Can you imagine the kind of impact your business could experience if you were to write for a top media blog or offline magazine?
The kind of impact you could experience can turn out to be a massive game changer for your business.
The question is, will a top media publication accept your pitch for a guest post?
I’m here to give you some ideas that will help you write for a top blog or news site.
Before we start, it is important that you must own and operate a blog that is full of solid content.
Either that, or you must be a published writer (e-books, whitepapers, etc.). If you do not fall into any of these categories, it is highly unlikely that your efforts will get results.
If you haven’t started content marketing—writing great content — that’s your first step.
With that said, let’s start.
1. Start following Help A Reporter Out (HARO) on Twitter.
HARO is a reporter’s hub where journalists can get help on articles they intend to write.
If you help out a couple of journalists in your niche, you will be able to quickly develop a network of journalists and editors that you can pitch to all the time.
You can follow HARO on Twitter here: @helpareporter
2. Create a database of journalists in your niche.
Remember that all journalists do not ask for help on HARO. Reporters that write for top media companies do their own spadework.
Create a spreadsheet with the following columns: Name — Publication — Niche
Fire up Google.com and search for “(state) journalists” or “American journalists database” (without the quotes). Do the same for editors.
Try out Followerwonk as well. This tool digs deep into Twitter profiles and bios and unearths meaningful results.
If you find data mining time-consuming, consider buying a database of journalists from any list research company out there.
3. Filter your journalist database.
It’s time to narrow down your database. This is a manual task and consumes time, but it must be done if you want to get inside a top publication.
Filter down your list of journalists to those working for top publications and operating in your niche.
4. Join a journalist group on LinkedIn.
Top off your theoretical journalist network by joining a journalism group on Linkedin.
Don’t just join. Be active in these groups, so people will recognize your name and face when the time comes to make a pitch.
5. Make a connection.
Connect with relevant journalists by following or liking pages on Twitter and Facebook. Do not communicate or pitch at this stage of the game.
Let’s now take stock of our assets. So far, you have a database of journalists for your niche, you know where reporters are requesting pitches, you are connected to journalists from top media outlets, and you have joined a group or several groups that allow you to connect with any journalist in the world.
It’s now time for some more preparation before making the pitch.
6. Research the journalist to whom you’ll pitch.
Learn everything about your journalists. Visit their Twitter and LinkedIn bios, read their About.me page, read their articles and generally learn what they love to write about and what topics they are missing out on.
Remember to scrape important keywords that they have used in their bios. You can then use these keywords in your pitch to strike a rapport.
Now open that spreadsheet we created in the section above, and add the following columns:
— Keywords — Location of Journalist — Topics of Interest
7. Locate and read the guest blogging guidelines.
To make your pitch meaningful, visit the journalists’ publication and find the guest blogging guidelines if available. It could be that the website doesn’t have guest blogging guidelines, or doesn’t have any information about guest blogging, period.
Journalists and editors hate blind pitching. Each journalist from a top media publication can receive hundreds of pitches per week!
They don’t have the time and patience to spoon-feed you their step-by-step guidelines on how to make your content publishable.
Know all there is to know before making the pitch.
8. Decide the best approach for your pitch.
Choosing a pitching channel is a tricky job. Some website owners pitch on Twitter, and some prefer email.
There’s a tradeoff here. On the one hand, journalists are busy. You don’t want to annoy them with long emails. On the other hand, you cannot keep your pitch too short, because 140 characters will render it inconsequential.
Therefore, the next best thing is to start participating.
Participate by posting comments, Tweets and blog articles.
These can significantly boost your networking and connecting chances. You have the research ready, you have the blog ready, you know most of the things in your niche. Why shouldn’t you share your knowledge with a group of journalists that is looking for insightful information and data?
This is the time to get creative and talk about innovative topics that will make the reporters and editors sit up and take notice of your ideas/blog.
Once you are well entrenched in the reporters’ world, you will not find it very difficult to make a successful pitch. Plus, your chances of rejection will also drop considerably.
10. Be active.
Posting a comment or a blog post once every week is not adequate. You must keep at it until journalists start noticing you and sharing your posts. Of course, this does not imply that you must bomb the social networks with your comments.
Your comments have to be relevant, sharp, intelligent, and to the point.
Knowledge of the industry and of the reporters you are targeting should help you post some solid content.
11. Know the don’ts.
Before creating the perfect pitch, know what to avoid — avoid lengthy pitches (journalists/editors nuke anything that goes beyond 4-8 lines), the topics must not be irrelevant to what the journalist writes about, the topic should not be something that every other journalist is writing about.
You have to be creative and innovative. Stay away from gimmicks. Don’t mess up the location. Never pitch to multiple reporters from the same publication.
Also, remember that your story angle is not about you and your writing skills. Journalists care about their audience. You must focus on the story and the audience instead of talking about yourself.
12. Learn the do’s.
Now that you know what not to do, here’s what you should do.
Be personal. You have adequate information about the journalist by now and therefore your pitch must address him or her by a first name.
If you use an email software to send multiple mails, ensure that each email is personalized. I do not recommend using an email tool for pitching.
The story you pitch must resonate with the journalist and must be backed by data from authoritative sources (if required and if possible).
Your message to the journalist must highlight why your story angle is unique and how it will make a difference to the publication’s readers. Pitch your story angle; do not pitch your portfolio.
Your subject line must be a killer. It must motivate the journalist to open and read through your message.
It’s time to make the pitch. Here is a sample that you can tweak:
Hey (journalist’s name),
Hope you’re doing well.
I read your articles regularly and know that you help readers learn the ins and outs of real estate investing in the USA. Here is one issue that could grab their attention:
How To Discover an Undervalued Property Without Consulting a Real Estate Broker (link this to your article).
I tweeted the article to you this morning. Do you think it’ll work?
Thanks (Journalist’s name) for reading my mail and looking forward to your feedback.
That’s it. If your content resonates, you will get the opportunity to publish it in a top magazine.
If you don’t get a reply in ten days or so, send a follow-up mail. However, please understand that the journalist or editor is under no obligation to reply.
You should expect rejections and unanswered emails. This is a long-term approach, not a one-and-done effort.
Like I said earlier, writing for a top media outlet can be a game changer for your business. Why? Because millions of viewers may read your piece, and some folks may be positively influenced by it.
You’ve probably realized by now that getting into a top publication is time-consuming and that your research, preparation, participation, and pitch must be perfect.
You are probably reading this article because you want to get your word out to millions of viewers.
If that’s your goal, now is the perfect time to get started.
Have you ever pitched a guest post to a top-tier publication? What was your experience?