6 Ways Pitching Publications Is Like A First Date
Love isn’t always blind.
Scenario 1: You meet at a Thai restaurant. You’re excited because you love Thai and have been dying to try out the new restaurant that opened up downtown. You hit it off right away and find lots of things in common. Like “When Harry Met Sally” (minus the 90% of the movie that takes place between the taxi ride and the Empire State Building scene). Fast forward to a year later and you’re planning a trip together to Cambodia. Mazels.
Scenario 2: You both swiped right on Tinder. You get to the restaurant and discover that other than both taking the action to drag your finger across a screen in lazy hopes of finding love and living in the same regional area your interests don’t cross over in any other ways. We’re talking parallel lines here, they will never cross. They’re Christina and you’re Britney. They preferred Michael Keaton’s Batman performance to Christian Bale’s. They’re Led Zeppelin and you’re Pink Floyd. Pepsi and you’re Coke (honestly Pepsi people are just wrong). There isn’t going to be a second date and the first was likely short lived.
First dates can go either way but if you play your cards right sometimes you just might end up with scenario 1. Either way at least you’ll have a story to tell. Pitching is a lot like dating except that that trip to Cambodia is an awesome guest post on a stellar site that’s an influencer in your industry. And that awful Tinder date is like pitching a blog to a spammy real estate blog when you’re in the insurance business-it’s not benefiting either of you and you’re wasting everyone’s time.
Sometimes pitching is called cold pitching. This is because you’re likely sending that email when you have no idea of who’s on the receiving end. Because of that uncertainty about both who’s reading the email and if it will ever even get read, people often get robotic, vague and dull when pitching–cold–if you will. Sometimes it helps to remember that an actual live human opens those emails and that your pitch is like extending an invitation for a first date. Here are a few ways pitching is indeed like a first date and tips to hopefully seal the deal for a second.
1. You may get stood up.
Just like dates, media outlets can stand you up. And they will, often. When you’re pitching, you’re likely going to be sending your super awesome content to highly read publications. This is like asking out the cheerleading captain; they’re going to be in high demand. It sucks for the person pitching, but it’s oftentimes easier for these popular outlets to ignore your email if they deem it unfit for their publication than to send a response. Sometimes your email may even go unseen, lost in the bowels of someone’s email account. It’s a tough world out there in the land of outreach.
2. You [should] do an extra mirror check.
Here mirror check=spell check.
There’s nothing worse than a pitch with a spelling/grammar mistake. Think of this like spinach stuck between your teeth. It’s going to distract them the entire time. Sure the date may have gone well overall but they won’t ever forget about that distracting spinach. It will be the one thing they can’t get past. If we learned anything from “Seinfeld,” it’s that there are picky daters out there. Think of editors as the pickiest of daters. Do yourself and them a favor and PROOFREAD your emails. Spellcheck works wonders and you probably have a friend with decent mastery of the English language that can give the email a twice over. Just for the love of Cheez-Its make some attempt at editing for errors.
3. You should probably check that they’re your type.
Everyone has a type. Remember the Michael Keaton/Christian Bale comparison? These are two very different people we are talking about. Just like you would with a real person you want to strike up a conversation with, you probably want to get to get a sense of what they are all about before you start talking, aka blasting an email to. The great thing about blogs and article sharing sites is that they aren’t shy about letting you see what makes them tick.
If you want, you can purouse the entire archive. Seriously creeping is encouraged here. Just by skimming through past posts you can get a sense of what the voice is like, what content is front-page worthy and who they were into in the past—i.e. other guest bloggers/contributors. Sometimes, if you’re lucky and if the publication is big enough, they will provide editorial guidelines.
4. You’re probably going to want to vibe out whether or not they are mom material.
Here’s where you need to evaluate whether or not this publication is right for your company image-wise. Is there anything on their site that you may not want associated with your brand? Are you ok with the previous content? Will they link back to your site?
If you can check yes to all of these and think that the higher ups at your company would be tickled pink to see you getting this guest post then proceed with the pitching process—if not, see what else is out there; there are plenty of fish in the sea!
5. You should play it cool.
Nothing is worse than a first date where the person is super non casual. Pitches are the same. Sure, you’re sending an email so it should be a little more formal than your poker night conversation. However, pitches that are too boring aren’t a good thing either. If the editor is bored by your 2 paragraph email, they definitely don’t want you to send them copy for an entire article. Try to keep your tone a little human to keep things interesting.
6. Talking about yourself too much is a turnoff.
Publications like getting compliments. Remember to casually throw some into your email along with all the reasons why they should totally be dying to publish your content.