10
19
Lindsay Bell

The Cold Pitch and How to Nail One

By: Lindsay Bell | November 14, 2013 | 
60

pitch

By Lindsay Bell

In the last year and a half of being the boss-lady of this blog (I mean, second to Gini Dietrich, of course), I’ve learned a ton.

I’ve learned about SEO and programming. I’ve learned about planning and patience (lots of patience!). And I’ve learned a thing or two about following my gut.

I’ve always been a big ‘gut-follower.’ Whether people, possibilities, or a pitch – I hold my gut in great respect. It rarely lets me down.

But one place where the ol’ gut has really helped me out during my tenure here has been dealing with the extraordinary number of pitches a blog of Spin Sucks’ caliber receives daily.

I’ve met some wonderful people, given some young folk just starting out advice on how to grow and what they need to do to build out their writing resumes, and I’ve waded through piles and piles of absolutely terrible attempts to woo.

The Pitch: Woo’ing for One

Gini’s written before about how to best pitch. And woo’ing is great. But there’s woo’ing by casting a really huge net in hopes of snagging one of the many gals at the party. Any one. You don’t really care which one, if you’re being honest.

And then there’s woo’ing to lure in that “special ONE.” You know what I’m talking about.

The more I thought about ‘the pitch’ – the more I realized that it transcends just its obvious dictionary definition. Learning to pitch like a pro will serve you in MANY areas of your life.

From the aforementioned ‘pull at a party,’ to being able to craft a stunning job application cover letter, reaching out for networking opportunities, or writing a heartfelt thank you note.

Admittedly, a dying art.

One Example of a Killer Pitch

I received a killer pitch a few weeks ago. It was a straight out ‘cold pitch’ as I like to call them. This person wasn’t yet a member of ‘the crazies,’ and hadn’t guest blogged with us before, BUT, she knew and loved the blog, understood instinctively what we stand for, and impressed the heck out of me with her email – to the point that I asked her if I could use it as an example in this blog post.

She readily agreed. So here it is:

Hi Lindsay!

Oh! Not only did she use my name – she spelled it correctly!

I’m a big fan of the Spin Sucks blog, and I’d like to start doing some guest blogging of my own.

My Pitch:

I would like to create a piece on ways to stay sane while working remote/in a virtual office. I read a post Gini did awhile back on the benefits she experienced when moving to a virtual office, so I’m sure you’re all aware of the flipside and some of the pain points of working remote as well. As more and more people are moving to jobs that allow them to work from anywhere, I would bet a lot of your readers are experiencing similar issues that I hope I can help address.

She delivers a solid idea, well thought-out, and references one of Gini’s past blog posts. This shows she’s done her research, and is the type of thinker who says ‘Hey, how can I add to this conversation, without repeating what’s already been said’. 

About Me:

I’m the director of marketing for a software company that makes web-based communication and scheduling tools primarily for the restaurant/hospitality industry. However we actually use our own software to communicate because we all work remote. I’ve been in digital marketing for 10 years now, and am an active member in the Detroit tech community. I also run a blog/website/community DrinkMichigan.org that promotes Michigan wine, beer, and spirits.

BOOM! She sells herself to me, without selling. By describing who she is, what she does, and who she does it for, and sharing a bit of her background, naturally and in a relaxed, ‘get to know me’ conversational style, she a) preemptively answers all my possible questions and b) illustrates convincingly that she’s smart, savvy, and not just looking for a back link opportunity. Exactly the type of people we love to have here on Spin Sucks. 

I’m Social:

Twitter – @techsocialite @drinkmichigan @shiftnote

Blog – http://www.shiftnote.com/blog http://www.drinkmichigan.org

She’s social! See above. 

Please let me know what else you need from me. Thanks and have a great rest of your day!

And – the end. She wraps it up in a friendly “no expectations” way. I immediately want to have dinner with this gal. 

Audrey Walker nailed her pitch in a few easy steps:

  • She made it personal.
  • She made it ‘about us’ – this is clearly NOT an “insert blog name” here ‘cast the net’ pitch to many blogs.
  • She had her facts right.
  • She did her homework before pitching.
  • And she sent a well thought out idea for a topic.

