Email Pitch Examples: 5 Media Pitches That Worked
With context and analysis
Would you like to be able to name-drop “as seen in” and the names or logos of fancy media outlets in your bio?
Are you someone who learns quickly when you see email pitch examples or screenshots that show you exactly what worked?
To land media placements for yourself, you have to know how to write an effective media pitch and a great subject line. This article will show you 5 media pitches that worked.
My background isn’t in PR and media; it’s in sales pitch writing and digital marketing. Years ago, however, my consulting business’ primary client was a startup PR agency for entrepreneurs.
In working alongside established publicists, I saw how they structured their pitches to maximize comprehension and success. Getting a media outlet interested requires many of the same strategies you probably already use to communicate your value proposition, promote a recent post, or make a call to action.
PR pitches are structured like tiny advertisements. And the publicists who had the most success sent email pitches to relevnat journalists and had compact, headline-like subject lines.
Email Pitch Examples: Post Outline
- Context: Why even care about pitching media?
- Example #1: Laser-focused cold pitch (Outlet: Fast Company)
- Example #2: Idea dump pitch (Outlet: Debugger)
- Example #3: Timely, relevant information pitch (Outlet: Business Insider)
- Example #4: “Seizing the opportunity” pitch (Outlet: USA Today)
- Example #5: Rolodex pitch (Outlet: Screw The Nine To Five podcast)
Seeing past email pitch examples that have worked will help. Before we do that, though, let’s talk about why you should work PR and earned media efforts into your busy schedule in the first place.
Why Even Care About Pitching Media?
Vocabulary refresher: When your content or expertise gets featured by someone else, that’s known as earned media. Earned media gives you the best of both worlds; it helps you reach a larger audience while also being very trustworthy.
Once you’ve landed a media placement, you can refer back to it for life, and can incorporate the distinction into your website, bio, and content to wow your qualified leads. Here’s a bit more context as to why these email pitch examples will help you.
Earned media is often considered the most trustworthy form of media. According to a report by Cision, 92% of consumers trust earned media, whereas only 50% trust ads.
Whether it be quotes in publications, magazine features, television apperances, or podcast interviews, having outside endorsement from a media outlet projects authority. Milk these placements in your future marketing efforts every chance you get.
Remember: The internet makes us increasingly skeptical with each passing year. As an aspiring writer and/or entrepreneur, you have to follow up often and wear down this skepticism before readers will trust you. Earned media is like an electric sander for skepticism, and it fits neatly into a bio or website, too.
Media placements increase your overall visibility in several ways.
If you want to grow the audience for your business or brand, one of the best ways to speed the process along is to (ethically) put yourself in front of someone else’s audience. This could be a guest post, an interview, or a feature with a publication.
A less-discussed marketing benefit of media is quality backlinks. When it comes to SEO, one of the biggest factors in making your website more visible is to have a variety of external backlinks: Circumstances in which an outside website has linked back to your website or blog post.
The more established the website, the better the backlink, and media outlets have some of the most robust and established backlinks on the internet. These journalists are often busy, so you’ll need to follow up often to land opportunities.
When you’re quoted in a media article, it’s likely that the author will hyperlink your name or company name back to your website. A handful of external backlinks could be the deciding factor as to whether your website appears on the first page of search results.
According to Backlinko, first-page results on Google searches get 71% of all the clicks, and the first result alone gets almost 30% of the clicks.
It’s okay to aspire to be #1 here. ☺️
In Some Cases, You’ll Be Paid
Cha-ching! Sending cold emails and following up can make you money.
Freelance journalists and writers make their living by pitching outlets that pay for content. If you want to make some moolah along the way, and can write quickly and well, pitch outlets that pay.
To make the grade, however, your pitch will need to be clean and tight. That means a killer first sentence, a clear value proposition, and no spelling mistakes or grammar errors.
Earned media doesn’t always have to be big-name publications or TV shows.
➡️ Doing a spot on a podcast or your local radio station is earned media.
➡️ Giving a virtual masterclass in someone’s Facebook group is earned media.
➡️ Writing a guest post for someone in your network is earned media.
When you have past placements to show off, it makes asserting credibility with readers or prospective clients so much easier. By the time someone is ready to hop on a call or webinar with you and hear your sales pitch, they’ll look at you like a celebrity. This is good.
Whether you want to dip your toes into pitching now or later, it’s always helpful to see what has worked in the not-too-distant past. So here are screenshots of 5 email pitch examples of mine that became successful media placements.
Example #1: Laser-Focused Cold Pitch
Outlet: Fast Company
I sent this pitch in for Fast Company’s Work Life column, which resulted in this article. Like many media publications, the media outlet requests that you send an already-completed draft of your article for consideration when you submit.
This email pitch example was short and to the point.
While there is no one perfect formula for a winning pitch, it’s good to remember that editors and journalists often receive hundreds of pitches a day in their inboxes. Think of ways to stick out.
