I was reading Adrienne Erin’s muck rack list 7 deadly sins of pitching. It struck me that I had committed many of the sins she mentioned. Maybe I was writing too much, or emailing at the wrong time, or being boring. It’s possible. Unfortunately I don’t know which of the sins to work on. Because there was no dialog.
But thinking about it more, maybe it’s just the nature of email? I’ve definitely tried pitching before, and didn’t seem to get anywhere. Not even a response. It seemed all that formality was falling flat. Ultimately email pitching is a waste of time. There I said it. I’ve sent them, never seemed to get me very far, try, try as I might.
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Reading her sins though, I did feel inspired a bit to write about what has worked for me. And what has worked from time to time is having real conversations on twitter.
What I’ve learned is, drum roll please… don’t make pitching like cold calling or online dating. Because those lack context. Without that, you’re just a stranger…
So what do I do? Here’s what’s worked for me.
1. Twitter has tools, make a list
Search google for a Gigaom, Forbes, Pando or ReadWrite and you can find a list of twitter handles. But they’re all not created equally.
Some folks use twitter as a one-way ticker, but don’t converse much. Or they focus on topics not related to industry & business. Others actively use twitter professionally. Look for the latter folks.
2. Check that list, get interested
I could use the word “engage” but I feel it’s lost it’s meaning. The point here is that twitter is one giant conversation, among folks some known personally, and some only in the social sphere..
Comment on articles, add your opinion, or mention a quote or bit of the piece you thought really struck a nerve.
3. Be helpful, share something you know
Don’t just charge in like a bull, asking for something. No one likes this in business. It’s why I’m frustrated sometimes with recruiters.
See a typo in a title or article, or something that might be awry? Spot a fact that needs clarification? Why not help a reporter out. LOL Think if you were hiring, what type of people would you most likely hire? Those who are helpful.
4. Strike while the iron is hot!
Making a connection is great. And not easy. So don’t go screwing it up asking for too much. Ask if they’re looking for guest bloggers, and who to talk to on your selected topic. Hopefully if you’re already working this hard for a publication, you’ve checked that!
When you have someone’s ear it’s important to avail yourself of it. Email offline, and share some topic ideas, and sexy titles. To me the title is the name of the game these days. Have some in mind. Show that you’re already playing with titles. If you get a good, vibe, write some new material
5. Be open to criticism
Listen more than you speak and heed the guest posting guidelines.
Hear what the editor is suggesting, and be willing to move in a direction that might appeal to the largest audience.
Get something back in a few days. Extending the hot iron metaphor, no time like the present!