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4 Steps to writing a great pitch

Every so often someone calls me for help after reading this blog post, even though I wrote it nearly ten years ago. Some things are still relevant when writing a great pitch – and getting to the point is perhaps even more important than ever. I’ve added a few things just to spruce it up a bit. 

This is a quick primer for writing a great pitch. Answering these questions can help you deliver the right message at the right time, to the right person. 

1. What do you want ? Is it a guest post for their blog, a feature in the magazine, a social mention, a panel spot on broadcast …most of the time people do not say what they actually want – they just talk about themselves.  Explain what you want and always customize to the specific audience. Sure, it’s easy to blast the same email out 100 times but you’re just chumming at that point. You need better bait via a more personalized approach if you really want to land that big fish.

2. Really dig for the most relevant points for the person you’re writing to. Do you have an angle on a timely news story? A unique perception of a common problem? (And before you assume it’s unique, make sure you do your research. A lot of people just haven’t read enough about a topic to know they sound like five other people.) Make those points FIRST. Don’t give an intro. Media doesn’t have time.

3. What gives you the credentials to talk about this, or contribute on the topic? Here’s where what we call your “chops” come into play. Make sure you include your most recent, most relevant experience. This section can be a bit more boilerplate. Sell yourself in 50 words or less and include a picture. But only if it’s a GOOD picture. Make sure you add a hot link to your full bio as well, or linkedin, or whatever is your most current online presence.

4. Ask for the next step. What do you want? A chance to chat live about the idea? Send them your new book? Have them read your bio? Even the smallest activity is a good conversion. If you don’t know this person, your biggest goal at this point should be to get on their radar screen. This is perhaps the most important part of writing a great pitch. 

Now, write your pitch. Forget the flowery “I’m the best in the world” stuff. Forget the long paragraph that explains how the planetary alignments, economy over the last 10 years and Oprah Winfrey have all come together to create this moment where your book, product or service is the cosmic lightning that will change the universe.  Make it to the point, short and as simple language as you can.

Here’s an actual pitch – this person had zero media interviews when we started working with him. The pitch was sent in response to news stories that were breaking at the time.

SUBJECT: Papal expert available to discuss Pope Francis and progressive reform

Dr. Charles J. Reid Jr., PhD, JD is now available to talk about the Synod Pope Francis has convened and some of the highly controversial topics being addressed. Dr. Reid is the ultimate Vatican insider with both the historic context and current knowledge to provide in-depth, fascinating commentary. He has contributed to stories on CNN, Al Jazeera America, the LA Times, and has been a source for countless other broadcast, online and print stories on Pope Francis, the Vatican and controversies surrounding the Catholic church. He is a popular religion blogger for the Huffington Post.

Dr. Reid can discuss:

  • Why Pope Francis is trying hard to shroud the Synod in a media blackout, and how right-wing grandstanding could affect the discussion
  • Whether Pope Francis will touch upon subjects  like birth control, women in the priesthood, gay rights or optional celibacy for clergy
  • What other steps beyond the current Synod Pope Francis may have planned to incite reform

Dr. Reid earned his JD and JCL (canon law) from the Catholic University of America and his PhD from Cornell. He is a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis and prior to this post, was a research associate in law and history at the Emory University School of Law. Follow these links to learn more about Charles, read his Huffington Post blog or see his recent media appearances.

Let me know if you’re interested in speaking with Dr. Reid. Thanks!

Seriously, there’s not much more to it than that. You can offer more background information, video clips, a book or project case study, but don’t send it with the first email, send them as links in the pitch.

Get the media’s attention by getting to the point and knowing what you want. Once you have their attention, you can hit them with both barrels!

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32 Comments

  1. daniel
    Posted on April 14, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Enjoyed reading this article (-:
    Read some of mine ^_^
    How to Start Investing in The Stock Market

  2. Rufus Dogg Says :
    Posted on April 14, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Owner???!!!??? Are you implying that I am OWNED by someone? He is merely my EDITOR, nothing more. And he needs to learn his place around here. The only reason I’m keeping him around is I have no thumbs and hitting that space bar is a heck of a task. 🙂

    Now I’ve got to write that book otherwise that pitch line will never be used. Seems a shame to waste it on some extremely attractive bitch (the dog kind, not the people kind) pitching FOX.

  3. bonnie Says :
    Posted on April 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Rufus, I’m awfully sorry of course he’s just an editor. but it does seem as though you need him for an awful lot. 🙂

  4. Softworld
    Posted on April 15, 2011 at 5:48 am

    Thank for the tips. Writing a excellent pitch is certainly not very difficult but you have to follow some basic steps.

  5. ???????? Says :
    Posted on April 17, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Very nice article! Bookmarked!

