When you hire a publicist to get you lots of media coverage for your book, there will still be times when you will have to do some pitching yourself. It is important to know how best to do it, but it is also valuable knowing what NOT to do. In fact, this Savvy Sunday News release was inspired by just such a bad pitch, which we’re going to get into momentarily.
You see, between the podcast I produce and those who want to write a guest post for my blog, I receive about 50 pitches each week. This particular pitch wasn’t for the podcast, and clearly the person hadn’t actually looked at the blog because it is obvious that I don’t use guest posts. That’s not to say that someday I won’t change my mind and use guest posts, but that has not been the case so far.
I opened the email and here is how it begins:
Dear Ms. McCall,
Well, they got my name right at least. Many simply say, “Dear producer.” It’s formal but we do not know one another so being more formal is appropriate.
Would you be interested in an interview with me or a guest piece written by me?
Um, no. Not really. I don’t know who you are. I have no idea what you are proposing, and my first response to that question is “no.”
But I read on because I know this could be good material for my trainings:
I am a leadership and management consultant teaching new managers to become more confident leaders.
Okay, so they’ve said a little bit about who they are, but it is still very vague.
It would be better to include the company name, any credentials such as PhD, how many years he has been doing this work, perhaps a mention of a known client (if there is one), anything that tells me he’s actually an expert. (While I haven’t and won’t share the name for obvious reasons, it is from a man.)
But even more important than that, at this point in the letter he should be laying out the hook. As it is written, it did not grab my interest in any way, shape or form, and therefore doesn’t give me a reason to continue reading.
And while we are on the subject of the beginning of a pitch letter, get right to the point. If the media person isn’t someone you know personally, don’t ask them how they are or say you hope they’re healthy, or any of that. If it’s a cold pitch, just get right down to business and start with the hook. Media understands what a pitch is about. Pretending to have a relationship when there isn’t one is time wasted, and worse than that, you may hurt the chances of actually forming a warm relationship. He goes on…
In an interview, I can discuss:
- The Great Resignations is a direct result of bad company leadership, not lazy employees.
- Snowflakes in the workplace have become a major issue and are not specific to any generation.
- Snowflakes want to get free money just for showing up without doing any of the work that needs to get done.
The Great Resignations isn’t plural. It’s Great Resignation. Singular.
And…Snowflakes? What is a snowflake?
Clearly they are using language that perhaps some people know, but not everyone.
I watch many different channels to stay current on the news cycle and aware of what is timely and relevant. There is objective reporting with trained journalists and those who are creating a show and drawing a large audience with various opinions – from both sides of the aisle.
The point here is when you use language that is known to one base but not the other, and you use it in a pitch, you may either cause the media to delete you because they think you are an extremist, or they may consider you unprofessional. Or they may just say, “Huh?”
The use of that terminology takes the person out of the running. I would be highly surprised if even those who do know what a “snowflake” is would be interested in speaking with this person, and I say that as someone who has been involved with and pitching the media for years.
Just language use alone tells me this person favors certain perspectives. Even if you were aiming to land media from one side of the fence or the other, this pitch would likely get you nowhere.
“Snowflakes want to get free money just for showing up without doing any of the work that needs to get done.”
Really? This is not a professional pitch – at all.
If you are interested in an interview or guest piece or have any other ideas for which I may be a good fit, please contact me.
Um, unlikely. And why are you asking me to figure out how to use you? I’m busy.
I have appended a press release with more details below my signature.
I was incredulous. This is such a great example of what NOT to do with media; how could I not bring it up here? So, what to do instead? I’ll keep it very simple:
- Start with the hook, which can be in the form of a question or assertion. Make it compelling.
- Tell me why it matters.
- Be sure to answer, “Why you, why now?” This speaks to credibility and timeliness.
- Bullet points with key messages or talking points.
- Summary of why this would work for this particular media outlet.
- Leave out jargon or language that will get you deleted.
- Include links to other interviews you’ve done.
Regarding the last bullet point, the media wants to see how you respond to questions and many want to see your energy level. We live in a world now where no one has to take a chance on a guest anymore. Rather than guess, they will just move on, so send them links with examples of you at your best.
If you don’t have any video yet, get an interview on a local TV station. It gives you footage you can use and, of course, more experience doing interviews, which is always good. In addition to demonstrating your energy and how you respond to questions, it shows that other media have scoped you out and said, “yes” to having you on the show. Automatic credibility.
If nothing else, create your own videos and upload them to YouTube and send them the link.
I am here to encourage you to land more media opportunities. I want you to get your message out in the world, and knowing what NOT to do is as important, if not more important that what you actually do. If you want more personalized and customized information for your particular book and situation, you can set up a session with me here.
To your success!
P. S. We’re all getting stronger, and smarter, and better.
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