Before you contact the media (i.e., pitch), you need to do your research. This is a HUGE step that most people don’t bother to do, so if you do it correctly, you will significantly stand out from the crowd. (I talk about this in my recent interview with Michael Hinderliter, which you can access here.)
Now it’s time for the pitch.
A pitch is kind of like a cover letter. Your are contacting the reporter — usually via email — to let them know what your suggested story idea is, why it would be a good fit for their media outlet, and how to get more information.
This is where your research pays off.
I receive press releases and/or article ideas every single day. The majority of them have NOTHING to do with eClean Magazine or my audience. It’s painfully obvious I’ve been added to some list of magazines and people blast out generic press releases hoping some outlet will pick them up. It’s extremely annoying!
I have had ONE example where a non-industry member contacted me to pitch an idea and it was obvious she had done her research. Here it is below, and I’ve put the really important stuff in bold.
Good afternoon Allison,
My name is Megan Medaris and I am reaching out on behalf of Adrian Steel, a manufacturer of commercial vehicle equipment for contractors. I recently began researching cleaning industry publications, and came acrosseClean. I was instantly impressed by your nice blend of industry-specific content with valuable business insights. I particularly enjoyed your April article about Google’s recent mobile algorithm update and how it impacts business owners.
Adrian Steel is interested in connecting with cleaning industry professionals by providing content designed to make their jobs easier. I noticed that in your most recent issue, your featured article offered advice on how business owners can effectively manage their vehicle fleets. I wondered if you would consider a guest article from Adrian Steel that provides information about the types of vehicle equipment that would be of the most benefit to cleaning pros as well as outline how each impacts efficiency and profitability. We could also go in an entirely different direction if you have other ideas in mind.
Please let me know if this is something you’d consider and I hope to get the opportunity to work with you! Thank you for your time!
Why did this pitch stand out?
- She used my name. Off the bat, that showed me she had done some research and found out I was the person to contact for article inquiries.
- She complimented my work (and reporters like to know that someone is familiar with their work!), but more than that, she pointed out a specific article she saw in eClean. She may or may not have actually read it, but I do at least know that she opened up an issue and flipped through it — which is more than most do.
- She found an article in eClean that had to do with fleets/vehicles. Her product is for fleets/vehicles. So again, I know that she did some real research –i.e., put some actual effort into the process — and she’s also reiterating to me how her company/product is a good fit for my audience and format.
- She told me her idea, and it wasn’t just talking about her company and its products; it was providing information that could benefit my readers.
- She kept it brief, friendly, and respectful.
She did her research, and it paid off. I ran her article, which is something I rarely do. And I did it mostly because I appreciated her efforts.
So how can you make this work for you? Here is a made up example:
My name is Joe Blow and I am the owner of ABC Pressure Washing, an exterior cleaning service company that helps home and business owners across Pulaski Country protect their property and increase curb appeal. I have been following your articles in the XYZ Newspaper and appreciate how you provide readers with affordable ways to maximize the enjoyment of their homes. I particularly found your recent article on plants that can help keep mosquitoes away valuable, and I plan to add some to my own backyard.
I’m writing you because I have some ideas for some additional article topics that can help your readers protect and add value to their homes. For example, another good way to help keep mosquitoes away is to have gutters regularly cleaned, as clogged gutters often cannot drain and provide a perfect breeding ground for mosquito growth. Clogged gutters can also lead to a whole host of problems and significant damage for homeowners. I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you more about this topic and why professional gutter cleaning is one of the most cost-efficient ways homeowners can protect their property.
Please let me know if this is something you would be interested in discussing further. This is just one idea of many that I have, and I am open to other ideas or suggestions on how my expertise can be of service to you and your readers.
Finally, it’s ok to follow up — a little bit. Check back in a couple of weeks, then maybe again in a month. Then move on. Either send that same reporter another idea or find another outlet.