The second in a series of three guest posts from Lucy Werner founder of The Wern, this week we are looking at how to pitch a guest post. These are great for raising your profile, building your credibility, driving new customers and ultimately sales for your business.
Before we get started on how to pitch guest posts, I just want to dispel what I think is one of the greatest myths in PR. In 2019 it is not about who you know, it is about how you tell your story.
The other day, one of my coaching clients said she couldn’t get a guest article because she didn’t have the right contacts. Believe me, when I tell you that over 90 per cent of the coverage I secure for myself, and my own clients, are not with journalists that I’m friends with.
Here is how I structure my pitch emails which has secured coverage in titles such as Huffington Post, FT Opinion, Gal-dem, Red online, Courier and Shortlist (RIP).
1. Read other guest posts and guidelines
Spend a good hour reading other posts and often the site will have guidelines of how to pitch e.g. they might want actionable tips, or it might have to be related to the news or they might want a strong crisis over adversity real-life story. Know your title before you pitch.
Warning: As an aside, don’t write the article first and then look to place it. This is backwards and it means you will not have written in the style for that publication but your own signature style. And one-size fits no-one my friend.
2. Subject line
I always write “Pitch
This demonstrates to the journalist immediately that the pitch is tailored to them, you have read the publication and you have crafted something bespoke for them. The headline should be your top pick of an article for them that would grab their readers attention.
Keep it friendly (not over-friendly) and to the point. Don’t bother with the ‘How are you today?’ journalists are busy and you probably don’t know them so just cut to the chase.
“Hello (name – spelt correctly),
My name is XX and I’m an expert in YY and ZZ. Would you be interested in the following ideas for a guest post:
4. Article Ideas
I tend to suggest two or three ideas, it gives the journalist some brain food and the opportunity to feedback and give editorial direction. In an ideal world you are not pitching they have just covered, but they might already be featuring one of your topics in the pipeline so having a few improves your chances.
I write one sentence per topics with a maximum of 2/3 non-pithy bullet points underneath.
5. Examples of previous writing
If you have not had a guest post before that’s fine. But use links to a blog on your website, LinkedIn or medium to demonstrate your writing style. Again, I tend to bullet point a few examples.
6. Demonstrate wider expertise
Lastly, if relevant I will include a boiler plate, business bio or personal bio at the bottom. This provides a wider context and credentials to cement why you might be good for them.
Make sure you have a signature with your email and phone number included. Your email may very well get forwarded on and you want to make sure you are easy to reach.
Trust me when I tell you that once you have nailed how to pitch properly to a journalist, then you can just rinse and repeat this process. It is a great way for raising your profile, driving awareness of your expertise and showcasing your personality. In a world where people buy people, a strong opinion article can be more useful to your business as an advert.
Final note: Guest posts shouldn’t read like an advertisement for your business. There is nothing more in authentic then someone wanging on about how great their offering is. People want to know about your business challenges, interesting points of view, human interest stories not a first-hand account from a business owner on why they are great.
Want to learn more?
I’m working with Found & Flourish on their first ever PR Power Hour, which is a collaboration with some of the UK’s best female PR experts specialising in small businesses and entrepreneurs. If you want to hear from leading industry experts on how to do publicity grab your tickets for just £35 here:
All attendees will also have the opportunity for a whole hour of speed networking with all of the panellists, including myself, worth over £100 of one-to-one PR consultancy. This is a great event for anyone who wants some affordable PR quality help without paying for the agency price tag.
If you want further access to free PR resources, events, tips and general wittering’s from myself then click here.
About the Author
Lucy Werner is founder of The Wern, a communications consultancy for small businesses, entrepreneurs and independent brands.
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