Freelancing for a Living

How to Write a Successful Pitch Letter

Written by Kristin Marquet for Gaebler Ventures

Your story is incredible. You want to tell the media, so you start out by sending pitch letters. However, you do not receive any responses because you learn that your pitch letter was not written correctly.

You have been in business for quite some time and have been featured and interviewed in local newspapers.

However, as you scan through your favorite business magazine, you wonder how you can write for the publication and be paid for it. Essentially, you want to turn your story idea into a paid writing opportunity.

The best way to turn a writing opportunity into a paid writing opportunity is to research the tone and style of the publication, read at least two back issues to get a sense of what the publication is looking for and what topics are covered. After you have thoroughly researched the publication, search for the appropriate media contact via Google or the Writer's Weekly directory (requires a paid subscription). If you are interested in writing for the Style Section, you would not send a pitch letter to the Food Editor. You would find the right style or fashion editor and write to them.

Email pitch - The subject line of the email you send is the most important element of your pitch letter as that is what is going to make the editor open the email and read the entire letter. Keep the subject line short and engaging. Keep it to a maximum of four words.

Media Contact - Research the correct media contact's name. You should be able to find the right contact in a Google search or by searching If an editor receives a generic pitch letter, he/she will throw it out immediately.

Introduction - Open with an attention grabbing statement. This is will be the hook. Keep this paragraph to five sentences long.

Body - The body of your letter needs to convince the editor to email or call you. When you are drafting the body text, make sure to answer the following questions: Why does the editor/reporter care about what you have to say? Does your topic fit into the publication? Is it timely? Does it add value to the publication? The body is a great place to use quotes or samples from your article. The body will essentially outline the details of your subject. Keep the body to two paragraphs, preferably one.

Body - In the third paragraph, convince the editor to hire you to write an article. State that you are the most qualified writer to cover this story angle. List your educational and professional credentials. This is your space to sell yourself.

Closing - Make sure that you include your contact information – name, address, email address, website, and phone number because you do not want to have to make the media work to find your information.

Extra Tips:

  • An email pitch letter should not be longer than four paragraphs.
  • Use the same tone and style as the publication
  • Each paragraph should be no longer than three to five short sentences. However, the shorter you can keep the letter, the better.

Kristin Marquet will be receiving her MBA from Harvard University in Fall of 2010. She has worked in the marketing and public relations field for over 10 years.

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