Pitching is like match point. After putting a lot of thought, time and passion into writing an article, it would be a shame not to get published.
Too often I find myself not really investing time and consideration into my pitch, partly because I simply wasn’t sure how to write that type of email. I can play a whole game, but I always fall down at match point.
So I reached out to Chris from Adoptanegotiator and got some simple advice that dramatically improved my success.
1. 30 seconds to impress!
An editor will spend only 30 seconds reading your email, this is the time you have to convince him. So make sure that within 30 seconds; you and your article sound interesting. Use about 200 words in total.
2. Be specific!
Telling an editor that your article is about climate change or climate refugees is good, but it won’t draw a lot of interest. Be as specific as possible, and tell straight to the point what the special aspects of your article are and why it is important and newsworthy (because of a new significant quote of a politican on your topic etc.).
3. Say why your article will be read
Try also to think about the readership – because the editor will. Why is your article one that is interesting for the readers? If it’s a local newspaper, tell them how this your links a topic to the city where the paper is read for example.
4. Say why your article is unique!
Editors receive countless emails, especially on popular topics. So make it clear why your article stands out – does it cover a new perspective, takes new aspects into account? Whatever makes your article unique.
You might also refer to other articles in the paper and point out what your article covers that hasn’t been covered so far.
5. Include the word count
It’s important information for editors and easy to include – so just do it 🙂
6. Add your sources
Underline the journalistic quality of your article by pointing out the sources you used (a new study, quotes from an expert or politician – whatever you used). If possible, add a hyperlink to the study, statistics or the person you interviewed. That way they know you’re for real.
7. Make it exclusive!
Tell the editor that you are going to offer your article exclusively, but also ask kindly for an answer if they will publish it. The fact that the article won’t be published in another newspaper might be very important for the editor. But on the same token, if it’s not going to be exclusive, leave it out.
8. Sell youself!
It’s not only your article you sell. Show that you are a competent and skilled writer who merits getting published in the paper. Write 2-3 sentences short bio which might include:
- our academic background (if it fits to the topic),
- that you have written for other newspapers (including hyperlinks to one or two articles),
- your background as an activist (if it fits to the paper),
- anything that shows that you are person who as something to say about the topic of your article.
Don’t be shy, particularly in your first email to an editor! But remember, you only have 30 seconds, so be sure to keep this to 1 sentence max!
Since examples always help, here is one of the first pitching emails I wrote (well yes, it’s very bad) and of course I got respectfully ignored:
Dear Sir or Madam,
Please find attached an article on the G7 summit in Dresden which also puts it in the context of general German foreign climate policy regarding COP21 in Paris. It further analyses how climate finance offers new perspective for Germany foreign policy in general.
I am a student from Dresden,
Looking forward to hearing back from you.
What do you think?
Dear Sir or Madam
My name is Andreas Sieber and I have attached a 450-wordarticle on the G7 summit in Dresden highlighting the importance of climate finance as a key element of Chancelor Merkel’s international climate policy.
I study media-research and political science at Dresden University; and have recently been named by The Guardian as one of the top 12 young climate bloggers in the lead up to the UN climate negotiations in Paris.
The article builds on yesterday’s significant statements by the German financial minister, Wolfgang Schäuble and links the importance of climate finance to the city of Dresden as a symbol reconstruction and resurrection.
It includes besides the quotes from Wolfgang Schäuble a statement from Jan Kowalzki, climate finance expert at Oxfam Germany.
I would like to offer this piece exclusively to (name of paper) but would appreciate if you could respond within the next 8 hours and let me know if you would like to publish it or not, as there may be other publications also interested in this perspective.
Looking forward to hearing back from you.
It might not be possible to adapt all these things in every email, but try it out. You can also use this list as a checklist for your articles, to make sure they contain what an editor wants to publish.