Pitching "Best Practices"
All right so I am so excited to share this nest next part with everyone in the studio audience and out on the internet because how many times do you actually have direct access to magazine editors to ask them what they want to hear when they're hearing from you guys so I'm just curious has anyone ever talked to a magazine editor about what it is that they want anna okay scale it was like local slash regional okay great great did you do you feel like you got some good insights or was it more general how do you feel about what information you got yeah it was mainly it was for a holiday gift guide and it was for it was mainly like what we talked about how how would you um how what's your preference on getting the material you know well I get them back kind of like exactly what you're talking about okay great so great but not on a big scale right oh and then you robin and looked like you were going to say something yeah I worked with andi editor that had worked with for a long time so it w...
as more what they needed specifically jewelry rise like wait what they were working on in there shoot so it wasn't it wasn't more like what do you like how do you like to work things like that? Because I had worked with her for all ready for a while okay great radio and sometimes you'll see that if you hear enough back from an editor sometimes they'll tell you exactly what it is that they're looking for they'll say you know I'd love a lifestyle shot or I love a picture with this type of product or can you send me more information on this? So has he started working with them? You're really going to get to know them and really get to know what they're looking for so I'm going to save you guys a lot of time here today by talking about what I consider to be pitching best practices and these are things that I've done myself that I had to learn over the last seven or eight years or so doing publicity for my own products and then working with clients as well and then also directly from what the editors are saying that they're telling me that they want and they were super excited to share this with me because I feel like it's a great platform to really get out there to a lot of entrepreneurs that are actually pitching their products so as you know pitching if you've done it it really can be scary and it could be make you feel really vulnerable at first because you're putting your company out there that you've worked so hard to build and what if you get no response what if you get a no back it's really scary right? A lot of times when we put ourselves out there especially something that we spend so much time creating and we love it we're so excited about it and now we're sort of turning the tables and letting other people give us feedback on what we think is one of the most amazing things in the world right? So it definitely can be scary and couldn't make you feel super vulnerable but that's okay because that's gonna happen and the more you do it the easier it's going to get for you so here are some things that I think our best practices to keep in mind as you're pitching editor so now you have your media lists ready you have your stories ready you know your customers what do you do when you actually sending the email so think of pitching as a two way conversation so instead of focusing on it as I'm selling my products to you or I'm trying to convince you that you should be writing about my products think about it more as I know unit this I have this thing that you need how can we sort of work together and come to an agreement where you're happy because your readers are going to be happy or your subscribers are going to be happy and I'm happy because I'm getting exposure in your magazine so if you think about it as a two way conversation where you're working with them together to come up with this great story so you could be featured in a magazine or on a blogged that makes it a lot less intimidating, right? Cause we have conversations every day all over lives it's not that scary to have a conversation, so if you just shift your mind mindset around this is just a conversation I'm having with another person was doing their job and I'm providing value and getting something in return sometimes sometimes you might not be getting anything in return. It definitely makes it a lot less scary then when you're just pitching pitching so think of pitching not a selling your products to them but as a way to provide value. So when you are suggesting to them a product that they couldn't use in their gift guy you providing them with value because you're helping them do their jobs you're saving them time and everyone is short on time these days we all want things that are already set up for us that are easy for us to just copy and paste or just get a photo from a website so I don't already have to I don't have to take it again, but if you think of it as something, were you providing value to them as opposed to just pitching your products it's going to go a lot farther than if you're just pitching and I know I've mentioned that a lot throughout this the last few days, it's really about providing value, and it goes the same with when you're sending out a newsletter to your customers. It's not about you sign up for my newsletter here is my product or sale that I'm having it's all about? How can you provide value to your customers and it's the same with retailers? If you're selling wholesale, you were talking about that yesterday, and where you're going to shift your thinking to think about what can I do for them? And how is my product going to help them with their business, as opposed to buy my products? Because they're great and they're awesome, and this is my business, so it's great, so just shift you're thinking around it, and any as aspect of your business where you're interacting with someone else it's all about providing value as opposed to selling, which is why I think a lot of people are afraid of, quote, unquote, selling it's because they know when you're selling, you're pushing something on someone who might or might not be receptive to it. But if