February 9, 2015
Pitches are an art. You don't want to be too aggressive or salesy, but you do want people to sit up and listen. Email pitches are even more of an uphill battle- how do you grab someone's attention amid all the spam they get?
Not only that, but where do you begin? Who should you reach out to? What should you say?
A well-crafted email pitch can help you get the attention you want for your startup. Here's how to do it right:
1. Narrow Your Audience
The best way to avoid looking like spam is not to be spam. Mass emails reek of spam and rarely will be taken seriously. Rather than casting a wide net, spend time researching specific targets for your idea. If you're looking for PR for your startup, doing a Google News search for your area will give you a list of articles by experts writing about your topic. Go one step further and find other posts by the same writer or company. See how often they write about this subject.
If you only find one or two related articles, it's probably not their main area of focus and you'll be better off prioritizing writers who specialize in your topic. Sending them an email will likely yield positive results since they're already writing about the things you do. If Google News doesn't work, try general Google search for your area and follow the same steps.
2. Make it easy
Your target recipient is more likely to read all the way to the end if you lay out your main points in simple language and use bullet points. Talk numbers. Numbers and statistics are easy to read and understand. They also help people take you seriously – you've done the research and have the proof that your idea delivers results. Perfect your one-sentence pitch and include it in the beginning of the email. That way they know right away what your product/idea is about and it will be easier them to decide whether they like it.
3. Include social media
Include links to your Facebook page, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. People want to see how many “likes” your product has and the comments they're making about it. It's free press and it gives them a sense of who you are, what you do, who your audience is and if your product works. It's not just coming from your mouth, but from the mouth of your consumers, giving you more credibility. Social media is a powerful way to advertise your startup's potential for success.
4. Don't be afraid to talk about the competition
Naming your competitors helps the reporters place your product/idea in the spectrum of products/ideas that are out there. If you followed step #1 and have written to experts in your field, then they'll be familiar with the ins and outs of your competitor's work. Build on that and describe how your product compares to theirs and why it's better. Researching your competitors while pitching to the media, you're actually doing their work and make it easier for them to understand write about you.
5. The follow-up
If you send a pitch and don't get a response, it's okay to follow up. Even the most carefully crafted pitch can be ignored if the sender is unknown. So go ahead and send a follow-up email. They may remember that they've seen your name in their inbox before. Don't include all the details of the original message, just some of the main points to refresh their memory or, if they're reading you for the first time, give them a clear enough idea of your startup. Once is enough for follow-ups, more than that starts to feel annoying. Use the same thread when sending an email follow-up rather than starting a new one.
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