Pitching your ideas to journalists, editors, and bloggers is important if you want to have your content published online.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to persuade blog owners and editors to host your content. This often has nothing to do with the quality of the content itself—rather it’s how you pitch your stories to the blogger or editor.
There are a number of ways to increase your chance of getting a positive response. Here are five tips to help get bloggers and journalists to say “yes” to your pitch.
1. Follow the rule of reciprocity. By posting your article, the blogger is doing you a favor: He or she is helping you gain exposure and share your ideas with their online community. To increase your likelihood of being published, it helps to follow the rule of reciprocity—that is, doing something for the blogger first. This doesn’t mean you should offer a bribe, but it does help if you can offer something of value to the blogger or journalist.
You can reach out to journalists in advance and ask what kind of content they need, or find out what their editorial calendar looks like. This will help you tailor your content to a particular journalist’s needs. If you are pitching a blogger, offer to share their content on your social media channels to broaden their reach, or if you have a blog of your own, offer to allow them to post on your site (guest post swap). Don’t limit yourself to just these; think creatively about what you think that journalist or blogger would like.
2. Use time indicators. Bloggers are busy people, but journalists have especially hectic schedules. If you aren’t getting many responses to your requests, it could be that the journalists you’re contacting just don’t have the time to respond to your email. To make a response more likely, you should make a point to use time indicators in the subject line or first line of the email body. Phrases such as “one quick question about…” or “I’ll get straight to the point” can help attract attention and let the recipient know your message won’t take much time.
Also, make sure your message is short and sweet; if it takes too long to read, they’ll probably move on. Keep your email to seven sentences—or fewer, if you can. Below is a great example that I received from Mosquito Magnet pitching an article for my blog, Homey Improvements. Before I received the pitch, Carl found me on Twitter and tweeted several of my outdoor articles, tagging me in the tweets.
3. Take advantage of images. Pitching content isn’t always about articles. There’s a good chance some of your content will include videos, infographics, or other items. When pitching these types of posts, though, people often just write a brief message without showing the actual photos and videos. If you’re pitching these types of content, it’s a good idea to include a portion of the image in the pitch. Bloggers are much more likely to say “yes” when they can see part of the infographic or a screenshot of the video in your pitch.
Photos are also useful even if you are pitching a regular blog post. When pitching content to bloggers, I often include a small picture of myself in the signature line. This gives a nice personal touch and shows I’m a real person, someone they can trust. When I include the photo, my “yes” response always increases. Choose a color photo of yourself smiling and face straight on to the camera (just like the photo in my example above).
4. Show extra understanding of their niche. If you’re writing an article on a specific topic, you should show the blogger or journalist you know what you’re talking about. It’s important for your pitch to show you understand the topic and the site’s readers. For example, you could open with a comment on an article the blogger recently wrote or tell them why your infographic would help their readers.
5. Use multiple points of contact. Ideally, your pitch won’t be the first time you come in contact with the blogger. Using two or three points of contact will increase the likelihood of a “yes.” That doesn’t mean you should just send your pitch multiple times, though. Rather, you can reach out to the blogger in other ways, such as replying to a tweet, complimenting a recent article, or commenting on a blog. Ideally, your initial contact should be related to the story you’re pitching; this helps establish you as someone who knows the industry.
Although pitching stories can be frustrating, the tips above will make the process easier and make it much more likely that you’ll receive a positive response.
Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a platform that helps companies and PR firms get press, receive email alerts when journalists tweet or write stories about them, and measure the success of their work.