Picture this: You’re an editor at a well-known and well-respected publication — let’s say Fast Company. You open your laptop to start your day, take a deep breath, and navigate to your inbox. You see hundreds of emails staring back at you from people who want to contribute to your publication.
Sounds stressful, right?
Publication editors receive so many content pitches that if they don’t recognize your name and if you don’t use a catchy subject line, your email might not be opened at all.
That’s why we’re going to discuss how to write a pitch email that actually gets a response and forges a relationship with the editor. Let’s dive in!
When you’re pitching guest-contributed content to external publications, make sure your pitch email has these five components:
If your subject line is snooze-inducing rather than attention-grabbing, the editor is not going to open your pitch email. Depending on the type of content you’re pitching, you can make your subject line more engaging by creating a sense of urgency, piquing curiosity, including important names, or incorporating emojis. Just make sure the subject line makes it clear what the editor will be getting on the other side of the click.
CoSchedule has an email subject line tester that you can use make sure your subject lines are effective.
Need some inspiration? Check out the subject lines of your favorite newsletters. Are you clicking for fear of missing out? Are you curious about the answer to a question? What makes you take the next step of opening the email and reading?
Once the editor actually opens your pitch email, you need to make it readily apparent why readers would care about your guest post right now. What will be the impact of the story?
When you’re considering whether your content is newsworthy, start by determining whether it contains any of the seven main news values:
If your topic appears to be newsworthy based on the main news values, take the next step to determine how your angle is newsworthy. In most cases, content marketing takes a different approach from more traditional news. Most likely, the publication you’re reaching out to has staff writers or reporters who jump on the 24/7 news cycle and keep the site filled with breaking news and updates.
So consider what makes your article supplementary to that other content. What can you bring to the conversation that no one else can? In your pitch email, show that you’re aware of what’s already been published — potentially linking to another article on the site — and explain how your article can build on existing content and advance the conversation.
The editor is relying on you to let him or her know why your article should be published above the rest. What expertise are you bringing to the table that no one else can?
For example, in a recent Bloomberg article, Laura Morgan Roberts gave this description at the beginning of her article explaining why she is the person who should speak on the topic:
I have been studying race in the workplace for 25 years, closely examining the experiences of Black workers. I recently published “Race, Work, and Leadership,” an edited volume authored by over 50 leading thinkers. Every step of the way, I’ve been asked to make the business case for diversity — to justify why it is important to increase racial diversity, equity, and inclusion by advancing Black leaders at work.
Years of experience in your industry, authoring a book, specific roles you’ve played, and more can be used to showcase your expertise and convince the editor that your content would provide immense value to the audience.
When you’re thinking through why the publication’s audience will care about a particular topic, make sure you understand who is represented within that audience. An article speaking to startup founders wouldn’t do well in a publication that speaks to enterprise CEOs, for example.
Don’t give the editor any homework. In your pitch email, clearly — and succinctly — explain what your proposed article is about and why it’s a great fit for the publication. Make it easy for the editor to say “yes.”
Most publications have media kits or guest contributor pages that contain information about the site’s audience. Some publications require you to download the media kit in exchange for your email address, but that’s well worth it if the media kit helps you write a winning pitch email and a truly valuable piece of content.
Before you sign off, make it clear what you want the editor to do with your pitch email. Publish an article? Give you thoughts on the topic? Give you the OK to move forward with writing?
Leave out phrases that provide an easy out, like “Don’t worry if you’re busy.” You already know the editor is busy, so help him or her make a quick decision! Try something like “Is this content compelling enough to publish?” or “I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback!” or “I’ll follow up in three days.”
Guest-contributed content is a solid strategy that can help you work toward your content marketing goals. But if the editor never opens your pitch email, seeing those results will be impossible. So take this advice to heart to write truly engaging emails that motivate editors to click that “reply” button.