Words are the bread and butter of PR.
Public relations is a persuasive artform. Whether it’s a press release, an email conversation or a social media post, written words can sway opinions and beliefs.
More than 50 million Americans (30 percent of the nation’s workforce) pursue freelance work. The dawn of the Internet Age has enabled writers—including PR pros—to find more writing opportunities, which can set them apart as industry leaders and may offer additional income.
PR pros who want to write guest articles must be well versed in cold emailing. This modern day equivalent to cold calling requires well-constructed, deliberate wording that is cohesive and inviting. There are many good strategies for pitching news and creative pieces, but there are additional measures you can take when you go after a dream website or publication. Follow these 12 tips to ensure your guest-post pitch doesn’t wind up buried in an inbox or spam folder:
1. Think of the receiver’s perspective.
Website owners and editors receive hundreds (or thousands) of inquiries a day. Respect this truth while using it to your advantage.
Keep emails short and sweet. Be specific and succinct, and do not waste people’s time.
You are communicating with a living, breathing human. Identify, based on the site’s context, whom that person is. It’s possible to gain insight into who will receive your email based on the tone of the site or the email address. This may require a little bit of digging, but in many cases the person you’re trying to contact is actively engaging on Twitter or other social platforms.
2. Interact with editors through social media.
Follow the website or publication on Twitter and Instagram, like it on Facebook and find its contact person on LinkedIn or Google Plus.
Preferences aside, editorial staff will often maintain a strong social networking presence. If they are active on social sites, follow those people directly. It may even be worth your time to tweet or direct message them, especially if they follow back.
Become a regular presence on the site you want to contribute to, as well. Comment on articles, and try to get a dialogue flowing with both readers and the site’s authority figures. This takes time, but will equate to long-term benefit.
3. Prove that you’ve done your homework.
Read the website’s content.
This will help gauge the publication’s writing style, and will show you’re genuinely interested in the subject matter. If there isn’t interest and excitement, find another site or realign your pitch.
4. Remain courteous.
Always use basic manners and courteous language. There is a gap in communication when cold emailing, so sarcasm is not advised (unless the site itself lends to that.) In PR, it’s crucial to use professional language.
If your ideas, published work or email gets criticized, remain polite. Use constructive feedback and don’t take it personally.
5. Draft a captivating email.
Identify what makes your email stand out and use the elements of a successful creative pitch . Don’t overthink or overwork a pitch. Short and concise ideas reign supreme.
Formatting is also important; Draft your email so it’s both easy to read and visually appealing.
6. Create a compelling subject line.
The subject line is often what separates a good email from the bad. Have the core message of your email incorporated into the subject title, but don’t directly spell it all out.
Be clever; A generic subject line usually goes unopened.
Use what is going on in the world—like a timely event, holiday or anniversary—to make an immediate connection, and prove that you are a real person. This method works exceptionally well when the time-sensitive matter aligns directly with what you’re pitching.
Avoid using spammy tactics such as click-bait-style subject lines or all caps.
7. Showcase your talents.
Explain why you’re a legitimate author. Have you written dozens of articles that were published this year, or possess other ideal credentials? Are you a specialist in the industry you want to write about?
Highlight these qualifications and link to your author pages or previous work.
8. Avoid apologetic language.
Use language that instills confidence and doesn’t raise spammy red flags.
The less apologetic you seem, the more likely it is that you will get a response. Do not put yourself at a psychological disadvantage; Avoid uncertainty, be direct and don’t use apologetic wording.
9. Don’t use templates.
Sending multiple well-written emails can be meticulous and draining. However, using templates can appear soulless and robotic. If there’s one person who can sniff out that non-personable approach, it’s an editor.
Be extremely careful if you do use templates, and have variations that you may pick and choose depending on the website or idea you want to convey.
10. Submit ideas.
When an editor is excited about an idea from a potential guest writer, they might ask to see a draft. Have your idea outlined ahead of time to avoid a time lapse.
If you don’t have an outline, give a timeframe for when the editor will see your content.
11. Be patient.
Getting guest posts accepted can take weeks, or even months. Follow up with editors if you haven’t heard back in a while, but don’t flood them with too many emails.
A friendly nudge or reminder never hurts, but don’t be an annoyance.
12. Close strong.
Avoid generic closing lines such as, “Sincerely” and, “Thank you.” Humor or something memorable will resonate with the reader.
Brainstorm your own list of closing statements; these ideas will get the ball rolling. Choose a closer that is unique and doesn’t seem forced.
Many want to become regular contributors to dream blogs and websites, but those who spend time and effort crafting outstanding emails and pitches will prevail. Eliminate the mystery behind cold emailing with these tips.
Robert Parmer is an independently driven writer and student at Boise State University. Follow him on Twitter: @robparmer.