Learn How to Make The Perfect Pitch in 4 Steps
I receive dozens of email solicitations every day, from PR queries and
blog post pitches to product reviews and service ads. And while my time
is precious (and most of the pitches are off target), my role at The Mogul
Mom requires that I stay at the leading edge of business and motherhood
trends, continually source new and unique writing talent for guest posts,
and seek out promising opportunities and partnerships to pass on to
our readers. Which means I (or my team) go through them all the
pitches we receive. Yep, you heard me: ALL.
I give every email its due consideration of about a millisecond while my
cursor hovers uneasily between save and delete. And so must any agency,
organization or media outlet that fields talent and ideas. If you have
something to pitch–and I’m guessing all of you do–this is great
news. Because it means you have at least a shot at being seen and that your
chances for success have everything to do with factors that you control. The
key is to master the secrets of turning that millisecond audition
into a momentary pause, a click and a response.
Time and again I see the same fatal mistakes in the pitches I pass
over. Strange as it may seem it’s the deceptively banal details that actually
make me linger and respond. I share my secrets of editor intrigue in hopes
that you lovely, lion-hearted mogul moms will pitch perfect and do us all
The 4 Secrets to Being Pitch Perfect
1. It’s NOT About You
I cannot stress this point enough. It’s as true in courting editors as it is in
dating. Spend the whole evening talking about yourself, demonstrate little
interest or blatant misinformation about the other party and you’re not
likely to get called back for a second date. The same is true when pitching.
I would estimate that at least 75% of the emails I receive for The
Mogul Mom address me by first name–unfortunately it’s
usually the wrong one! Personally, I’m willing to overlook it–after
all, I’m relatively new here–but I know many other editors consider it a
deal breaker. I even have publicists with whom I’ve partnered in lengthy
projects, who still send pitches addressing me by the wrong name! Even
though these emails are likely auto-generated, it’s no excuse.
When in the unnerving position of being interviewed or scrutinized, most
of us tend to fall back onto self-promotion. We worry we may not be
considered or we may be misperceived, so we talk up our qualifications and
experience. This is almost always the wrong move. And possibly the reason
so many marketing campaigns fail. Instead, do your research. Ensure the
contact information you’re using is current. Show them you know who
If you’re pitch includes the sentiment that your idea/writing/product is
ideal for the recipient, make sure you demonstrate knowledgeability
about the recipient. Wow the editor with a thoughtful reflection about
their audience, their legacy or traditions, or a cutting edge direction for
their future. Once you do that, a simple “that’s where I come in” will suffice.
Chances are, you’ll get a bite.
2. Be Proper
I don’t mean to overwork the dating analogy, but in many ways, good
dating behavior is just good relating. What woman (even those of us who
are drawn to the ‘bad boys’ or fancy ourselves healthily liberated) isn’t
impressed when a date opens her car door? C’mon ladies, admit it! There’s
something to be said for propriety, manners and good ole’ fashioned
courtesy. Why? Because it makes us feel respected. And that’s something
What is respect in an email pitch? Simply put: spell-check. Along
with proper formatting, alignment, terms of address, and fully-spelled
words, it almost guarantees you a response in my world. Unfortunately, I
can’t respond only to respectable emails, because I receive so few of them.
Every time I do get one I’m tempted to turn it in to something, even if it’s
really off-target, just so I can savor for a little longer the joy that is reading
Maybe I’m old school. But it’s my opinion that we have plenty of outlets
for the short form, with its torturously abbreviated spellings and
fragmented ideas. And a pitch email is not one of them.
3. While Less Can Be More, Nothing Is Not More
Many current thought leaders in marketing, emphasize the importance
of the brief pitch. While I agree this can be a very effective measure, I
suspect it is in part responsible for the emails I receive every week, asking
permission to submit a guest post. This is problematic primarily because
our open call for guest posts is clearly stated on the site. These emails make
me feel like their senders aren’t paying attention and that they will go on
wasting my time if I let them, so they generally don’t garner a response.
Brevity in an email pitch is crucially important, because the people reading
them have a lot of volume to get through. However, brevity is not enough
on its own. Make sure you say something in your pitch, ideally
the exact something that the recipient requested (if it’s an open call) or a
valuable nugget of an idea, with a clearly stated proposal of what you’re
offering. Someone who includes specific information about her proposal in
her email is more likely to be chosen than someone who merely hints at an
idea that involves more email exchange to develop.
4. Be Generous
I was in an establishment in New Orleans recently, and posted by the front
door was a “barred list,” featuring names like “Crazy Jimmy” and “Patrick
the tarot card reader.” I thought it was so funny I took a picture. If we had
a “barred list” at The Mogul Mom, it would feature nicknames like “More
Please girl” or “I Need It Published Sooner guy,” and sadly, it would be
Here’s the thing. If you are so lucky as to have your pitch picked
up, the best thing you can do is to make a big show of gratitude
and generosity. As an editor, I put a lot of time and energy into selecting,
revising, polishing and re-revising our blog posts so that they bring
maximum value to our readers and maximum reach for our guest bloggers.
Hours are dedicated to planning and scheduling of the editorial calendar,
which is to say nothing of the actual editing time. And we’re still a pretty
small shop! Imagine the demands on the time of the people you’re pitching,
many of whom work under extreme pressure.
It’s not to say you don’t put a lot of work into what you’re pitching (you do)
and that the person you’re pitching doesn’t stand to gain by what you’re
offering (she does), but agents and editors are people too. Being gracious
goes a long way. If you’re a writer and someone has agreed to publish your
work, follow up with a note of thanks and a question of what you
can do to make their lives easier.
Resist the urge to make your first email after being picked up, a request that
the editor do more for you or make the run date earlier or in some other
way bend or break the rules. It makes people feel unappreciated, and might
land you on a barred list.
Now it’s time to get out there and pitch perfect. I know you can do it!
I would love to hear your “pitching stories!” Whether you
were pitcher or receiver, tell us in the comments about your tips, triumphs
and tales of woe.
Megan Barnes is the owner of The Mogul Mom
and an aspiring creative writer. She currently lives in Jackson, MS
with her husband Terrence and two adorable dogs, Gus & Fergi. She
is passionate about inspiring and empowering women to fulfill their
visions as moms, entrepreneurs, and vibrant healthy women. Learn