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The Basics

How do you get someone to listen to you in the first place? How do you establish credibility, capture interest, and convey the immediate relevance of your point of view – quickly and decisively? Pitching can happen in lots of ways, but very often it is done by email.

An effective email pitch answers these basic questions:

  • Why now? What’s the news hook? Why is this worth reading at this moment?
  • So what? Why should people care?
  • Why me? Why am I the best one to write this piece?

A pitch should also include:

  • Your idea in a few lines
  • Your credentials – only those that are relevant
  • The finished piece pasted below your pitch
  • Your contact information

Aspects of a successful pitch:

  • Timely
  • Well written
  • Brief and clear
  • Conveys expertise
  • Unexpected point of view

Follow Up: If the editor responds

Thank your editor. Even if they said “no.” Remember that “no” can be the beginning of a conversation that can eventually lead to “yes.” If they published you, thank them not for showcasing you but for giving space to the ideas and issues.

Follow Up: If there is no response

Have a time limit. If your idea has a very short shelf life, you might give an editor a day or less to respond; if it’s evergreen, a week or two or more. Then send a follow-up email to the editor saying that you’d still like to run your piece in their publication, but since the piece is timely, if you don’t hear from them by the end of the day (week, whatever) you will assume they have passed, and you’ll be submitting your op-ed elsewhere.

Note: Most national newspapers will not consider your piece if you submit to more than one paper at the same time.

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