you're thinking even in a sales meeting or when he really are trying to sell something, if you think about it as how can I provide something that you need, then it's going to seem a lot less daunting, a lawless, intimidating and it's goingto make your pitch come across better they're probably going to be more receptive because they don't feel automatically defensive that they might have to say no right away so it just really helps with the dynamic of whatever is going on and it really does help to make the sale if you just approach it as a way to provide value. So next research research research and I say that because I think knowing your outlet, knowing your magazine, knowing what other articles an editor or a blogger might have written about before the more you know about the specific editor or the specific blogger and their publication or outlet the easier it's going to be for you to actually connect with them because people want connection, they want to know that you appreciate what they're doing. So if you reach out to someone and you say I loved your latest article or I loved your latest issue and how you wrote about this, they're going to be more likely to respond and to get back to you. So research your outlet as much as you can before you actually start pitching it and then once you've done that, we've talked about this a lot but make sure you pitched the most irrelevant story to the appropriate person, so a relevant story means that if you have a jewelry line you by not necessarily pitch it's to the home editor but to the jewelry or the accessories or the style or the fashion editor, so think about it, who is the most appropriate person that you need to connect with and what's the best story that they're interested in at that time and pitch that instead of just sending out emails like I once did, where it's thousands of emails at a time? And yes, I got a response, but also some of the was not targeted. I spent a lot of time sending out samples to people that just wanted free samples that were not a good food because if I'm going to offer them something for free, it's hard to say no to something that's free, especially something like a t shirt or ah, necklace or something like that. So aa lot of times, if it's relevant or their magazine is not relevant and you're offering them to send them a sample, they're probably going to say yes, even though it's not relevant to them. So the more relevant you are, the more time you're going to save and the more money you're going to save with sending out samples to onley outlets that are really relevant for your brand. So this is another key is to pitch a story specific to their outlet and no generic pitches. So when you say something like, which is why I'm not such a huge fan always off sending out a press release or a generic message is that it's not relevant to them because they could be working on a specific story on ly at a specific time? So if you send out a press release about the new person you just hired in your company that's not really relevant to them unless, like we're talking yesterday unless it's a magazine that specifically talks about employees or lawyers or new brands that are getting new managers so it's more of a trade magazine, but the consumer magazines there really are just working on a specific story at a specific time and those press releases and just mass distributing those, even though a press release distribution service could tell you it's going to go out to thirty thousand different journalists. Well, most of those are probably not going to be relevant to you, and again, you're wasting their time and you're wasting your time and your money sending out samples that you could have really saved for those outlets that were really, really specific for you on your products. So this is another one I know that comes up a lot, but I'm a huge fan of never pitching by phone and that's because people are so busy nowadays and if you make them pick up the phone interrupt their work flow. They're going to be really upset with you. So imagine you're an editor and they are working on a super tight that line, which most of them do they're always working on a deadline, and I know all of us do as entrepreneurs to, but if they're working on a super tight deadline and they have maybe a photo to get a hold of or they need to coordinate something with some of their other colleagues and the phone rings and you say hi, my name is mary, and I wanted to tell you about my jewelry, they're going to be really upset because it's not it's, not relevant, it's not on their own time, it's not on their own terms and yes, they've picked up the phone, but maybe they were expecting a phone call from their colleague who had that photo that they needed to be ready. So if you're just interrupting their day and yes, they're at work, they're supposed to be there working, but they're going to be really upset, which is why any time you talk to them, most of them will prefer to be pitched by email. This could be a little different if it's ah, like we're talking yesterday, a smaller let's say of the local newspaper or something like that where they really want to get to know the person behind the story and they need to coordinate with you and it's something where it's on a much smaller scale I think the phone can be ok, but again any of the larger magazines definitely the phone is a definite no do not pitch by phone they're not going to answer it and just think about all of the extra work you're creating for them because they have to pick up the phone, listen to you for a couple of minutes right down your website go back to their desk or maybe if they're still sitting at their desk, visit your website, maybe print something out take it to their meeting so it's a lot of extra work and I know I feel this way too when someone calls me by phone, it really does in trumped everything I'm doing and it creates so much extra work that I'd rather be focusing on the work that I'm doing and I know they feel the same way because I've asked them and they all feel the same way so as I said there's some exceptions the general rule