Hey, I know. Pitching bloggers, reporters and media outlets isn’t really your favorite way to spend an afternoon or build links (for yourself or clients). I get it. As a blogger, I hate receiving your pitch so I only imagine how much you detest writing them.
Though, I guess that’s not true. I don’t hate all pitches. I just hate link pitches that suck. Or that refer to me as a dude.
Unfortunately, that’s all I seem to be getting lately. I’m not sure if the hot sun is melting people’s brains, if the humans are on vacation and it’s the bots sending me pitches or if folks sincerely have forgotten all traces of people’s skills, but my inbox is not looking pretty. And I’m not even referring to that guy who tried to pitch OSM a guestpost on fire suits.
No really. Fire suits.
Below are seven tips for sending better link pitches. Because, let’s face it, pitching is an important link building strategy. And without links, well, there go your site’s search engine optimization efforts.
1. Be Personal
If you’re going down the road of pitching someone, it’s because (I hope) you’ve identified this person/site as being influential in its space and having an audience that you think could benefit from whatever you’ve got. And if that’s the case, give them the proper respect by learning their name, gender, and a factoid or two about them. Does this take a little bit of time? Yes. About three minutes. But I’m not even going to read your email if you address me as “Dear Sir” or refer to my company as “Out Spoken Media”. You didn’t read anything on our site, why should I waste my time with you?
2. Script Lightly
You’re mass emailing people using a script that helps you make the whole thing a lot less time consuming and costly. I understand that. But your entire pitch should NOT be a script. The only thing that should be scripted is the few lines where you’re “selling” me without selling me. The rest of your email needs to sounds human and like you were actually present when you wrote it. Otherwise, you’re dead in the water.
Have a script; don’t die by it.
3. Be Brief
When sending out pitches, you should assume that you have someone’s attention span for only the amount of time it takes them to scan your message in their email’s preview pane, so use that time wisely. Do not think you’re closing the deal in your first email. Your first email is simply where you woo me. Drop me a few details about who you are, what you want and why my audience should care. That last part is the most important, by the way. If you’re able to make your case, I’ll inquire back and then we can start a conversation. I don’t need your headshot, social security number and names of all six of your children in our first contact. That weirds me out a little. Be brief. Get to the point.
4. Remove Buzzwords Before Hitting Send
The more buzzwords you place in your pitch, the harder it’s going to be for anyone to take you seriously. There is not enough alcohol in this office to play buzzword bingo with you so please don’t use the word “game-changer” to describe your Twitter monitoring tool. It makes me laugh at you.
5. Be Upfront
I understand that it’s customary to stroke my ego a little bit. It’s nice to mention a post you read of mine five minutes ago when you were doing research last week or comment on something I’ve recently tweeted. And that’s fine. White lies are necessary in any relationship. Put let’s not get carried away. Don’t get so lost in your fake flattery that you’re wasting both of our time telling me that I’m awesome and how you’ve been reading me for years. Instead, give me some proper respect by just being honest with me. If you’re pitching to me because I have a wide audience of the folks you’re trying to reach, you can just tell me that. If you’re pitching me because you want access to my 18,000+ Twitter followers, say it. I’ll respect you more in the morning for being upfront. And as long as you’re pitching something that’s worth it, I’m not going to be offended. I’ll be thankful you’re here.
6. Tell Me What You Want
Why are we having this conversation? Do you want to write a guest post on my site? Do you want me to write a post on your site and then pimp it out using my audience? Do you want me to write a story about something your company is doing? Whatever it is, tell me, exactly. Don’t make me guess because, no, I don’t want to have a conversation with your CEO to learn about how we could “help each other”. I just want to know what you want.
Later in the process you should also let me know the rules – If I’m to publish your content as-is, if I can edit anything, question links, etc. Many times us bloggers get into trouble with SEO people simply because we weren’t sure about what we could and could not do. So just let me know what you’d like. I don’t mind helping someone out whose providing value to my readers.
7. Don’t Make Email Your First Point Of Contact
Hey, sometimes you really don’t have a choice and that’s cool. But if you can, connect me with on some other social channel before you hit my inbox. The appropriate channel will be based on what network that person seems to prefer. For me, it’s obviously Twitter. Introduce yourself there. Say hello. Retweet something. Encourage people to vote for me in the Small Business Influencer Awards. Whatever. Just find some other way to get my attention because I’m going to be a whole lot more receptive to your email if I recognize your name.
Those are the seven very basic link pitch tips I wish everyone would follow when pitching as part of a larger link building strategy. What irks you? Any examples you’d like to share with the class?
About the Author
Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.