Let’s talk about how to write a pitch email!
This video & post is dedicated to the decade of chronologically organized magazines I had neatly sorted under my bed
…. until my parents made me throw them all away when I moved out. RIP.
You may be interested in securing a guest post, a podcast interview, or maybe even landing something bigger like a magazine opportunity for different media publications that are out there.
So in this post, I’m going to dive into some strategically how you can create a basic email template for pitching those different media opportunities.
As we roll, I would love to hear your thoughts on how you’ve seen success in getting PR for your creative business—or hear any questions that you have—so as we dive in, keep in mind to have a conversation with me in the comments section!
Also, this is one of MANY email templates I recommend you have in your business. I have a full checklist of 28 I would recommend the average creative have on hand—make sure you download that freebie checklist, and after you make this one, you can check it off!
*This blog post accompanies what I teach in the video, so watch the video first, and instead of having to take notes, you’ve got the blog!
Before I did this whole entrepreneur thing, I studied journalism/PR, worked in corporate marketing, and wrote for magazines—specifically with good ol’ Time Inc. publication. So, I’ve been the pitcher—the one landing coverage in magazines like Bon Appetit and newspapers like USA Today—and the one writing content for outlets like Style Me Pretty, About.com, and Southern Living, to name a few.
In a quotable nutshell:
“Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”
— Helen Woodward
🙂 … but let’s get some definitions established.
Your relationship with your publics (surprise!). Non-paid marketing, so think podcast interviews, guest blogs, speaking podiums, community involvement, partnerships, getting featured on Style Me Pretty or Forbes or Elle Decor, styled shoots, etc.
Focus? Primarily reputation. Auxilary results are profit.If I was down to my last dollar, I'd spend it on public relations. Click To Tweet
“Pitching” is the words used for (usually) cold contacting someone to start up a conversation about getting coverage or being featured. In a company, it’s the job of a publicist or PR department, which is usually within or connected to the marketing department.
Paid marketing placements. Pay-to-play, baby.
Focus? Profitability—make more than you spend.
If you want to dig a bit deeper and build a marketing & PR full plan with both of these tools, check out my post over here.
Okay, let’s dig in, here are the 5 things I want you to have spots for in your pitch email template.
I always start off by saying something like, “I know you’re busy, so I’ll make it quick.”
Somebody wrote that in a pitch email to me one time when I was writing some freelance stories, and I really appreciated it. I think people like to be reminded, “Yes, thank you. I do have a life, I’m not just sitting here reading these.”
So, as you build out a template, I’d write placeholder copy to that effect first.
Then, we’re going to break into that pitch’s hook.
The hook? It’s a quick one-liner that presents why what you’ve got should be interesting to the outlet.
PR is essentially free, because you’re asking someone for an opportunity to provide them with some content, and then hoping that you can secure something. (p.s. You’re going to get told no a lot, and that’s okay! Part of it!)
In the next line of your template, you’re going to put a hook placeholder. The exact copy will change every time.
Why? Because journalists are looking for the story. You need to figure out the hook that makes your story different, and get.to.it.fast! It’s not going to be interesting to their readership if it doesn’t have a hook.
PR consultant Brigitte Lyons unpacks 7 ways to create a hook in this article, and they’re great (btw, all her stuff’s great. She just teaches PR, and I’ve followed her since before I left corporate when I was looking around at how I wanted to apply my skills to the creative world.).
Here are 7 ways she suggests you could approach a hook:
And when you figure it out, get to it fast.
Here are two examples of how that copy could read:
Example 1: Creative lawyer pitching to a national outlet for photographers
“A story about a photographer is circulating, as she now owes $45,000 to the IRS for collecting payment without operating as a true business. WHEW! The IRS is no joke! Since your website is devoted to education for budding photographers, I had an idea for a guest post I could write for your audience to protect them from such nightmares—was thinking “4 Legal Must-Do’s Before You Turn Your Photography Hobby into a Job.”
Example 2: Artist pitching to lifestyle print magazine
“Noticed you just added a pet lovers column (OBSESSED! You mentioned you have a Boykin—that’s what we have, too!), and had an idea for a story. I’m an artist local to the Charleston area, and I actually paint pet portraits … the ultimate gift for the pet lover, right?
Had a couple of story ideas to see if you were interested—maybe a round-up post for pet lover gifts, or a behind-the-scenes look at how artists like me capture likenesses of furry family members.”
Next, introduce who you are, and explain why you’re coming to them.
This will probably include a snippet of your bio copy (I have a shop resource if you need more hand-holding there) and then another placeholder where you’ll put some personal information and connection.
Do you have mutual friends or clients that connected to you?
Had you read their latest story? Have you used one if their articles to help you out? (Ahem, ahem—this is a good place to start!)
What is the mutual shared relationship there?
Tie it into why they should care to hear from YOU—here’s a real life pitch I secured, and see how I connected my bio to the podcast interviewer, even when I didn’t know her personally?
Pro tip: look them up on social media … can you dig around a bit to see what they recently wrote, and let them know you read it? If you can dig a bit and find some cocktail conversation starters, it won’t feel totally “cold call.”
Now, give your pitch ideas details.
You can transition by adding copy in your pitch template that says:
“I have an idea that I think would be great for your PUBLICATION NAME audience.”
Or, “I had a few ideas that would compliment what you have going on.”
Then, you want to give a couple of ideas for the content you could help them with.
Maybe it’s 3 topics that you could cover if you were on their podcast, or maybe it’s 1 to 3 story ideas you could help out with as a guest expert—topics you usually comment on or full ideas you already fleshed out. Though, if you’re only giving one idea, I’d maybe include a couple of other ideas that you’d be available to comment on.
Again, here’s a snippet from a pitch I secured—please remember that this is my work, and people have gotten in their inboxes in working with me, so just be original as you let this inspire you! 🙂
My pro tip for getting story ideas? Grab a cup of coffee at your local big box bookstore, and pick up a whole stack of magazines! Then, while you sit and flip through, you’ll see lots of stories that will get your wheels turning.
Finally, thank them for their time and end with a call to action step.
Go for something a bit more than “I hope to hear from you.” Instead, I’d get specific when I pitched. I’d include copy like:
“Is this something you’d be interested in?”
“Is there one of these topics idea you’d like me to pull more details on?”
“Would you mind keeping me in mind as you plan out next quarter’s podcast interviews?”
See what I mean? Wrap it up with a copy snippet like that, or a placeholder if you’re building out your template.
I have a magic word that I want you to go ahead and put in your email template here. I want you to use the word “partner.”
As in, “How can I partner with you to give great content to your audience?”
I promise, it will take you places!
Alright, it’s your turn! What is your favorite media outlet or publication you’ve consumed lately—is there a magazine you always read, or a podcast you never miss? I’d love to hear below!
Don’t forget to grab that full list of email pitch templates! Until next time, remember to set up sustainable writing systems in your business so you can work from a place of rest, not hustle.
Freshly sharpened pencil bouquet ready, I'm here to make sure you stand out as a copywriter and calligraphy. I help women like you steward your story well, so you can work from a place of rest—not hustle.