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If you ask an editor the real reason why they’re not responding to your pitch, they’ll usually say it’s because they’re just really busy, you’re not a good fit right now, for whatever reason, nothing personal, but they honestly don’t have the time to write you back and tell you that.
And that’s true. It’s not personal. And they don’t have time. They’re trying to have lives too, while trying to balance work and their passions and making money and taking care of themselves. They’re trying to do it all, keep up with it all, too.
In fact, they’re really quite similar to you. Just another person trying to share their creative talents in a way that they can make a living from.
But so often, when we write a pitch, we are writing to this SOMETHING, rather than someone.
We write to “the BLOG”, “the MAGAZINE”, and the blank void whoever that’s behind it. We write to an editor persona that we already think is, by definition- judgmental, critiquing, discerning (it’s like, in their job description.) Can we say, intimidating?
Especially the ones you admire, the blogs you REALLLLLY want to see your brand on, the magazines you look forward to every month that you so so SO want to see your designs in. Those places seem too BIG, too LOFTY, too PERFECT, too IMPOSSIBLE. They’re the peaks you hope to reach later, someday, as right now you’re struggling to climb up the mountain.
But those peaks can be reached by anyone. By YOU, right now, if you have something awesome to share that connects with the someone awesome on the other end of that blog or magazine.
That’s all there is to getting media exposure, when you really boil it down.
So, the bridge between you and that tippy top of the mountain is simply, your pitch.
It’s the first point of communication between you and an editor. It’s the handshake. The introduction. The blushing, eye contact, awkward conversation fillers.
Pitches are the first impression you’re making on editors, and way too often, they’re lacking any efforts of making a connection at all.
They’re cold, bland, expected. Yaaaawning.
They’re unfocused, indirect. Avoiding eye contact.
And way too many pitches are just like the guy at the party that you’re introduced to and he starts to tell you allll about his life and what he does and goes on and on about himself for the next 5 minutes straight, without asking you ONE question, or showing ANY interest in you, like, at all. And you feel like he could be talking to anybody right now cause he’s just talking AT you, not with you.
And you make an excuse that you have to pee just to get away from him, but you really just go stand next to the snack table and eat some cheese, because who wants to stand next to that guy? NOBODY.
It’s because those kind of approaches make you feel ICKY, whether they’re in person, or coming through the computer screen.
And therein lies the real, mostly subconscious, reason why editors aren’t responding to your pitch…because it made them feel icky. In some way.
Last week, I went to an “Urban Campfire“, a night for entrepreneurial women to come together to share stories, not about business, but about life, over dinner and drinks. There were five awesome speakers (my friend Jen being one of them) who told personal stories around the theme, “Rising From the Ashes.”
They opened up about relationship struggles, about recreating old patterns, ignoring their inner voices, about unbearable abuse and pain, including a woman whose baby and husband both died, about traumatic health scares and so many BIG SCARY things. The common thread through each story though, was that they all got through it: lessons learned, insight gained, perspectives shifted.
And their stories, as painful and hard to live through as they must have been, all led to these women, standing strong and brave before our eyes, baring themselves, inspiring and connecting us.
When it was dinner and dessert time, around our individual tables we were asked to answer some questions with one another. First up…
“What’s your biggest failure, and what did it lead to?”
I heard women from 30-something to 60-something opening up about their failed marriages, about having to declare bankruptcy (3 of them had!), of being misunderstood and not accepted by family, of health issues, of wanting to be better mothers- more BIG stuff.
So when it came time for me to share, the spiel I had been rehearsing in my head about how “well, I don’t really believe in failure, but if I did, I guess I’d say that my biggest failure is not being able to fully show my true self, come out of my shell, and these are the ways I’m working on it…” fell away, and instead, my mouth just spilled open…
I, for one, am ready to leave a few things behind in 2013: my fear of judgement. Perfectionism. My inhibitions. My fear of showing my whole self, even the parts that might be misunderstood.
I’m realizing that subconsciously, eventho I may try to be all “fuck what other people think” on the outside, other people’s opinions really matter to me. I think that’s part of what makes me empathetic and kind, which I don’t want to change, of course. But I’m seeing differently how worrying about what other people might think has held me back in small and large ways in my life. I don’t want to disappoint, let anyone down, create conflict.
So instead, I tend to keep a lot of bits of myself, to myself. There is so much within me that feels too sacred, too precious to let out into the big, bad world of harsh criticism. I’m protective of myself. I cling to the walls of my safe shell, letting only a few select visitors deep into its cavernous spirals, the center of which, only I really know.
Since the new year dawned though, I’ve been feeling an urge, a rushing wave coming through me, beckoning me to let some of that protection fade away and trust myself that I’ll be able to handle whatever happens outside of that shell. That the fear itself is scarier than what will actually meet me out in the world.
Now that you know how to write a pitch an editor will love, from subject line to closing, you’re ready to start emailing your little bootie off!
Before you hit send, here are some quick reminders to help you make sure your pitch stands out as a GEM in that busy editor’s inbox, and has even more of a chance of getting read, responded to and featured!
BEFORE you hit send:
1. Start at the places where you already have contacts/relationships, or at your dreamiest dream spots to be featured (aim high!) and then work your way on down the list- you want to give the best matches the chance for a super fresh feature!
2. Do your research prior to pitching. Check out their about page, submission guidelines, go thru the archives of your product categories and see what sort of things they’ve featured in the past. The better you can get a sense of their specific taste, personality and items they might be drawn to, the better you’ll be able to write a pitch that interests them!
3. Write the kind of pitch that you would like to receive. Keep the editor’s perspective in mind and write to them like a fellow human being. Be specific about why you think your shop/brand might interest them, or what features or columns you think it could fit into based on what you know about their specific taste/interests already (from all the research you did above.) The pitch is about what you can offer them, not the other way around.
4. Keep it friendly, personal, succinct. Don’t worry about being “professional” or send them a formal press release- they go largely ignored. Just write a simple email that sounds like yourself.
5. Keep it focused to one “call to action”, so to speak. Don’t ask about getting featured and for their advertising rates in the same breath- have ONE set focus for each email and you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll respond.