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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 April 11, 2019

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

    I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

    I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

    Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    How Communication Skills Help Your Success

    Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

    Create a Positive Experience

    Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

    When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

    What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

    Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

    As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

    Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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    Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

    Help Leadership Skills

    It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

    Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

    As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

    Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

    If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

    Build Better Teams

    Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

    In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

    If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

    When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

    Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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    How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

    There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

    Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

    1. Listen

    Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

    Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

    People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

    Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

    Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

    2. Know Your Audience

    Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

    Here is a good way to think about it:

    Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

    You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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    3. Minimize

    I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

    He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

    Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

    State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

    The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

    4. Over Communicate

    So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

    What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

    Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

    Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

    Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

    There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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    5. Body Language

    The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

    When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

    In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

    When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

    Conclusion

    Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

    Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

    There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

    Now go communicate your way to success.

    More Resources About Effective Communication

    Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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