Gut aside, I did what I always do, and checked out her credentials. And she passed (you’ll be seeing here here soon!), but she was already halfway there with this well crafted email.

So, take a bit of this advice to heart the next time you are pitching a story idea, an idea to your boss, or just writing an important letter or email.

Make it personal. Take the extra steps and do a little research. And please, in the name of all that is holy, make sure you have the correct person’s name – and it’s spelled right!

About Lindsay Bell


Lindsay Bell is the content director at Arment Dietrich, and works in Toronto. A former TV producer, she’s a strong advocate of three minutes or less of video content. She has a cool kid, a patient husband, two annoying cats, and Hank Dawge, a Vizsla/Foxhound/moose hybrid. Ok, maybe not moose.

58 comments
LauraPetrolino
LauraPetrolino

This is great! When I rule the world I'm going to require stuff like this to be required material in every freshman orientation class, because you are right, learning how to cold pitch well is a must have skill in every area of life! 


bdorman264
bdorman264

What happened to my e-mail? I didn't even get a response; it must have been pretty bad, huh? 

I actually got invited to GP at a couple of well known places, including here and it was a little intimidating; I was never secure enough to pro-actively seek proper placement. But even w/ my little invisible blog I did get some pitches (none were high and tight) and some were good and some not so good. At a popular site like this I can only imagine who makes the cut and trying to be somewhat tactful in how you respond, huh? 

Good advice for potential GPers. 

HughAnderson
HughAnderson

Advocating "cold pitching" on Spin Sucks. Now I've seen it all :)

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Geez everyone knows Vermont is the beer state so Michigan you go find another niche like iced tea ;-)

This is great @belllindsay I can just imagine how many pitches you get. Most people think of what is in it for them vs knowing if they have nothing of value for the blog

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

Great stuff Miz Bell...... On. The. Money. 

Might I add, it's all about a conversation. If it doesn't feel like a conversation, you're doing it wrong. Ok, guest post coming up on that in 3, 2, 1...

kadeeirene
kadeeirene

Hi Lindsay, this was a great post and I'm glad you shared Audrey's email. It's always nice to see actual examples of a pitch that has worked, rather than just tips and tricks you can do. 

I'm interested to know, what was in her email subject line? Those examples always help me as well and certainly something that shouldn't be overlooked. 

Thanks!

Suze Carragher
Suze Carragher

Thanks for this, Lindsay! Even those of us who've been doing this for a while need reminders of how it's done.

aimeelwest
aimeelwest

What a great pitch that didn't give you the feel of a pitch. I love that your name was spelled correct too! (I have that problem all the time)

Drink Michigan is a fabulous site to follow on any platform. Way to go @techsocialite 

stevesonn
stevesonn

This is a good example of an effective pitch. It's nice to see one that's been well thought out vs. all the examples of horrible pitches that surface. I like the fact that the post would fit in this community and it's an interesting topic. Audrey obviously did her homework before approaching you and that's half the battle! 

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

Wow - it's like the perfect pitch!! Who wouldn't love this pitch?! 

And it's so simple - agree with Rob this is an excellent template to use. Love the personalization, no expectations, and a bit of humor. It takes a little bit of research and effort to be successful instead of blasting everyone the same exact pitch. Very well done @techsocialite!!

ClayMorgan
ClayMorgan

@belllindsay The name thing was always a biggie for me.  There were always people using my predecessor's name, but the best was from what were clearly automated emails. See, the name of our paper was Daily News Journal, and I'd honestly get pitches that started, "Dear Daily."

Ugh!


Latest blog post: Livefyre Conversation

RobBiesenbach
RobBiesenbach

This is also an excellent template for any communication where you're asking someone for something. A job interview, a meeting, a connection. Personalize it, show that you've done your homework on your "target," demonstrate how you/your idea will benefit them (versus making it all about you), show how your background/interests sync with theirs.

lauraclick
lauraclick

Yes, yes and yes!!!! Any blogger would LOVE to get a pitch like this. If people only knew how just a little effort could go a long way when pitching, they would have a lot more success. Well done, Audrey! 