is just pitch via email and sometimes I know people who have pitched by sending a postcard and that might seem like it's it's outdated you know who really gets their mail anymore and can you really get a story from that? But I know a couple of people who send out a postcard to maybe announce something and then they followed up via email and when if you're an editor and you get a postcard in the mail of a product that looks really cool and looks really interesting and then you see an email in your inbox from that same company or the same product you might again that's the second time we've seen them so you might be more likely to actually open the email so sometimes that works it can get really expensive and you have to get a designer or design a postcard and printed and buy stamps and take it's the post office and ah hole of that other work so I have seen it where it does work if you have the time to do it and if you have the budget to do it it could be really great and you could be effective but if you just really want to get there and get in their inbox pitching by email is really the best the best thing I would suggest for you guys and for everyone out there who's watching and next is that timing is really important so we talked about lead times and when editors are working on a story as opposed to one, bloggers are working on it or maybe a tv show they all have differently time but in terms of lead time, this is just for magazines, and I know I said the three to six month rule, but sometimes that's a little hard to put into perspective, so I wanted to share with you guys my lead time cheat sheet about when they're working on something, so if you want to be featured in there, may issue your bus but is to start pitching in january, and you notice that I said start pitching because that's when you can start and thiss timeline builds in a couple of extra weeks so that if you do want to follow up and maybe contact the different editor it's going to give you a couple more weeks to actually be able to reach out to someone else at a magazine. So this is just for long lead magazines that work about three to six months in advance, and this is the rest of the year as well. So you'll see here that if you want to get in holiday gift guides, you're probably gonna have to pitch in july or august, depending if they're doing it in november or december. Sometimes I feel like it's better to go on the longer side and pitch a little farther in advance. Rather than mr deadline. So sometimes what I'll do is if I want to get in december, I'll start pitching in july and following up in august or in march all star pitching in september and then follow through in october so you can see how much work you want to put into it how much time you have cause we have so many other things to do, too, but this, I think, is going to help you as you're putting your publicity plan together to really know when is the best time to start pitching now, let's talk about unsolicited packages, so with the exception of the editor oprah magazine, who loves to receive packages so he could actually have the product there, which makes sense to that that's, really, it makes a lot of sense to have the product, take it to your team, see what products they like and the ones who they like, they can request more information that makes a lot of sense to, but most magazines don't work that way, and most of the time, if you send the package it's probably going to go on open and end up somewhere where it shouldn't, it shouldn't be, you know, it could be a member of the staff were really likes it, and they might use it. But they're probably not going to open something that's unsolicited there are some exceptions here if you let's say if you are a pr firm and you already know the editors and you take on a couple of new clients and you want to impress them and you make a huge package that really has an impact that's probably going to get opened because it's this huge thing that's sitting you know in their officer in the mail room but most of us as smaller entrepreneurs we're not going to have the funds to create big packages with a ton of other products and really great really great marketing and all of those things that really stand out so I wouldn't recommend sending unsolicited packages if you just have a couple of products yes robin did you have a question actually work to did a tv show a talk show and when I got a tour of it she's like oh and here's the room of everything they could send to us that we didn't ask for that doesn't ever return out like all the stuff that's being kind of pitched but made a whole room full of stuff wow so yeah, thanks for sure yeah that's pretty interesting I hadn't heard of that, but I was imagining that's exactly what it would be but yeah it's true they don't open it and interestingly, even when they request your product they might still not opening which is why I would recommend marking the outside of your box and big bold letters I like to put it in big red letters or big black marker saying as requested because they know if they see something as requested that the mail room who distributes the packages if it's a bigger office they're going to know that that product was actually requested and they're going to remember in your package is really going to stand out from all of the other packages that they're getting so if you know you requested something and there's a reminder on the box again you're more likely to open it because sometimes even when they requested they might still not open it because they have so many other things and so many things coming in and it really couldn't get really overwhelming for them so just make it easy for them tio to know that it's a package that they actually asked for now let's talk about when you send email so you want to give them the option to opt out of your email communication I know if you're familiar with the email rules and acts you'll know that every time you email someone who hasn't specifically asked to be on your list it's considered spam so any time you want tio conform to those rules you have to give people the option