How to pitch an expert column
I love successes! And I’ve just celebrated another one with a client of mine who landed his first advice column after sending ONE email. As a customer relationship management expert, he wanted to be in front of small businesses to help them with their client needs. I suggested he pitch a column idea, which he did. He sent it in at 10 am and got a positive response from the editor the SAME DAY at 6 pm.
Let’s go over what he did right. You can download the sample here
1) The subject line is short and clearly states what he’s proposing. He directs it at a specific section that he know is coming up because we found it on the newspaper’s editorial calendar. And he indicates that he has an idea for a column, which the editor will like because it provides straightforward content with transferable lessons that’s usually easy to edit.
2) Lots of bullet points and short sentences. His original paragraph explaining the problem he helps solve was twice that length. And I’m sure lots of you have expertise that can fill a whole email. But the key is to give just enough of a taste that demonstrates you have something that readers would be interested in seeing.
3) He provides several topics so the editor can choose one that hasn’t been written about before and that he knows his readers will benefit from. Provide value for their businesses and they will come back to read the publication again. And notice that several of them will be “Top 10” lists. Always attractive because they are easy to read and easy to edit.
4) The different topics are numbered. A small tip but one that makes it easy for the editor to turn aound and say, “I like No. 3. Send me 700 words.”
5) The pitch goes over the points that will be included. Not only does this clarify for the editor what the columns can be about, it demonstrates that the writer is not trying to sell his own services. He’s keeping the subject matter broad and applicable for everyone, whether they buy his product or not. It’s all about the lessons that people will learn from reading the column and building trust so they’ll turn to the writer when they want to know more,
6) He finishes off with some logistical matters – the fact that he has other contacts should the editor want to turn this into a bigger story; the fact that he has a high-res headshot so the editor won’t have to chase him for it; and then links to samples, so the editor can see quickly how good his writing is and that he does, indeed, sound like an expert.
Follow these 6 steps and you’ve covered all the bases needed for a proper expert column pitch.