You’re eager to contribute a guest blog, land an interview with a trade publication, or speak at an upcoming event—so you hit send on a pitch you worked your butt off to put together, and wait, and then wait some more, and then nothing.
You follow up on the pitch and still nada.
Frustrating? Yes. Fixable? Also yes.
I’ve been on both sides of the pitching party, and I can tell you that there are a handful of mistakes I see (and used to make!) over and over again.
Wondering why your pitch got the silent treatment? Here are seven of the most common reasons.
1. Your Subject Line Sucked
Don’t spend three days carefully polishing your pitch, then only four seconds slapping on a subject line. The subject line is the first thing the recipient is going to see, so take your crafting it. Write it as if your pitch was the story and the subject was the headline. Make it punchy, unique, and to the point—like these!
2. You Wrote a Novel
There are few things more harrowing than scrolling through an email that just won’t end. I know you want to include as many amazing things about you, your company, and your product as possible in your pitch.
The purpose of your pitch is to get the person on the other end excited to learn more about whatever it is you’re pitching. If you make the pitch too long, you run the risk of losing him or her after sentence two.
3. You Wrote Two Sentences and Included Seven Links
You may assume that links to your published articles, personal website, reviews, and LinkedIn account will make it easier for the recipient to learn more about you. The thing is, you want to make it as easy as possible for the person on the other side of your pitch to say yes—and it becomes a lot harder if he or she has to click through to a bunch of websites to get a sense of your business and product.
Instead, highlight the three most relevant, compelling pieces of information you think will help you land the pitch, and leave it at that.
4. You Focused Too Much on the Benefits for You (or Your Client)
Whether you’re pitching journalists for an interview or event organizers for a speaking slot at an upcoming event, you want to explain how what you’re pitching benefits them.
You might emphasize, for example, that you’re able to offer the journalist an exclusive on the story, or the topic you’d like to speak about at the event isn’t being discussed at other industry events and you think would be a great draw for attendees.
If, on the other hand, you spend three paragraphs explaining how much the interview or speaking slot would benefit your company, your CEO’s credibility, or your own career, you’re getting deleted.
5. You Sent Your Pitch to Someone Who Doesn’t Care
If you work in communications and receive an email from a vendor that sells HR products, are you going to respond that email—or even open it? Probably not. If you’re feeling particularly nice, you might forward it on to your HR colleague, but most likely, you’ll assume it wasn’t meant for you, delete it, and get on with your day.
It’s not enough to send your pitch to a human rather than a generic email address (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org)—you need to send it to the right human.
You should be able to find most email addresses with a healthy Google session. If not, here’s my super stalking secret: See if the company has a standard email address format, like email@example.com. Then, plug in the recipient’s name. Voilà!
6. You Were Overly Formal
When you send excessively formal, trying-to-sound-professional emails, you tend to make people suspicious (who writes or talks like that in real life?), rather than intrigued.
Don’t worry about how formal or professional you sound. Concentrate on making the pitch clear and grammatically correct. Be polite. Address the pitch using the person’s name (rather than “ma’am” or “sir”). By doing that, the professionalism will come through naturally.
7. You Didn’t Nail That Whole “Timely” Thing
Obviously, you shouldn’t pitch yourself as a speaker for an event that starts in 48 hours, when the speakers were probably booked months ago. You also don’t want to pitch yourself for an event a year from now, when the event planners likely haven’t even confirmed a venue.
Same rule apply for the media: An email pitching an exclusive interview with a company spokesperson in 15 minutes is most likely going to be deleted—unless that spokesperson is super important or the company is in some serious trouble. And if you pitch a journalist in August about a product launch that isn’t happening until December? Also deleted.
Finding the best pitching window is very much dependent on your industry and the publication itself, so do your research. For example, the finance and media worlds move quickly enough that pitching a new product two days before you announce it might be fine, whereas education publications have their content finalized months in advance.
Best gut check? Imagine you’re on the other end of that pitch. After reading hundreds of pitch emails a day, would you be excited (and relieved) to read yours? Play around with it until you would be.