Matt_Cerms
Matt_Cerms

@belllindsay Loving this post. Totally personal, simple, and conversational! It was also a very much "here's the deal" kind of tone from Audrey -- no touting and no sucking up. 

martinwaxman
martinwaxman

Great points, @belllindsay. And what a terrific pitch. You know what I did before writing this comment? I checked out @techsocialite's Twitter feed and followed her. I figure she'll have lots more insights to share.

Timing's everything... And speaking of that, we had a blogger panel in the Digital Strategy classes @EdenSpodek and I teach after a lecture on how to build strong online relationships. We provided a lot of examples of bad pitches people have used - those are so easy to find. And now we have an example of a good one I hope we can share next time!

Thanks!


corinamanea
corinamanea

Great read Lindsay and great pitch Audrey! It´s nice to see good examples on how to...., not only the bad ones (which can be found everywhere on the web). Just like you said Lindsay "make it personal", I think you just have to care about the one/ones you pitch. If you care, you put your heart in it.

rosemaryoneill
rosemaryoneill

That is so impressive I want to steal her for a guest post on a blog I'm helping out with...cough cough...Audrey give me a holler please....  Here's what I receive about 10 of, on a daily basis:

"Dear webmaster, I noticed your blog on the webs and give SEO great attention to which I would like to bring you post of goodness. I require one dofollow link. Tell me when I can expect to find this published."

I wish I were kidding.

Word Ninja
Word Ninja

Ha, I remember trying to make sure I spelled your name right when I pitched to you. But it's a great point you make. Looking forward to Audrey's post!

belllindsay
belllindsay

@ClayMorgan I agree Clive. The name thing is so important! I'm not Spin Sucks, I'm not Administrator, and I'm NOT GINI!

belllindsay
belllindsay

@RobBiesenbach That's what I thought also Rob. It works in so many areas - people think that "letter writing" is dead - but it's not - it's just now done via email, or in other online ways (think LinkedIn invites!). 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@lauraclick It's incredible how happy and excited you can get over a great pitch, right Laura! LOL 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@Matt_Cerms Thanks Matt! Nothing makes my day better than a great pitch, except maybe positive feedback! :)

belllindsay
belllindsay

@martinwaxman @techsocialite @EdenSpodek It's funny Martin - some of us *koff* *me* are so quick to focus on the negative stuff - because hey, that's because it's usually funny (bad funny), and we usually need to vent in some way to ease the frustration that comes along with lots of bad. But there IS good out there! And I'm happy to share it, and happy that @techsocialite allowed me to share her pitch with everyone. Please use! I would love everyone on the planet to know how to write a great pitch. :D 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@@corinamanea Abso-frikken-lutely!! And it doesn't have to be "send in the dancing clowns" either!! It's simple, but powerful stuff - *touch* someone in some way - and you'll stand out from the crowd. 

techsocialite
techsocialite

@@corinamanea Thanks Corina! They say "Do what you love and the rest will come." That's kind of how I like to live my life :o)

belllindsay
belllindsay

@rosemaryoneill Omigod. "Tell me when I can expect to find this published" - I get that ALL THE TIME! Guess what? *Delete*. :) 

belllindsay
belllindsay

@Word Ninja You know, it's such a small thing, but it REALLY makes a huge impact. Spelling aside, the number of pitches I get addressed to Gini??? When the email address is clearly me. It's just weird. 

Word Ninja
Word Ninja

@belllindsay It does make a difference...shows someone cares about the details and respects people, at least on some level. 

Trackbacks

  1. […] does a nice job of describing a “killer pitch” and what made it that way in a post titled “The keys to nailing a cold pitch.” I highly recommend you take a few minutes to read […]

  2. […] Pitching a story seemed smarmy and full of wretched commerce, even for a business reporter who’d come up from the trades. […]