How do you make your expert-opinion pitch irresistible to your target media?
Whether you’re pitching to the New York Times, Boston Globe, or a specialist industry publication/site here’s Five Dumbo Mistakes to avoid.
Dumbo Mistake 1 – failing to ‘know your media’
Not only must you know in detail your media, its readership and editorial opportunities you must have researched what its opinion section (online or print) has covered most recently.
There’s nothing more embarrassing to pitch an expert opinion piece to, let’s says, CIO magazine (leading tech media) only to discover that a near-identical piece was published two months earlier.
If you’re lucky – and the editor is feeling both exceptionally generous and courteous – you may get response on the lines of ‘thank you, but it’s something we’ve covered before’.
Normally, though, you’ll hear zilch, and if you follow up by telephone it’s total professional humiliation to be told directly: “We actually covered this exact same topic two months ago”
Dumbo Mistake 2 – targeting wrong editor
News editors are frantic organizing news ‘stories’ for their publication.
So don’t even think of pitching an expert-opinion piece to a news editor or news journalist. It’s like offering a dog a fresh peach. They’ll turn their nose up.
Instead approach the comment or opinion editor, or the journalist responsible for editing that section. And if you don’t know who that person is, telephone and find out!
Dumbo Mistake 3 – no incisive opinion
Yes, it may be obvious, but media are – when it comes to an expert-opinion pitch – interested in your view/opinion.
So while your argument must be carefully and incisively crafted it’s not in your interests to be impartial or to sit on the fence.
Instead, make your opinion stand out. Take sides. And often the punchier your opinion the better.
Here’s another technology example. If your expert believes the time is right now for firms to migrate their IT infrastructure to the cloud, and that it’s secure for them to do so then pitch on the angle of: “It’s never been more secure to migrate to the cloud – here’s why” Clear opinion.
Dumbo Mistake 4 – Long, dull-as-dishwater pitches.
Journalists and editors are quick decision-makers. They’ll spot in a flash if your expert-opinion pitch is a goer or not.
So, don’t spend hours sweating over a 1000-word pitch, overloaded with generalizations and forensic detail. Keep it razor sharp, and no more than 500 words. Bullet points work.
And while we’re at it, don’t be hideously vague with a line such as: “Maybe you’d be interested in a piece covering this topic….” [or some such variant].
Your target media is not interested in a ‘topic’, but an ‘opinion’
Dumbo Mistake 5 – failing to ‘big-up’ your expert.
Your target media will want expert-opinion pieces by authors of note, prestige, status or credibility. So ensure that you ‘market’ your expert-opinion author, doing your utmost to make them as ‘irresistible’ as possible to an editor.
No ‘spinning’ of facts required. Just put your case forward as persuasively as possible.
So, if your expert has written a book, won an award, achieved something remarkable, or has held a senior position relevant to that industry you’ll be underselling them if you don’t flag up these accomplishments.
Editors want as big as fish as they can for their expert-opinion roster. Even if your expert is not an established figure in their respective industry or field, there’s likely to be something in their resume that makes them noteworthy and instils credibility.
Want a real-life example of a top-notch expert-opinion pitch. Get in touch and I’ll email you one that secured the desired result!
P.S. I mean it…! Want a real-life example of a top-notch expert-opinion pitch. Get in touch and I’ll email you one that secured the desired result! firstname.lastname@example.org