Having started my fashion career as an intern in the public relations department at Louis Vuitton in New York City, I quickly learned the power of a persuasive pitch. Whether it was pitching our latest bag for the coveted September issue or pitching myself to one of the seasoned PR girls to handle the ELLE placement myself, having the ability to effectively communicate what I wanted, and get it, was paramount to being successful on any level.
Before branching out as a full-time fashion and lifestyle blogger and actress, I also did stints at two of the world’s leading brand strategy and design firms in their corporate marketing and public relations departments, which only strengthened my pitching skills.
I've taken what I learned from these experiences, put my own spin on them, and have used them to land sponsorships with brands including Urban Decay, Redken, and WEtv, press placements in BRINK magazine, Simply Stylist, and Popsugar’s Shopstyle Collective, as well as a land a film and television agent at ICM Partners.
Below are seven pillars to a perfect pitch that you can use to elevate your personal brand, realize professional goals, get invites to industry events, and expand your network of influencers.
But like any socially savvy and fearless blogger, put your own spin on them and use your own voice to pitch you way into the life and career that you deserve. Can I get a #bloggerboss?!
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH and tailor your pitch.
I cannot stress this enough. Make sure you know exactly to whom you are pitching and why. Determine your objective, i.e. why you're reaching out, and work backwards from there. For example, if you're goal is a brand sponsorship for your blog, here is a template for putting together the background for your pitch:
Objective: To get a paid brand sponsorship for my blog
Target brand: Madewell
Things to know before pitching:
- Past brand sponsorships
- In-house PR contact or PR agency contact
- Do they frequently work with bloggers and if so, in what capacity?
- What type of sponsorship are you seeking: advertising, blog post, YouTube video, social media activation, etc.
- Is there an authentic connection between my personal brand and the brand that I’m pitching?
- Do I already have a contact at the brand?
- What value do I add to the partnership?
Make sure the brand’s message and aesthetic are in alignment with your own. It’ll be easier “to get a yes” if the collaboration makes sense and is a natural fit, so be sure to highlight that in your pitch.
Knowing who you are reaching out to is also crucial. Is it the VP of public relations or is it the brand’s marketing coordinator? I would suggest reaching out to associates, coordinators, and maybe even interns. They are the ones who are fielding queries day-to-day and are more likely to be your contact with the brand.
Once you’ve done your homework, you can then tailor your pitch to the specific brand, company, publication, or individual. It will add an element of professionalism to your pitch and set you apart from the competition.
2. Keep it short and sweet.
In the Instagram world that we happily live in, no one has neither the time nor the attention span to read long, in-depth paragraphs. Make sure your pitch is no more than a few short paragraphs and avoid using jargon, flowery language, or clichés. You don’t want your email to look spammy or too much like a chore to read. Again, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to say, “yes,” to you.
Here are a few tips to craft your email pitch:
Intro Paragraph: One to two sentences introducing yourself with a link to your site.
Body Paragraph(s): Be very specific about what you’re asking for: whether it's to collaborate on a project, for a press placement, to negotiate your rates, score an invite to a party, secure a job interview, etc.
You’re more likely to get a response if they know exactly what you're asking. Include relevant links to your site, social media channels, press mentions, portfolio, LinkedIn profile, etc.
This is where you should establish your connection as well, reference a personal contact you have or explain why you/your brand are a good fit.
Closing Paragraph: Include a call to action and next steps—make it clear what the next step will be. Do you want to set up a call to discuss or meet in-person? Will you reach back out in a few days if you haven’t heard back? Do they need additional information to make a decision? Make sure these answers are clear and concise. Be sure to have a signature in your email with all of your contact information.
3. Show them what you can do .
You never want to come across as needy or desperate, but as an equally valuable partner looking to connect and collaborate. To show your value, be sure to include a few of your most impressive stats, latest media mentions, featured collaborations, you graduated top of your class, etc.
Back to the example of working with brands on your blog, make sure that the “why” is clear—this applies to any and all pitches. Why should this brand work with you? Maybe it's because you have a strong social media following. Why should they give you a higher fee? Perhaps your engagement rate with audience recently skyrocketed. Why should they feature you in their magazine? Maybe you just landed a brand campaign and you want to promote it.
What if you’re a newbie and don’t have a ton of fancy stats and placements to use in your pitch? No problem. Remember that your unique perspective and aesthetic is valuable, even if it hasn’t been featured in Vogue. A trick to get around this is to create a high-quality example of a collaboration envision with a brand, send them a link to it. Then see if they're open to sending you free products to do more blog and social media posts. Once you deliver consistent, quality work, then you can start to negotiate fees and more likely than not, after you’ve established a strong relationship with the brand, they will offer you compensation. Going forward you can use that project as a selling point in your pitches to other brands.
You can apply the same logic to other types of pitches. For example, if you’re pitching your boss to give you a raise or promotion, be sure to include how you’ve added value to the company in your current position and then proactively offer new ideas on what you could do if given more responsibilities, compensation, and a new fancy title.
Remember, your pitch will be much more persuasive if you come from a place of adding value rather than, “What can you do for me?”
4. Include links, not attachments.
This may seem trivial, but if you want the odds of your email actually being opened to increase significantly, definitely adhere to this rule, especially if it’s a cold email. Links are not only more convenient on both desktop and mobile applications, but it increases the likelihood of someone seeing your content.
People are wary of downloading attachments and emails with attachment files—it could be a virus, or if they're on the go it might gobble up their precious data. Attachment emails are also more likely to end up in a spam folder. So ditch the attachments and opt for links to your website, social media channels, media kit, press placements, or whatever content you want to highlight.
5. Leverage relationships.
Second to doing your research this is the most important point. If you have a contact at a brand or company: USE IT!
Don’t be afraid to pitch friends to connect you with the appropriate people at a brand or company, give you a referral, or use them as a reference in your pitches.
However, make sure that you have their permission before dropping their name and you may even want to send them a draft of your pitch email for approval. Relationships are so important in life and in your career, so be sure to be respectful of them.
6. Create an authentic connection.
This is in conjunction with doing your research. It’s always a nice touch to add a personal tidbit that connects you with the person you're reaching out to, even if you don’t know them personally.
Take a quick second to research their Twitter and Instagram feeds. Do they post a lot about their dog? Ice cream? Ski trips? Whatever they're passionate about, find a way to make a genuine point of connection. Perhaps mention you saw that they went to Spain this summer and you happened to study there in college.
7. Follow-up and follow-through.
Let’s face it, we’re all super busy and even I’m guilty of seeing an email and meaning to get back to it but then days go by and then it’s lost in the shuffle of my inbox. And this is the most powerful lesson I have learned in my career: Silence is not always a no.
Following up is one of the most important aspects of having a successful pitch. I would wait at least 5-7 days before following up. I’ve received the majority of my “yeses” simply because I was 1.) bold enough to reach out in the first place and 2.) I was confident enough to follow-up even when I hadn’t heard back.
However, I would follow-up only 1-2 times. If you don’t hear back after that, chalk it up as their loss and move on to your next target.
Following through is also extremely important. If they ask for your media kit, additional links, or more information, be sure to provide these materials in a timely manner. This is what separates the professionals from the amateurs. Also, if you said in your email that you would follow-up, then make sure you reach back out.
Try out some of these tips for your next pitch if you don't have a strategy already! Do you have any other pitching techniques to add? Let us know in the comments!
Note: This article about email pitches was originally published October 19, 2015. It was updated on January 31, 2017. Connect with Candy on Instagram to learn more fashion, lifestyle, and career tips.