Psssttt. I have a secret. Editors and writers are constantly on the hunt for new people and products to feature and you don’t need a publicist in order to get their attention. You do, however, need to know what it looks like to pitch like a pro. DIY publicity works, but only if you play by these oft-unspoken-by-editors rules (as well as the rules in my book, Recipe for Press). When you do, it makes all the difference in scoring easy press.
Keep it personal
Always address the editor or blogger by name (and make sure you spell it correctly). Don’t copy every media contact you have on the same pitch. Nothing sends them reaching for the delete key faster.
Engage the editor quickly
Editors receive hundreds of pitches each week, so you’ve got about three to five seconds to catch their eye. Grab their attention with a compelling headline and a clean photograph embedded directly into the email, and keep your pitch tight, preferably two short paragraphs or less.
Work with the editorial calendar
The time to pitch an idea to a national magazine for their holiday gift guides is not in November when you hear your first holiday song. Editors and writers for national magazines work six months out, and regional publications pull their pages together three months in advance. Recipe for Press recently released a helpful tool called the Pitch Wheel that takes the math out of when and what to pitch.
Spend on good photography
Editors often determine whether the pitch is right for them by the picture you send with it. Most editors know if they can use your product the second their eye hits the photo. Send crisp, well-lit images against a white backdrop to help your pitch rise to the top of the submission pile. And know that editors don’t open attachments. You want to embed the low-res (72 dpi) image into the email instead of sending large files that slow or clog an inbox.
Give your pitch a header or subject
Like a handrail for your idea, a good lead gives editors the skinny on the story you have in mind at a glance. A little teaser for a new red umbrella like "Cool Wet Weather Gear ….for under $25" helps the editor see that your product could fit in a number of themed roundups or sections.
Make it new
The one word an editor wants to see in every pitch is “new.” If what you’re pitching is not new, then it is your job to tie the idea or product into a new trend, a holiday or current event.
Respond to editors quickly
Plenty of passionate people with strong ideas fail to receive the press their products deserve because they are slow to respond to editorial requests.
Editors operate on very tight deadlines. If we can’t find you, we may have to move on to the company we know will come through for us by returning our call immediately or emailing us back within an hour every time.
Get to know the publication before you pitch
The biggest mistake you can make when engaging editors is to not read the publication before you pitch. Print and online publications are formatted similarly every day/week/month, and getting to know their formula will help you identify a great fit. Do your homework first before reaching out.