Five Tips for Pitching Me

working1I write for a lot of publications. I contribute regularly to four blogs and infrequently to a few magazines. And, I have my two personal blogs (this one and UWS Dad), both of which I’ve been neglecting lately. So, I get pitched a lot. That’s fine with me; I actually like it. I’d rather choose what I’m going to pursue than have a publicist make the choice for me (i.e., by not pitching). I like doing my job, and I really don’t need any help. I do read (or at least scan) every pitch I receive. But, the scanning becomes shorter for some publicists who just don’t get what I do. I get a surprisingly small amount of off-topic (and otherwise bad) pitches, but every now and then, someone does something stupid.

And, I realize I have a role in the process – one that I haven’t fulfilled as well as I should.

After the jump, you’ll find a few tips for pitching me. They really aren’t all that difficult. Hell, most of them are common sense. Since common sense ain’t so common, I’m spelling it out for everyone. Read the list once and you’ll be set for a long time. When in doubt, ask. I’d much rather get an e-mail from someone trying to understand what I do than just get a random pitch that has nothing to do with me. And, you’ll get the opportunity to grow the relationship a bit.

1. Know my publications

This requires a bit more than a Google search. Actually take the time to look at the dates on these articles, and spend a few minutes figuring out where I write most often. I’ll help you get started. My big four are: Gadling, Luxist, BloggingStocks and DailyFinance. If you have an appropriate pitch for one of these blogs, we have much to talk about. Occasionally, I write for Envy Magazine and Smokeshop.

What I absolutely hate is when I get a pitch specifically for The Atlantic Monthly. I wrote for that magazine exactly once. I’d love to write for it again, but I need a kickass story, and it’s unlikely to be the type that comes from a publicist. This also goes for some of the other high-profile magazines for which I’ve written (British GQ and Boston magazine). It irritates the shit out of me when I get a pitch for some dumbass profile on a minor executive for The Atlantic.

And, it’s a bit insulting.

I spend most of my time in the blog world … because I like it there. It’s home. When you tell me you want me to write something for The Atlantic, you’re basically saying, “The blogs you write for suck. I want the ‘good’ publication.” Instead of being an asshole, use your head. Three of my primary blogs are in the top 50 on Technorati. The readerships are large enough to make your head spin, and my readers click links aggressively (I’ve verified this with the people I’ve covered). My blog readers are the ones you want.

You’re best bet is just to pitch me and let me decide where I want to use it. Again, let me do my job.

2. Stay on topic

This isn’t hard. I cover a ton of stuff: art, cigars, business, travel and technology. So, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be interested. But, you have to understand that there are some things that just don’t interest me (such as politics). Or, you may think something’s a big deal, even though it’s really bullshit (the fact that your client didn’t pay you will rarely interest me). Take a look at what I’ve written to get a sense of what turns me on.

If you want to pitch me on something that I don’t currently cover, I’m open – just let me know up front. “Hey,” you could say, “this might be pretty cool for you. Any interest?” It was a pitch like this that got me started as a travel writer with Doubledown Media (RIP), which ultimately led me to Gadling. And, the gig with Gadling is what opened the doors to the other blogs on my list.

3. Don’t hard sell me

I get excited easily … over little things. So, if I don’t get excited over your pitch, don’t push harder – that’s only going to sour things between us. Just accept that there are some things the world may think is really cool that just won’t matter to a nerd like me. It’s life. Deal.

4. Have photos ready

I generally have to source my own photos – as is the case with most bloggers. I find doing this to be the worst part of my job. It sucks. I don’t like it. Photography doesn’t interest me, and I get no thrill out of looking at a ton of shitty pictures to find the one that sucks least. If you make this part of my job easier, you’ll become a saint in my eyes. If there’s a photo credit, have that ready, too.

Not only does this make my job easier and more enjoyable, it saves me time – and that’s what matters to me most. If you save me time, I can do more writing, which is what I want to do. If I do more writing, the odds that your client will get more coverage increase. Do the match. 1 + 1 can = 3, and not just because writers and PR folks skipped calculus for that extra Shakespeare class.

5. Stay in Touch

You don’t need to have a press release to have a reason to give me a shout. Instead, you could just drop me a line to see how I’m doing (or, follow my Twitter feed to get a by-the-minute sense of how grumpy I am). Offer to get together for coffee, lunch or drinks every now and then. Believe it or not, I’m not addicted to free food and beverage (I’m fine paying my own freight); it’s just good to get together every now and then to kick around some ideas and generally see how life is treating you.

So, follow these tips, and you’ll be in great shape (with me, at least). Remember: I don’t toss to bad pitch blogs and never will. I think they are disruptive to our world. And, you have to fuck up pretty badly to wind up on my bad side. I only ignore two publicists. One regularly sends me the most worthless press releases, and the other violated rule #1 in style (not to mention misreading my article and calling something “recession-proof” which is a term that bugs the shit out of me).

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