If you’re anything like me, your ears perk up any time you hear someone sharing insight about what makes a good pitch and more importantly, what makes it appeal to a reporter. Coming up with a solid angle is only half the battle. In my experience, what makes or breaks a good pitch is positioning it in a way that communicates your message so clearly that a reporter is able to easily see exactly where you’re going with it and what the idea will look like as an article.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written a crummy pitch or two in my career but when I finally face the hard truth and realize that my pitch and approach ultimately just didn’t work, I really try and make an effort to clear my head, take a step back and understand why it might not have appealed to the person I was pitching.
All that said, you can’t always know exactly what someone is looking for. Sometimes, it’s difficult to be sure. But what I am sure of is that any time a person on the other side is telling you what works and what doesn’t, at least for them, you better listen, and listen good. Maybe even take a note or two.
I’ve been working with a reporter over the past four months on a series of articles featuring tips from my client on a variety of topics so needless to say, we’ve had an extensive back and forth over both email and phone. We’ve built a great relationship and I was fortunate enough to receive feedback from her on what it was that made my original pitch stand out and her take on the anatomy of a good pitch.
Lucky for you, I’m willing to share the secrets. Consider this a belated holiday gift. From a pro’s mouth to your ears, here are a few points to keep in mind as you pitch:
- Think out of the box. Don’t be afraid to show personality and a sense of humor.
- Be open-minded and collaborative. The willingness to tweak an idea goes a long way.
- Be ready to act fast, and always expect quick turnaround times.
- Don’t start a pitch complementing past work just for the sake of complementing. It comes across like you’re kissing up. Instead, PS it after your pitch, only if it’s sincere.
- Keep the subject line short and simple.
- A good pitch should start with a one-sentence overview then move right into the hottest 2-3 points. Hit with your best stuff right up front.
- Interject your passion and write something you want to read.