I have very much enjoyed and appreciated my time as a contributor at Inc.com. Over the past several years, I have met amazing people, heard wonderful stories, and expanded on my own understanding of business and entrepreneurship more than I could have done on my own.
And while I love hearing from entrepreneurs and readers who seek to share their stories, the vast majority of pitches never make it past my inbox, because they are generic, self-serving and generally uninteresting.
Grabbing the attention of a contributor or journalist to have your story shared with his or her readers requires more than just a cold-email or Twitter direct message. It takes energy and effort, and it starts with the initial contact.
I literally receive an average of twenty or more pitches every day -- and I know I am not alone on this. While I make an honest attempt to read and respond to every message, the shear volume makes it impossible to do so. For that reason, I personally appreciate pitches that are short, sweet and simple and considerate of my time.
The headline of a story is one of the most important considerations for an article. Contributors and editors spend a tremendous amount of mental resources crafting and testing them. As such, consider how your headline would read and include it with your pitch. Remember, if you would not be compelled to open and read the headline, more than likely a contributor won't either.
I enjoy writing about particular business topics, and I have a number of personal interests. These are not difficult to ascertain with a little research. Pitches that are aligned with these topics and interests peek my attention and will get the most consideration. As well, I almost always notice when the sender has spent time personalizing the message.
Now that you have the contributor's attention, it is time to make the pitch. Above all else, avoid pitches that are promotional in nature -- "my company/its founder is awesome" or "these are the benefits of our product/service" will almost certainly get ignored -- at least by me.
Contributors are not personal publicists. We look for stories that will resonate with our readers and are worthy of the time to create them. To check if your pitch satisfies, remember this simple acronym: M.O.V.E.
Stories need to be relevant and timely, and they should resonate with readers. You and your company are awesome -- got it -- but as a readers, we're asking, "so what, who cares?" What resonates well are inspirational founding stories, overcoming challenges and adversity, and persevering through failures. We can all relate to these.
There are countless articles being published online every day, including more than enough that cover popular topics, such as leadership. These stories may get short-term attention, but they are quickly lost in the next hour's news cycle. For your story to stand out -- and get shared -- consider an angle that is fresh and unique.
Good entrepreneurial stories will get published. Great entrepreneurial stories that add value to readers will get published, read and shared copiously. As you craft your pitch, consider specific tips, resources, lessons, takeaways and other advice you can offer to improve the lives of the readers.
While I enjoy writing informative and value-adding content for readers, I also enjoy exploring my own creativity from time to time. Stories that help me do this are some of my favorite to work on.
In the end, every contributor has different interests and their own unique writing style, voice and tone. To rise above other pitches you should be sensitive to this.
Leveraging contributors and journalists to raise the visibility of your company or your profile is a great strategy -- and it costs nothing to do. But to rise above the noise and really have an impact, make sure your story MOVEs.
So, how does your story MOVE?