to opt out so what ideo at the bottom of one every one of my e mails and this is what the database or the mailing list services do as well they'll make sure that people could opt out of your email address and if you're using a service like constant contact or male chimp they have that built and so you can't even send out an email without giving people the option to opt out but if you're sending it for your own from your own company's email account you want to have a little line at the bottom that says something like if you no longer want to receive our e mails please you know please hit unsubscribe or email us back and we'll take you offer list but you want to give them that option to comply with all of those rules when you're sending out unsolicited email messages which all of these pitches are unsolicited because they didn't technically asked for it so just keep that in mind as you're sending out e mails and really give them an option to say no if they want to know and if you do get someone un subscribing our unsubs please don't take it personally it's not about you or is just your product is not a good fit for their magazine or there may be they don't cover this type of product even though you thought they might so don't take it personally don't feel like oh my god everyone's going to unsubscribe now and I'm not gonna have a liz just make a note of that no not to ever contact them again and maybe reach out to someone else at the magazine or at the blogger or at the outlet that you're trying to pitch so night next let's talk about keeping it short and get to the point right away, which I think is super important because we have so much to say, right? I'm all about telling your story, but when you're pitching, you really have to keep it short. You can send out a tine of paragraphs and of really long email because I know personally when I get an email before I even read it, I look at how long it is to see if I have time to read it right? Can you guys relates to that right? We look at our in box open, the message of the subject line is interesting and then we see how long it is and if it's too long, I just put it in another folder it's literally titled to read later and I never get to its to read later because there's so many other messages that are coming in for me to read later and then a couple of times a year, I just delete that entire folder because I just don't have the time to get to it, so if they see a really long message they're probably not going to read it, so you can still get your message across if it's short and to the point on dh that's why I really wanted to provide all of those scripts for you guys, so you really couldn't see exactly how short it should be and how all of the information that you could fit in there. And I usually say, as a general rule, I would keep my email pitch to about three to four paragraphs of about three to four sentences each paragraph. So for anyone who's wondering, well, how short is short? Probably that's a good rule of thumb to go by and just really get to the point right away. Don't start out with what your company does or how long you've been in business or the new products you just launch, just get to it right away and say, if you're working on this or I know you're probably working on this type of story, or I saw on your website that you're requesting this type of article and just again use the word you a lot and start your email with you and tell them exactly why you're there in their inbox at that time, and then after you do that in the first paragraph, you could really get to the second paragraph and tell them a little bit. About how their readers come benefit from your products about a little bit about your story and then offer them to send them a sample in your closing paragraph and give them your contact information. Yes, stan, did you have a question session on e mails? I don't know if you're going to talk about it, but the subject line. Have you found that certain subjects worked better than others? Do you have the title of sort of the content that you're going to put in, or how do you how do you get them to even click on that email? So they read the three to four paragraphs? Yeah, so definitely having a good subject line that grabs their attention is key to actually getting them to open it. So what? I recommend super simple if you're just following up on something I always start out with following up on and whatever I'm falling, you know, following up on your holiday gift guide or following up on the guest post article or something like that, but if you start with following up on then they know that you've already reached out to them before, and they did an answer, so it's sort of gives them a little more urgency on dh they're more likely to open it because they know it's your second time. Reaching out to them so that's where the follow up email but for my initial email, I found out a lot of times if used their name in the subject line that gets them tio open it a lot more if you didn't use your name sometimes if you ask them a question and your subject line that works really well so you can say something like, are you still looking for products for your holiday gift guide, or are you still looking for an article on pinterest or would you be interested in a story about technology or something like that? Where it's specific enough but not too specific? Um, and you're not giving it all away just in our subject line, but you're asking them a question, and when you ask someone a question, they're automatically engaged with your content, so they're more likely to be curious and to say, oh, I wonder what you know, I wonder what that is or maybe I should check check that out to see if it's relevant to me, so using their name, asking them a question works really well and again keep it really short because I know a lot of email programs, they only this place or a number of character, so if you just keep going on and on it probably it's probably not going to get right, so sometimes I do like to be really vague, for example, with with my t shirts, I would sometimes I would say something like, have