I usually try to incorporate the following:
- A personal detail that shows this is not a stock pitch
- Proof that I’ve already read the instructions on the website
- One to three sentences on why this content would be interesting specifically for that outlet’s audience (A lot of you are missing this step)
- Either (1) my 100-word bio (placed below my signature), or (2) one sentence of polite bragging
Subject line strategy is another article for another day, but a good rule of thumb is to lead with something short and compelling. The rules of email marketing apply here: Your subject line is your front door, so make it attractive and enticing.
Example #2: Idea Dump
The previous email pitch example included a draft of the proposed article because that is what the site’s instructions tell you to do. In most cases, however, you’ll want to pitch an idea or a story topic first. As long as there’s a spark of intrigue between you and a prospective editor, your pitch can stand on ideas alone to start.
OneZero is a popular technology publication on Medium. When they announced their new gadgets sub-publication Debugger, I decided to popcorn a few ideas over to the editors. I wasn’t sure what the editors might want, so I led with three options.
The call for submissions also had a lighthearted side note, which was that dog pics were encouraged. This is strategic; it means you should send dog pics to prove you paid attention to the submissions prompt.
Here’s what I sent over.
I don’t normally include images in pitches, but since one of my article ideas was a visual tutorial it made sense to throw it in. A media pitch email is very similar to a sales pitch email, make it exciting!
When you pitch a group of ideas like this, my suggestion is to keep it to three topics max, and to use the same 1–3 sentence formula as the previous example for each. Make the subject line even more direct and clear.
Read this email pitch example closely. I state the problem the prospective audience has, then share how my article will solve that problem. What’s nice about this popcorn approach is that sometimes more than one pitch is accepted; in this case, two ideas turned into published articles.
Example #3: Timely, Relevant Information
Outlet: Business Insider
Commentary or content related to real-time events has high potential for media coverage.
The email pitch example below was for a contributed article with Business Insider. In the wake of George Floyd’s death and other social activism efforts, brands began using their Instagram link to encourage letters to local politicians and decision-makers. People online wanted to know how to create one-click email templates and promote activism via their own Instagram profiles.
These links are called mailto links — boring stuff, honestly — but suddenly they were trendy as hell.
I had used mailto links regularly in a prior job. After refreshing my memory on Business Insider’s submission instructions, I whipped up a tutorial and then sent this pitch over.
This pitch length is about what I aim for when pitching cold or gauging interest, and putting my bio after my signature helps the pitch feel shorter.
I once met an editor of a top NYC-based national magazine at a networking event; during our small talk, he mentioned he had gotten one thousand pitches that day. This is extreme, but receiving dozens or even hundreds of pitches a day is not abnormal for editors at established outlets.
The best pitches are ones that make your case quickly and well.
Example #4: Seizing The Opportunity
Outlet: USA TODAY
Don’t sleep on those HARO’s, y’all!
HARO is a database for journalists and sources. Journalists submit a query whenever they need an expert or commentary for a story, and three times a day HARO sends out a newsletter with the queries and gives you an opportunity to pitch yourself.
HARO is most online entrepreneurs’ first foray into “do it yourself” PR and media, and it can be a nice resource for drumming up mentions in various outlets.
I’ll be honest: The pitch below is… not my best work. It was a long day, and at the time it felt like a long shot, so I threw something together and formatted it in a way that was easy to skim.
A few weeks later, I found myself flying to New York City for 24 hours to shoot some LGBTQ video content for USA Today. The feature came out three months later.
Notice how, again, I link out to some of my past placements for reference. Since this was a video opportunity, I gave the producer examples of me in a live interview setting so they could see how I show up on camera.
Be proactive in your pitches whenever you can.
Example #5: Rolodex Flex
Outlet: Screw The Nine To Five Podcast
Some of you already have relationships with potential media connections, but you’re afraid to pitch them. Your connections would love to hear your idea! Develop relationships regularly by adding value to others and you’ll find yourself much better positioned to ask for a favor down the line.
I had listened to the Screw The Nine To Five podcast for years and had connected with the owners a few times. When my consulting business shifted, I reached out, and they suggested I send over three pitches — full pitches — in one email for consideration.
If I’m about to send a really long email or pitch, I sometimes put a few quick sentences up at the top to add any context or notes. Here’s what I sent – along with the pitch that was selected.
Even more than other types of media, podcast pitches have to really zero in on how an interview with you would add value to their audience.
Always remember to make your pitch about them first and about yourself second.
If you’re pitching yourself and not seeing results… keep at it.
Continue learning and look for how you can make your next pitch cleaner or more relevant to editors, producers, journalists, or other decision makers.
Sharpen your pitch game and you’ll see more of your ideas turn into interviews, mentions, and features that you can leverage as credibility markers for years to come.
Thanks for reading. 🙏🏼
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