5 Best Practices for Writing Successful Article Pitches
5 Best Practices for Writing Successful Article Pitches
Danny Shepherd, CO-CEO • Intero Digital • January 28, 2022
Picture this: You’re an editor at a famous and respected publication — let’s say, Forbes. You open your laptop to start your workday, take a deep breath, and head to your inbox. You’re greeted by an avalanche of emails from people who want to contribute to your publication.
Sounds stressful, right?
Publication editors receive so many pitch emails that if they don’t know your name and you don’t include a memorable subject line, they might not open your email at all.
That’s why we’ll discuss how to write a good pitch email that gets a response and builds a relationship with the editor.
5 Email Pitch Best Practices
Before building relationships with editors at your favorite publications, you must learn how to pitch your content to them. Learn 5 best practices of an effective email pitch:
1. Include a descriptive subject line.
The editor will not open your pitch email if your subject line is snooze-worthy rather than attention-grabbing. You can create a more enticing subject line by giving it a sense of urgency, piquing curiosity, including big names, or incorporating emojis. Ensure the subject line clarifies what the editor will get in return.
CoSchedule offers an email subject line tester that you can utilize to ensure your subject lines are compelling.
Need some inspiration? Check out the subject lines of your top newsletters. Are you clicking because they’ve instilled FOMO? Are you wondering about the answer to a question they posed? What makes you put in the effort to open and read the email? Use those insights as inspiration for your email pitch subject lines.
2. Write from a newsworthy or timely angle.
Once the editor opens your email, you must make it obvious why the publication’s readers would find your guest post relevant.
According to Jim Davis, editor of HR Daily Advisor, “By the time we get article offers on a hot topic, we have already known about that topic and published articles on it.”
To ensure your content idea is noteworthy, start by deciding whether it has any of these seven values:
If your topic seems interesting based on the characteristics mentioned above, take the next step to pinpoint how your angle is newsworthy. Content marketing takes a markedly different approach from traditional media in most situations. Most likely, the publication you’re trying to connect to has staff writers or reporters who are constantly updated on the latest news cycle and keep the website filled with the latest breaking news.
So consider what makes your article complementary to that related content. What can you contribute to the conversation that no other person can? In your pitch, show that you have expert knowledge, especially on the topics that have already been published — potentially linking to an article on the site — and describe how your article can build on current content and elevate the conversation.
3. Determine what sets you and your content apart.
The editor relies on you to tell them why your article should be published instead of the ones that are being pitched by others. What expertise are you putting forward that no other person can?
For example, in a Bloomberg article, Laura Morgan Roberts gave this account in the introduction of her article, explaining why she is the right person who should cover the subject matter:
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.
Years of experience in your specific industry, authoring a book, notable roles you’ve played, and more — these can be used to highlight your knowledge and persuade the editor that your piece would provide immense value to the audience.
4. Establish why your content is fit for the publication.
When thinking about why the publication’s audience cares about a particular topic, ensure you understand who is represented within that audience. For example, an article covering startup founders wouldn’t do well in a publication with an audience of enterprise CEOs.
Don’t give the editor any homework. In your pitch email, clearly — and briefly — explain your proposed article and why it’s an excellent fit for the publication. Make it easier for the editor to say “yes” to your pitch.
Most publications have guest contributor pages or media kits containing all the information about the site’s audience. Some publications require you to exchange your email address to download the media kit, but that’s well worth it if it helps you craft a winning pitch email.
5. End on a clear call to action.
Before you sign off, clarify what you want the editor to do with your pitch. Do you want them to publish an article, give their thoughts on the topic, or give you the OK to continue writing?
Leave out phrases that could give them an easy out, like “You don’t have to reply if you’re busy.” Obviously, the editor is very busy, so help them by making the decision a lot easier! Try something like “Is this content engaging enough to publish on your site?” or “I’m looking forward to your feedback on my submission!” or “I’ll follow up in three days.”
How to Pitch a Story to Editors: The Wrong Way
Every editorial relationship has to be built from the ground up. Below is an example of an email pitch that would fail to create a mutually beneficial relationship with an editor of a publication:
Subject Line: Article
I have attached an article pitch for you to consider publishing on your site. Please respond before 5 p.m. tomorrow. My article is attached.
Now, what’s wrong with this email?
- The subject line isn’t enticing. As mentioned before, publication editors receive hundreds of pitches daily. A subject line like this doesn’t incentivize an editor to open the email, let alone motivate them to accept your pitch for a guest-contributed article.
- The introduction is impersonal. When you research a publication, strive to find the name of the relevant editor to whom you’re pitching your content. Then, when you find it, use it. It is impolite not to include the editor’s name, and it signals that you could’ve indiscriminately sent this email to other publications or editors, too.
- The body of the email is vague. Suppose you don’t offer any summary of the article. In that case, the editor has no way of swiftly evaluating whether this content will resonate with their audience and be a good fit for the publication. In that case, they’ll move on to the next email pitch in their inbox to find someone who managed to provide more helpful, compelling information.
- The deadline is unreasonable (and disrespectful). Requesting a review right away is impolite because it suggests that you strongly believe this article is more relevant than the editor currently does. And it shows disregard for the editor’s time and busy schedule.
How to Pitch a Story to Editors: The Right Way
Below is an example of an email pitch that would show an editor that you’re a respectful, thoughtful, and well-informed contributor:
Subject: Exclusive contributed article: How to pitch content to publication editors
I hope you’ve had a great Monday! My name is Becky, and I’m the director of branding and content at Intero Digital. I’ve written a non-promotional, exclusive article for your publication.
In my article, I offer guidance to marketers and thought leaders about how they can connect with publication editors to get their content published online. I’ve included actionable suggestions about how to write an email pitch that actually gets the busy editor to open it. I’ve also included examples of both good and bad pitch emails.
This article would be an excellent fit for your site. It helps advance the conversation outlined in another article published a few months back, and it will give your readers more well-rounded knowledge concerning this topic.
My article is attached for you to review, along with my headshot and bio. Feel free to make any editorial revisions that you see fit, or you can reply to this email if you need anything else from me. I understand you’re busy, so I’ll reconnect with you on Monday if I don’t receive any updates by then.
I’m looking forward to hearing back from you!
Guest-contributed content is an excellent strategy to help you work toward your content marketing goals. But seeing those results will be impossible if the editor never opens your pitch email. So make sure to take this advice if you want to create genuinely engaging emails that move editors to hit that “reply” button.