you ever heard of the t shirt that planted a tree? Right? Because it's sort of like, what a t shirt that plant a tree, how is that possible? And it piques their interest, but I'm not really telling them what I'm pitching about. I'm not saying this is for your holiday gift guide, or this is for your valentine's they give guide, so just play around with different subject lines, and sometimes what I like to do is I'd like to make a list of a few subject lines and send out a couple of emails, maybe like twenty or so, and see if one subject line is getting more response than the others, and then if so, then I'll go ahead and use that subject line for the rest of the e mails that I'm sending out. If you decide to send out maybe one hundred e mails or so at a time. So yes, so just test and see what works for you, but if you use your name, if you make it really informal, um that's also more likely to get open, I know sometimes I get e mails that say things like breaking news, you know, in all caps, and sometimes I'm curious, I think, ok, what's this breaking news, maybe I need to know about this and I'll open it, and then I'll read the content and it's not, it might be breaking news to them, but it's not breaking news to me as someone who's writing about entrepreneurs that have a product. So I actually just got an email like that yesterday and I opened, and I was like, why is breaking you know it, I know it is to you, but it's, not that relevant to me, so don't exaggerate and don't put it all in caps and say things like press release or for your for your press or something like that where you really make them interested, but then you're not delivering on what you're saying. So if you do have breaking news that, ofcourse, go ahead and say breaking news. But if it's not just think about it is a breaking news to them, or is it breaking news to me? And if the answer is no to them, then you should invite it. Yeah, and then email subject lines where it says press release or or urgent press release, I think that they automatically just lead those because they get a ton of those and they're not that, well, you're not telling them why they should open it, and they're not going to open it just because it's a press release, but if you see if they see that in their in box and then the next message says something like for your valentine's day gift guide, which is a lot of more specific and they're working on the valentine's, they give god, they're more likely to open it. So great question about subject lines and I think really that's the first part of being successful with this is just coming up with a really great subject line and in those done for you templates that I share, I have my subject lines in there as well, so you guys can see what's worked for me in terms of subject lines, so we talked about generic press releases just don't send them. I don't think I need to spend any more time on why you shouldn't send them, but just wanted to put it out there as a reminder, so that way you guys know there, they're not going to be effective. So let's talk about being accommodating to the reporter because sometimes what happens is that you're so excited you get out there and someone says yes, and they say, ok, the sounds great are you available for an interview tomorrow? And if you're not available for an interview tomorrow that's really going to make them upset so you have to be if you're going to put yourself and your products out there you have to be available for whatever else they need and I don't always you know, sometimes people ask me well, how fast should I answer should I sit by my email after I send it out just in case they want something back and do I need to respond right away and my rule is that if you can respond right away you should I don't recommend just sitting by your email waiting for people to answer back but sometimes you might be waiting for a long time and you have so many other things to dio but usually my rule is if you're getting back to them within twelve to twenty four hours I think that's that's pretty timely sometimes I will get requests just a couple of weeks ago I emailed for the february issue for valentine's they on an editor roll back and she said I want a super tight deadline can I have photos by five p m today so I had to make sure she had photos by five p m today but if my photos weren't ready then I probably would have missed out on that opportunity because my response would not have worked with her with her deadline so it's very rare sometimes I think you know, I should just be sitting by my email all day just in case they need something by five p m or in the next hour, but that only really has happened a handful of times, maybe like four, five times for the last seven or so or so years that I've been doing this where they want something that day and a few hours and luckily I was checking my email anyone and I happened to be able to do it, but don't sit by by your email and wait just in case they might want this because this is more of an exception, not necessarily the role, so be accommodating if they want high resolution photos on a white background, make sure you have them if they want to have you for an interview, whether it's a phone interview or an in person interview just think about what it is that you can and can't do and let them know if you are available to work with them on that. And now, here's one of my favorite things that I always like to talk about and I actually wrote a whole block post on using the word just so what happens a lot and I'm curious to see and if anybody can relate here, but have you ever said called on the phone or wrote an email and said, I'm just writing to tell you about this or I'm just calling because I saw your article has anyone then that can anyone relates to saying I'm just yeah, I think I think it's dry I'm just calling to check in right and it's something we do all the time but as soon as you say I'm just calling you're automatically just sort of making yourself seem really, really small because if you're saying I'm just calling or I'm just emailing you're sort of saying I know