it to make her happy.

    Here’s a tip: NEVER take away from your happiness to make somebody else satisfied (note I didn’t say happy).

    Making somebody else happy will make you happy. Doing something to satisfy somebody is murder on your soul.

    4. Don’t Take Any Risks While You’re Not Clearheaded

    I’d been considering the risk for a couple weeks. It all sounded good. I was 22 and I could be rich in a couple of years. That’s what they were selling me, anyways.

    One night, while at a house party with some friends, I found myself at a computer. A couple of my friends were standing nearby and asked me what I was doing. I told them I was considering starting my own business and it was only going to cost me $1,500.

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    Of course, when a bunch of drunk people are surrounded by more drunk people, things get enthusiastic. It sounded like the best business venture in the world to everybody, including me. So I signed up and gave them my credit card number.

    A few painful months and close to $4,000 dollars lost later, I quit the business. I was young and fell into the pyramid scheme trap. It was an expensive drunk decision.

    Drinking heavily and making decisions has a proven track record of failure. So when you have something important to decide, don’t let your emotions take over your brain.

    5. Fully Understand What You’re Risking

    It was the start of my baseball comeback. I got a tryout with a professional scout and killed it. After the tryout, he talked to my girlfriend and myself, making sure we understood I would be gone for up to 6 months at a time. That strain on the relationship could be tough.

    We understood. I left to play ball, chose to stay in the city I played in, and a year later we broke up. Not because of baseball, see point 3 above. Taking big risks can have massive impacts on everything in your life from relationships to money. Know what you’re risking before you take the risk.

    If you believe the risk will be worth it or you have the support you need from your family, then go ahead and make the leap.

    You can get more guidance on how to take calculated risks from this article: How to Take Calculated Risk to Achieve More and Become Successful

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    6. Remember This Is Your One Shot Only

    As far as we know officially, this is our one shot at life, so why not take some risks?

    The top thing people are saddened by on their deathbeds are these regrets. They wish they did more, asked that girl in the coffee shop out, spoke out when they should have, or did what they were passionate about.

    Don’t regret. Learn and experience. Live. Take the risks you believe in. Be yourself and make the world a better place.

    Now go ahead, take that risk and be successful at it!

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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