  6. Hostome
    Posted on April 18, 2011 at 12:31 am

    Interesting points to consider before “Writing a great pitch”. Excellent writing means it has an easy flow and rhythm when read aloud.

  7. Dr. Farley
    Posted on April 18, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Funny how sometimes we try to make something better by making it more complicated.

    Thanks for the reminder that this shouldn’t be the case.

  8. FinallyFast
    Posted on April 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Excellent tips. I used to work for a record label where I spent the grand majority of my time soliciting reviews for the various artists on the label.

    Over the course of my time there I learned that anything longer than a single paragraph very rarely got a reply. I’m just bummed I didn’t read this post back then! It would have saved me a lot of grief wondering why no body wanted to write a review about the label’s bands!

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on April 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      I think I wrote a bajillion super long incredibly brilliant pitches before I figured this out myself, so don’t feel bad. 🙂

  9. Lyndsay
    Posted on April 18, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    It’s worth remembering AIDA – Attention (grabbing it), Interest, Desire, and… Action – ask for what you want! Great article.

  10. Mia Says :
    Posted on April 19, 2011 at 3:43 am

    Some presentations are too long, and although they may contain a lot of interesting info, the purpose is to make a statement as clearly as possible. I think that this goes for every presentation, as well as PowerPoint presentations.

  11. Tina Bychkova
    Posted on April 20, 2011 at 9:43 am

    firstly, you should always set up clear goals for the pitch. it is never a single player game: the other person (the one you are addressing) should as well benefit from cooperation.

    and when you draw a simple line between action and benefits, chances are your pitch will be a success.

    • bonnie Says :
      Posted on April 21, 2011 at 8:18 am

      I like the idea of drawing a line between action and benefits. Will remember that one for sure!

  12. best animation software
    Posted on April 20, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Very good tips…I especially like what you said about leaving out the flowery stuff. Like you said people just don’t believe the hype. Thanks for the advice.

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  14. miami urology
    Posted on December 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    Hey Rufus,

    You are officially the coolest, most amazing dog on earth. 🙂 This is the first time I’ve seen a dog make a valuable opinion on marketing. Good take on writing pitches.

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  16. Sandra Says :
    Posted on March 15, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Thanks for the tips – everything seems so obvious, but while writing a pitch, we often neglect these simple but really important points.

  17. tall marketing
    Posted on March 15, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Nice article! I haven’t come across a “how to” for pitches before… very valuable info. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Fazer Facebook
    Posted on March 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Great article! I really liked the tips. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Alex Says :
    Posted on March 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

    This is so true and useful for entrepreneurs and marketeers. The thing I’ve found that helps the most is to almost “trick” the person you’re pitching to, to ask more about you. Intrigue them enough to let them do the work of convincing for you!

  20. Alexendria limo service
    Posted on March 20, 2012 at 5:02 am

    This is such a nice article that i really enjoyed going through.Nice tips and useful information.Thanks for sharing.

  21. Steve
    Posted on March 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Ramit Sethi from “I Will Teach You To Be Rich” has a similar take on this (although his is more geared towards networking and getting job prospects). He says to make the first email/note/call as brief and clear as possible.

    He also says that explaining similarities and not mentioning the request in the first email are crucial. People are much less likely to respond if its obvious that you just want something from them.

    I need to make sure to incorporate both of these ideas into my networking.

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  23. dog grooming tools
    Posted on March 23, 2012 at 5:31 am

    Some thing differ in your blog and that is i like most. I really enjoy. Nice work

  24. Nikolaj Bomann Says :
    Posted on March 28, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Awesome guideline to writing a pitch. Here in Denmark we have a lot of great books about piches, I’ve read, but I think this post sum-up the main points in a very good way.

    Thanks for shaing.

  25. Financial Planner Virginia
    Posted on April 6, 2012 at 12:14 am

    It’s really great stuff overall, I just wanted to say thank you.

  26. vaibhav Says :
    Posted on May 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Thanks for the tips – everything seems so obvious, but while writing a pitch, we often neglect these simple but really important points.

    great appreciation.

  27. vaibhav Says :
    Posted on May 27, 2012 at 2:49 am

    I haven’t come across a “how to” for pitches before… very valuable info. Thanks for sharing!

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  28. Sathish E Says :
    Posted on January 27, 2020 at 6:26 am

    Really interesting article
    really learnt something about how to write in pitch
    Thanks to the author

  29. Anna Says :
    Posted on March 4, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    Interesting post, Thanks for sharing.

  30. 4 Steps to writing a great pitch – Evolution in Marketing Perspective Says :
    Posted on June 22, 2020 at 6:49 am

    […] post 4 Steps to writing a great pitch appeared first on Wax […]

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