We’ve recently introduced a new press pitching feature to our campaigns. Pitching to blogs, magazines, journalists, and startup news related websites can be a huge opportunity for exposure and attention. Unfortunately, many startups pitch the completely wrong way, the members of the media that they pitched to will throw away their pitch without even looking at their product and the startup will lose its reputation in the media and won’t get a story on them. Use these tips and points as a guideline and base as you write your pitch.
Keep it short. Keep It Simple.
Many pitches are over-written, long, and drawn out. At a certain point, the media won’t want to even read it or think you are just pushing the limits into writing your own company’s story for them. You want to make sure you are pitching them, not sending them a half written post about your startup. While writing your pitch be sure to remember to keep it simple and concise.
Avoid High-Interest Keywords
When pitching to gain media attention, startups, especially founders, tend to over embellish their product’s pitch to gain proper attention and interest in the product. This needs to be avoided at all costs.
Here’s an example of using high-interest keywords: “MeowCats is a unique and quickly growing startup that is focusing on providing a new kind of social service to felines. MeowCats introduces new social features such as improved profile pictures which are great for cat lovers and photographers alike. Meowcats is a great investment for cat lovers and opens up the world to a bright and cute social phenomenon.”
The founder of MeowCats is clearly biased and over-embellishing in his startup’s offering. Writers already know your startup is most likely new and knows that your product is probably not hugely unique to all the others out there, so stop using all these buzzwords to explain your startup. The founder of MeowCats is using so many keywords to describe the greatness of his product, but he is not truly explaining why and what makes the product so great.
Don’t Over-Explain Your Target Customers
Pitches will occasionally begin in the opposite direction in terms of a good target customer explanation. While avoiding high-interest keywords, explaining your customers in a simple and non-intrusive manner is key here. While you explain your product in a clear and concise manner the journalist will get the idea of who the target customer is, no need to over-explain and ruin your entire pitch because of it.
Give A Catchy Headline
Creating a catchy headline that provides a quick summary of your product to the point of interest can get the writer wanting to open your pitch and read the rest of it. While having a catchy and alluring headline is important, it is even more important to keep your headline truthful and relevant to your product.
Avoiding common phrases and words in headlines will also create favor for your pitch. Much like avoiding high-interest keywords in your pitch, you need to avoid these types of words in your header, especially since it is the first part of your pitch the journalist will see.
Don’t Offer A Bribe
Many startups will use incentives for writing about their startup, for example: ” Upon your interest in a story on us, we will publish an advertisement free of charge on our about page and add you to our press page.”
Adding in bribe centered sentences in your pitch can wreak havoc on your reputation, both yours professionally and your startups. Never offer a bribe. You may not be overly intentional in offering a bribe, however it is crucial to keep all incentive based elements out of your pitch. If your product is good enough for a story, they will benefit from it by having a quality story their readers will love. Offering a bribe will not make them want to write about your startup more, especially if the product is not of quality, it will only lower your professionalism.
Provide A Pass
If you are pitching a product that you actively sell, meaning you actively charge money for access to it, chances are the media won’t want to pay just to try out your product and possibly have a decent story from it. If this is the case, offer a free pass link or code. This will allow them to gain access without them having to pay or having to take the time to ask you for a free pass.
Present Relevant “About” Information
Journalists want to know from whom they are getting a pitch. Creating an appropriate and enticing signature in your pitch will do just this. Include in your signature: your first and last name, position title, phone number, business email (never use personal emails), and if possible, add a small photo of yourself. Like I previously noted, journalists love to know who they are getting a pitch from, and it will make your pitch stand out and personal from all the countless other pitches they receive every day. Though some people would take this advice loosely and upload their informal profile picture from Facebook with someone else half cropped out. Don’t do this.
I would recommend using Wisestamp to create a simple yet enticing email signature for both your pitches and everyday emailing. However, keep in mind to never include more social profile information than your Twitter, adding your Instagram, Facebook, Vine, and Pinterest accounts can be a bit overkill.
Use Caution When Linking to Previous Coverage
The majority of journalists don’t want to see a bunch of links to past stories and coverage of your startup. Particularly in the case of it being very recent or a long time ago. Showcasing coverage recently may discourage the journalist into writing about you because it’s “fresh” news and it’s already currently being featured at other publications’ homepage.
Never Use Generalized Introductions
Using generalized greetings and introductions will make your email look like a mass-produced email and completely non-personal. It’s this reason when pitching to avoid the terms, “Dear press,” “Hello Bloggers,” or “To Journalists,”.
Proofread, Proofread, and Proofread More
You can never go wrong with proofreading your pitches to the media. We all make mistakes from time to time, but often or not, you will want to proofread this pitch to the maximum. Grammar use, spelling, wording, overused words, all want to be proofread over and filtered. The last thing you want to do is misword something making it sound like you are spamming them into writing for you, accidentally insulting the journalist (Yes, this happens surprisingly often), or maybe you even mistakenly misspell your startup’s name.
Keep it simple.
In conclusion, you don’t want to sound like a commercial. Don’t overpitch your startup. The ideal perfect pitch is to be simple and clear, and tell what your product does simply (without sales pitch talk). To put it bluntly, your startup story is not unique. Journalists and bloggers are pitched day in and day out, and they don’t want to hear how unique your startup and story is.