7 Steps To Get Media Attention The Right Way

Last week Problogger’s Darren Rowse issued a well-deserved rant, attacking SEO Guest Post Pitches – The New Scurge of a Blogger’s Existence. In his post over at Google+, Darren explains that over the past year he’s seen a noticeable shift in the pitches that are hitting his inbox. Instead of hearing from well-intentioned bloggers looking to offer value, he’s getting impersonal pitches from people with no understanding of his blog or what he writes about. Awesome!

Darren has had enough. And, really, who can blame him?

Pitching is par for the course in today’s marketing world. We pitch guest posts to gain exposure and build authority, and we pitch reporters to help our businesses earn coveted media exposure. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to pitch someone.

You’ve probably seen the wrong. The right way looks something like this:

1. Have something worth pitching: Sadly, this is where way too many business owners fail in the process. Yes, at step one.

Fueled with a sense of urgency to attract links and coverage, business owners pitch articles or news stories that simply aren’t interesting or worth the initial email. Have something worthy to pitch OR hold that email until you do.

What’s pitch worthy? Maybe you’re a new startup that solves an old problem or you’re a company using shock and awe tactics to surprise your customers and make their day. You need something that will make you stand out and make the recipient of your email want to learn more. If you don’t have something worth sharing, you’re not ready. Nothing slams doors harder than mediocrity.

2. Do your homework: Whether you’re approaching someone like Darren Rowse for a guest posting opportunity or you’re about to email a local reporter, be respectful of their time and do your homework beforehand. Study what their blog/site is about, learn which writers/reporters cover what topics, know the type of spin they use, what their hot buttons are, and who to contact for what kind of story. Once you have a specific writer in mind, find their personal email address. You’ll get a much better response emailing someone directly than using a generic info@domain.com or sales@domain.com email.

3. Personalize your pitch: Because you’ve done your homework and you know the person you’re reaching out to, you’ll be able to better personalize your pitch. Talk about a recent post they’ve written or a stance you both share on a particular topic (but don’t lie!). One pet peeve Darren mentioned in his rant post was how obvious it was that the people contacting him were simply copying and pasting their messages. There was no attempt to personalize the email. Even if you’re pitching multiple people about the same story, do your due diligence and customize the pitch to that person. You may have 2-3 lines that are standard, but add personal elements to show there’s a human on the other end of the email.

4. Tell a good story: In most cases, it’s simply not enough that you have something cool to share (unless it’s really cool). You have to make people care by telling a story that ties what you’re pitching to what the recipient is selling. Anyone with a blog or a platform today is in the storytelling business. We tell stories about ourselves and our customers to get them to take a desired action and to make them feel something. Your pitch should lay out the benefit for the recipient and tell a story about how it will help their readers. Stories are what make people care about your business and your bottom line.

5. Get to the point: Respect your reader’s time by telling them, immediately, who you are, what you do, and why you’re contacting them. If they want to learn more about you, they’ll respond to your email and ask. Be brief and resist the urge to tell your complete life story in your initial email. Learn to get your message and story across in just a few sentences.

6. Include all pertinent information: Somewhere in your pitch you want to provide all of the information this person will need to get in touch with you. If you’re emailing them they already have your email address but include the URL for your site/blog, your Twitter handle, and any other pertinent information. Don’t make them search for it to find you. Because they probably won’t.

7. Be helpful: Regardless of whether or not your pitch is accepted on the first attempt, don’t end the relationship after that interaction. Find ways to keep yourself and your company top of mind for that blog or site by lending a helpful hand whenever you can. Maybe that means connecting them to someone they should know, recommending a new source/contact, or pointing them toward a story that doesn’t involve you but would be of interest their audience. By fostering that relationship and acting like a good Web citizen, your contact will be more likely to keep you in mind for future stories.

Whether it’s for an interview, a blog post, or a story about our company, we all have to pitch sometimes. But by crafting a pitch that is relevant and respectful, you’re much more likely to get a positive response. Because if Darren Rowse is going to mention your company, you want him to mention it for the right reasons, not the wrong ones.

Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

13 Reactions
  1. Thanks, Lisa,

    I like what you wrote about “getting to the point.”

    The PR community-some of the agencies, still insist on sending pitches to me that are 350 words long.

    Get to the point, people. And tell me how we can BOTH benefit.


    The Franchise King®

  2. Darren Rowse has a good reason to be fed up, and I really do feel for him. Getting the generic copy and paste email three times a day can really break a blogger down after a while.

    All too often people try to pitch to the wrong place. I.e. they pitch a post about motorcycles to a blog about bicycles. While it may be frustrating, we have to keep in mind that it’s a competitive world out there and people just starting are probably as desperate as they can get.

    Often times, I will do them a favor and point them somewhere that their post may be more welcomed and I’ll also give them some of the tips you shared here. (These are actually my few lines that never change)

    Personalization is huge. Everyone wants to be flattered and the only genuine way to do that, in my mind, is to show them how much you enjoy THEIR website and THEIR posts. Connect with people personally and you will receive more than just a guest post.

  3. I’m currently working with a very large website to do a review of their service. The people doing the outreach seem clueless. I asked for some data points to include in my review (something any salesperson knows by heart) and they keep asking me if I can find enough information on the website to use. Come on! You reached out to me and you expect me to somehow rehash what’s already on your website into something beneficial to my readers? I feel the pain.

    • Mr. Brady, can you do a review of my site? Trust me I have several data points to provide and would love to establish a relationship with you to help get the word out about my company. We are one of a kind and bring so many different opportunities to the table.

      Royce Dennis

  4. I love these points. And I have used them in getting media attention. Which has been pretty cool. #4 I have been lackluster with and will fix.

    I will say this: Twitter is very instrumental in getting press. Many reporters wont share their email but they will ALWAYS share their twitter handle which is pretty cool.

    Great post Lisa!

  5. I haven’t guest blog myself but if I receive spammy requests, I bet I’d be annoyed myself. Thanks for these awesome tips. I think you can compare a pitch like that with generic cover letters that make no sense – everyone’s on a hurry these days to even pause, rethink and reach out with a genuine hello. Everyone wants to automate..

  6. Terrific post, Lisa. I like Darren and his work, but the reality is — this is life. I get pitched constantly and have for years. The life of a blogger is not much different from that of a more traditional journalist. In my writing for dozens of publications, in print and online, good and bad pitches arrive. Your points are helpful and ones that the good PR people know and the bad ones will never read. Or the bad ones will read it and say, “ah, so what, I’m gonna send Darren that pitch on organic cosmetics for dogs anyway.”

    The good news is that it comes via email now. Simple and easy to delete or block by hitting “SPAM” which I love. Back in the day, they came as letters, faxes, and incessant phone calls (which were thankfully picked up by the creation of voicemail!).

    The rule is still the same: Build a relationship and stay on target.

    • Good points, TJ.

      The great PR people know who to pitch, and how to pitch us.

      However, I’d like to see more of them offer ways to help us.

      I don’t ever want to feel like I’m doing their work for them.

      Know what I mean?

      The Franchise King®

  7. Something else I might add to the list is to connect and build a relationship with the blogger, when possible — even if it’s a few quick connections. If you want to guest post on someone’s blog, comment on their blog while you’re “doing your homework.” Re-tweet a few posts that really stand out to you. Ask them questions about themselves. I’d recommend doing this for at least 3-4 weeks before reaching out to guest post. Show the person that you’re actually interested in what they’re doing, otherwise you’re just going to look like another self-promoter. The reality is that if you’re doing your homework, like the above post recommends, you’ll get to be somewhat of an expert/avid follower of the blog anyways, so why not let the blogger know you appreciate them?

  8. Osiris,

    great question.

    If the pitch was from a PR firm, I would want them to come up with some ideas.

    After all, that’s what they get paid to do.

    Then, maybe I would counter with some of mine.

    The point is, let’s start things off from a better place.