I'm bothering you but I'm going to do this anyway and you never want to come across as you know you're bothering someone so I know this is really subtle but it's so important in any aspect of your business don't ever just say I'm just calling to do this or I'm just following up to do this or I'm just doing this so I want you guys to take that word out of her vocabulary in your business I'm when your personal lives as well if you want tio but as soon as you say I'm just calling to do this you're automatically implying that you're bothering somebody and if you have such great value to offer them you're not bothering them you're helping them you're providing value so I know this is really subtle and yeah, but I know we do it all of the time so just take that out of your vocabulary right now I know I do said jazz, but take it out of your four cabin larry right now and don't ever use it again in your business, especially in your pitches because you're not bothering them, you have a great product, you have a great service, you're an expert and what it is that you do and you need to start believing in that on dh the more you can believe in yourself and in your products, the more successful you're going to get. All right, so now let's talk about social media, so we talked about twitter, we talked about linked and we didn't talk that much about facebook, so if you pitch on social media, my personal opinion is that twitter is ok and facebook is not ok and the reason I think that is because facebook started out as a network for people to connect with their friends and their family and people they knew so it's not really appropriate. We're talking about this than before if you know the personal email address should you be pitching them via via their personal email? Now there is an exception if you find their facebook profile and you see that they have a ton of followers or a ton of people who like them and they're using get more for business rather than personal reasons, then that's totally fine because they're telling you I'm ok with using my facebook profile for business and I know when I first started using facebook, it was strictly for friends and people that I personally knew, but as I started to get more clients and more people taking my courses, they started requesting me as a friend, so I had to decide, ok, do I still keep my facebook just for people that I actually know? Or can I open it up to someone else? So I decided to use and more for business rather, and I use it personally. So if someone's pitching me on facebook that's totally fine because I'm letting them know it's fine, because I'm talking about business related topics on facebook, it's not all about just my friends and family, but if you can see any of their post if they've made them private or if you don't see any of the conversation on their facebook page about their business or their magazine or their blawg, just stay away from it and don't pitch on there. But twitter, I think, is totally fine because I don't think twitter started out as a network for people to connect with their friends and families. It was really perfect for journalists for entrepreneurs, so it's totally ok to pitch on there, but don't make it again they'll make it about you and don't just pitch saying, check on my products. But start out with saying I loved your article and and be jenny wine if you didn't love it then don't say you love that just do so you can get to them but there's a distinction there and lengthen I think because it's a business network it's okay to pitch v ellington as long as you're providing them value and making it a two way conversation as opposed to just a way for you to advertise your products. We also talked about following up and at first when I started I would follow up two or three times with the media and then I realized that ok, they haven't responded by my follow up it's probably because they've moved on to a different story and they work super fast and what they were working on this week is probably not going not going to be the same as what they were working on the following week there is an exception sometimes if I reach out to store to stores to sell my products to their store, I will definitely follow up more than once it's usually for me from selling to a store I have a year long process where I actually will follow up every every couple of months for an entire year and then if I still haven't heard from them by that point then I probably will move on to another retailer but with the press because they move so fast their timelines are so short just following up more than once is probably not going to really get you anywhere and you're wasting your time you're wasting their time as well yes, you know let's say you were successful in getting into a magazine do you know if editors ever want to hear from you again? Would you ever see your product in the magazine twice maybe spaced out or let's say once you hit gold and you get in the magazine he kind of just say all right the magazine's done because they don't want to repeat my product or service yeah, I think another great question and my rule for that is that I would wait at least another year before I pitch again and that's because if they wrote about your product even though it could be a totally different story they're probably not going to write about it again and I know with magazines I've pitched a couple of times there was always at least a two year period to be honest before they wrote about my products again and even when I wrote an article for a magazine it was last year and then they just e mailed me back again now a couple weeks ago and they said hey would you be willing to write another article for us but they waited a long time before they approached me again so great question I think that magazines would like new material. You know, they want to see fresh. They do. You don't want readers to say, you know what? I saw that last month, right? Yeah, exactly, I mean, and it's. Almost always. They're probably not going to write about you for at least at least six months, if not more, like a year or even two years.