If you’ve recently graduated from journalism school, you’ve undoubtedly heard your teachers repeat the same two mantras: first, traditional journalists is on the decline, and second, you’ll need to pitch for your life if you want to advance from scrappy young hopeful to real live reporter.
Shoehorning your way into journalism in this competitive atmosphere can feel like pushing water uphill with a rake.
Even if one can launch a freelance reporting career, many journalists eventually trade in their press credentials for brand-focused jobs with less arduous turnarounds (and often, higher paychecks).
If you’re an ex-journalist wanting to enter into content marketing, you should know that your skill set will take you far. As told by CEOs, founders, and marketing professionals, here’s how to leverage editorial skills to pitch brands successfully.
Conducting significant background research is an editorial superpower
Journalistic research lies at the intersection of speed, precision, and quality. As a result, when mining for information in content marketing, editorial writers are regular Sherlocks. To pitch brands, start by reviewing the organization’s existing material and determining what they’re missing. Here’s where you come in.
Once you’ve introduced a brand’s existing content, apply what you’ve learned to curate your writing samples. “Before you send out that pitch, make sure your previous content examples are targeted,” Performio creator David Marshall advised. “If you don’t have anything like that, set aside a day or two to develop some high-quality spec work.”
Keeping an eye on the pulse
The capacity to adapt topics into stories is essential to a journalist’s entire career. According to Arthur Iinuma, president of ISBX and a veteran writer in Entrepreneur, Inc, and TechCrunch, finding a newsworthy angle is also helpful in a brand-facing setting.
If you want to go above and beyond, utilize your journalistic eye to uncover sources and facts that highlight the relevance of your topic, and add specific numbers in your pitch.
“If you’re addressing an industry problem, back up your claim with numbers from a credible source,” stated Brad Touesnard, founder and CEO of SpinupWP. “Save your greatest material for the content itself, but have a [hook that the brand] can consider alongside your pitch.”
Creating attention-grabbing headlines and ledes
A gripping headline is worth its weight in gold to any journalist, and the same is actual in content marketing. So, stick to some tried-and-true copywriting rules: write like you talk and keep it short. Overly polished or long-winded pitches can turn off businesses, even if they search for something long-form in the end.
When it comes to pitches, Mike Nemeroff, CEO and co-founder of custom garment store Rush Order Tees emphasized the importance of delivering quality over quantity. “The content writers that stand out are those who can inform and persuade in just a few sentences,” he says. “Even if I receive a good pitch that drags on, it will usually lose to one that is short and sweet.”
How to Pitch Brands?
If you’ve previously pitched editorial newspapers, you’ll have an advantage in this procedure. Raising brands isn’t much different, though you’ll want to make a few changes to your template, the most important of which being that, unlike journalism, brand material is inherently biased.
Consider all the tedious methods to balance an editorial story. You would consider all the meticulous ways to position a content marketing piece to display the business positively while still providing value to the audience.
Furthermore, every pitch that leaves your desk should adhere to a few golden rules:
- From the subject line to the signature, personalize your email. Boilerplate pitches are often discarded. The same is true for pitches that do not demonstrate a writer’s personality.
- From the first email, nail the tone. While you want your personality to come through, ensure that the general style and language are consistent with the company’s previously released documents. To provide you with the correct tone, research the company’s goal, vision, and values ahead of time. Consider it is adhering to the brand’s rendition of AP Style.
- Avoid burying the lede. When pitching brands, employ an inverted pyramid strategy similar to how you would for journalistic writing. Put the crux of your proposal front and center. Concentrate on demonstrating the value you can add. If the company is interested in your resume, they can discover it on LinkedIn.
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