5 Tips To Improve Your Pitch (And Professionalism)
• October 1, 2012
Very simply put, there are a handful of things every blogger can do to up her “professional quotient.” Some are really simple, some take time, but all of these suggestions will help you put a little polish on your pitch. As it were.
1. Basic Email Etiquette
Just because a refresher never hurt anyone (and because a list inside a list is fun):
- Spell the person’s name right. Check and double-check.
- If you get the person’s name wrong, send a message apologizing. It makes a difference.
- Spell check.
- If you’re not already, get into the habit of paying attention to the cc: line. If people are cc’d in messages to you, cc them back.
- Don’t “Reply All” to group messages unless you have a very specific reason to.
- Do not write novels. Emails should be direct and to-the-point. Large blocks of text will be skipped over.
- Include contact information in your email signature.
- Do not “decorate” your emails. Don’t use colorful fonts, italics, squiggles, cursive, or emoticons.
- Don’t send attachments unless requested; try to use URLs instead. If you must send an attachment, don’t send images/.jpgs. (Many companies’ email servers think messages with .jpgs are SPAM.)
- Set up an email address in your name or your blog’s name. Not your kids’ names, your family’s names, or your husband’s name. Use it just for professional exchanges, if nothing else.
2. Don’t use weird, corporate-ese language.
Making your language more formal or “professional” does not mean making it awkward. Say what you mean and leave it at that. There’s no need for long, winding sentences. Or mysterious commas. Or funny jargon.
Ask yourself, “Is there an easier way to say this?” For example: Don’t write utilize when you mean use.
Be yourself, use your voice. (Remember, that’s what you’re selling!)
Above all, professional writing is organized writing.
3. Blogging is personal, but sponsors are not your friends.
Do not tell your “story” in a professional pitch.
Your blog has attracted readers because you have compelling and well-told stories – and yes, that is what blogging is all about. But talking about your life, your wants, and your needs is rarely appropriate in the business world. Compromise: reference what you write about, but keep your pitch separate. In other words, tell what your story is, but don’t actually tell it.
Thus, your pitch should include, at a minimum:
- Your blog name
- What you write about, ideally in the context of the sponsor you are seeking. If you write a lot about, say, your endless struggles trying to keep your home clean, mention this in a pitch to a cleaning product company!
- Your audience, # of followers, level of engagement, Twitter followers, etc. (Whatever seems most compelling to you.)
Comparatively, your pitch should not include (unless requested):
- Details about your story, like the names of your children, spouse, pets, etc.
- How much experience you don’t have
- Personal reasons for why you need money
- Personal details that don’t pertain to your pitch
Of course, personal touches are great. You don’t have to be completely robotic and impersonal! But generally speaking, a pitch that focuses on who you are, what you bring to the table, and what you will help the potential sponsor achieve is far more compelling than an email about why you’re broke.
4. Be, uh, thoughtful about using social media to bash companies, sponsors, clients, and other social media people.
As an influential blogger, Facebooker, Twitterer, and all-around social media maven, you have a lot of tools at your disposal. It’s easy to use these tools to complain about your days, your pet peeves, and people and companies who annoy you. OH, HOW EASY IT IS. And we would never, ever, ever ask or expect you to ever post dishonestly about anything. Ever.
But? Be cautious. Or at least thoughtful. If you spend a lot of your blog space making fun of or complaining about other people/companies/brands, that can be a little scary for potential sponsors. Do you seem like a loose canon?
You have every right to be yourself and to take those chances. But if you want to be taken seriously as a professional, it’s up to you to behave professionally. Wherever you draw that line.
5. Do your research.
You know how annoying it is when you get pitches from companies that don’t know your name, that misspell your blog, that solicit you for parenting-related products when you don’t have kids, etc. Totally unprofessional, right?
Well, it works the same in reverse. Whereas doing just the slightest bit of homework can make your pitch stand out.
If you’re pitching someone in particular (and try to do this whenever possible), look up her bio first. If it’s not on the company website, it’s probably on LinkedIn. Get a sense of who she is. This way, you avoid telling her something she already knows (ex: you don’t want to spend time explaining how impressive your two years of blog experience is if the person you’re writing has been blogging since 2001; you might not want to throw your site stats around to someone who’s an SEO expert). On the plus side, you may also find you have a person, company, or even hobby in common.
If you’re pitching yourself to a company, spend some time researching what the organization has already done in the space. Maybe they already have a brand ambassador program and are looking to enhance it? Maybe they have a blog but clearly need help updating it? Maybe the company has no Twitter presence whatsoever and you know you can improve that?
The more specifically useful you can make yourself seem to an organization, the better your chances are of landing the gigs you want.