During my first job as a writer, I vividly remember those times when my superiors would assign topics and themes that I had to write about. In a shared spreadsheet, we were able to monitor our tasks, tick them off when done, then move on to the next.
When your job entails churning out content specific for an establishment, brand, product, or event, it can definitely get tricky. You have to come up with monthly articles or posts that cater to every need, objective, and preference of the client.
Often we would ensure that quota was constantly hit by plotting a timetable and deciding on the topics ourselves. We would then hand them out to the writers or ask them to choose which ones they are most comfortable writing about.
However, as I grew older and gained more experience, I began to notice a whole new kind of process when it came to content strategy and planning: the art of pitching.
Sure, deciding on behalf of your writers and following your own spreadsheet down to a tee helps you get things done in an organized way. But have you ever stopped to think that perhaps your crew of writers has a lot more to share? Perhaps they are bursting at the seams and itching to share their story pitches with the client.
Pitching Fosters Creativity
While planning ahead helps you stay on track, there’s also such a thing as ‘over planning’ when laying out ideas for content. Contently cites The New York Times and Wired as some of the world’s heavyweight publishers who don’t do as much editorial planning as you might think, as doing so may leave far less room for creativity and improvisation.
Pitching allows writers to decide on topics that are timely and up-to-date, with angles they’re passionate about. You as the editor and planner may not be able to see what they can see. It gives them room to freely choose and craft stories.
When I started adapting to this process, I found that it was a fun way to produce content. It also gave me a bigger sense of accomplishment as I got to take the creative reins of the article from start to finish.
Allowing your people to make pitches doesn’t mean that they’ll no longer have to adhere to certain themes, guidelines, and topics. Given the boundaries for each client, it still challenges them to think outside the box and helps them get more involved in the process as opposed to passively receiving structured assignments.
At C2, this is an effective practice that every writer follows. Pitching is done on a platform and account managers – or in some cases the client – gets to approve, decline, or give feedback. When my pitches get approved then it’s time for a happy dance.
How Do You Create Kickass Pitches?
A tad intimidating at first, aiming to understand what is best for the client’s audience is what your boss would appreciate. Remember, you shouldn’t necessarily think about what’s valuable for the client per se, but instead what’s potentially valuable for the reader. In that sense, it’s sort of like an exercise in empathy. Sites like Moz and the Content Marketing Institute have shared a few tips on how to create killer content marketing pitches.
Research and identify topic areas
As Moz puts it, “You aren’t ready to pitch until you understand what else is out there.” Writing a piece on a topic you are not familiar with can be stressful, especially when you’re chasing deadlines and KPIs. But take the time to do research. Browse for sites that have structured an article with a similar topic and try to produce a different angle.
Make your pitch relatable
Content Marketing Institute suggests, “Instead of crafting a pitch to ‘the boss,’ think about him/her as a person with personal interests and needs, as well as business goals. Try to find ‘common ground’ topics that your boss is interested in, and relate them back to content marketing.” Don’t forget to think about the audience as well. Will they be able to relate to the topics you’re pitching? Is it something that they’ll even bother reading?
Does it reflect the company’s goals?
Your boss could start asking questions about your content, such as its relevance to the business and how customers can benefit from it. Make sure that you’re prepared with answers.
Pitches are all about preparation. It’s not an easy feat to convince the higher-ups of your ideas, but it’s always worth a try and the experience helps you learn. Once you’re confident about what you’ve created, you’ll be able to present a persuasive pitch and hold your own despite potential objections.