One of the benefits I most enjoy about being a contributor to Entrepreneur.com is having the opportunity to speak with entrepreneurs and business leaders with whom I can share stories, anecdotes, resources and tips. Many times I end up using their amazing stories and advice in this column.
My passion for speaking with others has also led to receiving hundreds of story pitches every month. Unfortunately, with the volume of emails and other commitments, it is impossible to keep up with the emails and a great many go unread and unanswered.
After speaking with other colleagues, it turns out this is a very common issue.
While I really enjoy receiving connection requests and pitches from talented entrepreneurs, a vast majority of the pitches never get read in their entirely or responded to because the email and story pitch falls flat. In fact, I am certain that most are just "form letters" sent to a random email list I have somehow landed on.
The emails that do get my attention -- and in fact have led to ongoing collaborations and even friendships -- all follow a simple pattern.
A great deal of effort and consideration goes into article headlines -- thanks to a great Entrepreneur staff that helps with this. The headline is what draws a reader’s attention to an article and sets the tone for the reader’s experience.
As you craft your pitch, consider how the contributor will approach the story. Pay as much attention to the headline of your story and include it in your pitch or even in the subject line of the email.
Because nobody has time to read a novel in every email, keep your pitch sweet and simple (KISS). Above all else, your pitch needs to be readable and easy to consume and should consider the five essential elements that respect the contributor’s limited time.
Form letters and email lists may work in some cases, but emails that make it through my spam filter are those that comment on another article or mention a common interest. You should also do your research and make sure the contributor’s writing style, topics and personal opinions are in line with you and your mission.
Once you have the contributor’s attention, close the deal with the pitch. While your story of success and awesomeness may be great (for you at least), it needs to resonate with readers. The best way to do this is to tell a compelling story and add value to the lives of the readers.
When crafting your pitch, remember this simple acronym: MOVE.
Your story needs to be relevant and have meaning. You and your company may be awesome, but why should the reader care? Focus on challenges you faced, obstacles overcome, adversity faced down.
More important, while we all love a great success story, we also appreciate hearing how others have gone through similar struggles. Consider how you have failed and the lessons you learned along the way.
There are more than enough articles that cover the topics leadership and failure, and while those articles draw eyeballs, they often tell the same story and get lost in the news cycle. To get your story to stand out and shared, find an angle that is fresh, unique and does not appear twenty times when you search for the topic on the contributor’s website.
Entrepreneurial stories are great -- entrepreneurial stories that add value to a reader’s life are outstanding. In addition to your story, can you offer tips, resources and advice to other entrepreneurs based on your experience? Give the readers a reason to print your article or make it an everyday read in their journal.
I personally like to read and write articles that entertain as much as inform readers. For the most part, the crafting of the story, style and tone of the article will depend on the contributor, but you can help make the process easier by finding an entertaining angle to tell your story.
There are plenty of places to get your story told online. To get your story heard, however, it needs to resonate with readers and encourage them to share and publish on your behalf. Ultimately, original stories that have meaning and entertain and ultimately add value to the reader’s life will have the highest impact.
So, what is your story?