Pitching guest blogs and content to influential organisations and publications, is a highly effective way of creating links to your website. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, this is a highly integral part of SEO.
But pitching a blog or an idea is a skill in itself. How do you get other websites, that you may not have had previous contact with, to publish your content?
I spoke to a friend and colleague David Butcher, who has worked in the communications industry, for giants of the financial services sector, for decades (which you wouldn’t know from his fresh face!), on the art of pitching.
This is what he had to say:
Pitching a blog or an idea isn’t like being in front of TV’s dragons
There’s no binary success or failure.
It’s better to see it as an incremental process of getting someone comfortable with your point of view or a new piece of information. Not everyone makes their mind up in an instant.
In fact, when you think about it, persuasion is something everyone has to do almost every day of their lives.
So, this is what I’ve learned over some 22 years of pitching stories and ideas to journalists, social media influencers, clients, prospects, bosses, colleagues, partners and – yes – my kids.
Be concise with your pitch
It helps to condense your idea into an elevator pitch – a few short sentences – or even a memorable phrase. It can be hard work to shorten a no-doubt detailed, technical or lengthy idea – and some people find it easier than others.
The trick is to work out what the benefit is to the recipient, and state it with conviction. Hopefully this should also be thing that benefits you. If it isn’t, and there are two separate things here, try and draw a line between them and make that the main part of your pitch, emphasising how the recipient benefits.
A lot of sales theories talk of the elevator pitch having specific components, such as a “problem + solution + call-to-action” flow.
That’s fine. I just prefer to make mine about what’s important to the other person. They don’t really need to know about how I get to win. As the great Stephen Covey said, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
If your client or journalist or partner likes the idea then you need to offer more detail.
A trusted friend often tells me the two most powerful words in communications are “for example”. And you can’t pitch an idea without something tangible, something real.
So, I usually use examples that demonstrate my knowledge or allow me to name drop – I feel comfortable doing this because it evidences my credibility, and I’ve already made the opening lines about the person I’m talking to.
It’s quite natural to then move the flow back to the recipient: “and that’s why this is really important. But what’s your take?”
Throwing the pitch to its recipient is vital. Otherwise they’re just getting another breathless, verbal blast in a probably information-rich day. Most people I know like to be asked their view – even if they don’t actually have one – rather than just talked at.
This gives you quick feedback. If it’s positive, then the recipient is already starting to develop affinity or ownership of the idea. If it’s not positive, then you get to address it head on and refine your pitch for the next person.
That feedback loop is vital – because without it you have no idea about what people want, and no idea about how to make the pitch about how the recipient benefits.
This blog takes over 500 words to say, “be concise”. Ironic, isn’t it? But here are two more: be helpful.
Director and founder, Communications and Content