The ultimate guide to pitching infographics to journalists & bloggers
In the last few years, the concept of content marketing has skyrocketed.
Don’t just take my word for it; take a look at Google Trends, which shows the number of searches for the term “content marketing” exploded around mid-2012 and continues to grow through 2013.
Content marketing is a form of marketing that puts an emphasis on creating great content—useful and informative blog posts, beautiful imagery, videos, podcasts and more that will garner shares and links naturally because of its greatness. It’s the stuff that gets people talking.
Content marketing has given rise to one type of content in particular that had been basically unknown before this craze took off. I’m talking, of course, about infographics. You’ve definitely seen them, even if you’re unfamiliar with the term. These long, tall graphics packed with statistics, charts, maps and graphs can be incredibly awesome when done well.
Well-done infographics have been featured on sites as big as The Huffington Post and Yahoo Finance; Mashable, one of the most well-known tech blogs, publishes them all the time. When they’re featured on huge sites like this, they can even go on to get thousands of shares and millions of views.
But even the best infographic in the world can crash and burn if it’s not pitched to the right people in the right way. Read on below for a detailed look at how to successfully pitch and land an infographic in your company or client's dream publication or website.
Choosing the Right Topic
The perfect pitch starts well before you start pitching. Ideally, your infographic will be related to your industry but about a topic popular enough to go viral. An infographic about your brand will never gain much traction and will most likely be viewed as an advertisement. On the other hand, pick something completely unrelated to your industry and people won’t associate it with you.
How can you strike a happy balance?
As long as you can research and produce the graphic quickly enough, piggybacking off of an already popular topic is a great way to gain traction quickly, especially if no one has produced an infographic about it yet. One of my favorite ways to find a timely topic is to search Google News for terms related to my industry.
For example, Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan and Macaulay Culkin, child stars who have recently been suffering from problems related to addiction and possible insanity, all made headlines recently for their various shenanigans. Clarity Way, a rehab center, seized this opportunity to create a stunning infographic about “The Curse of the Child Star.”
If you come up with a unique topic that is related to your industry but you’re not really sure it has the potential to go viral, it doesn’t hurt to do some investigative work. Search Twitter or Topsy to see if content on the subject is being published and shared. You can even write to some of your favorite bloggers and ask if the topic is something they would be interested in. If you get a lukewarm response, ditch it and go for something else, before you sink the resources into creating it.
Choosing the Right Publication
You’ve put together a brilliant infographic, and now it’s time to share it with the world! This infographic is of interest to anyone and everyone. I can’t think of a publication out there that wouldn’t enjoy it! Time to put a mass email list together and promote the hell out of this thing!
Whoa there, partner. Hold it right there.
There is not an infographic in existence, and there never will be, that will be universally enjoyed by everyone.
It is crucial to know your audience. There are probably certain subsets of people who will be highly entertained by or extremely interested in your infographic. If it’s an infographic about app stores, the typical tech blog audience will probably be interested. If it’s an infographic about oil, it may be of interest to environmental blogs. If it’s a nitty-gritty infographic about the construction industry, though, big news sites are probably going to delete your pitch the second it hits their inboxes. It’s just not the right focus.
Think about their audience. News sites are always looking for fresh content that will enthrall their readers, and get visitors sharing and exploring deeper into their site. Does the mere idea of your infographic about plumbing on the main page of The New York Times sound hilariously inappropriate? Then you shouldn’t bother sending the email.
Sometimes bigger isn’t always better, either. A huge publication like CNN gets hundreds, if not thousands, of PR pitches and story suggestions per day. Meanwhile, a plumbing industry blog might not be the most high-traffic site out there, but their audience would almost definitely enjoy your infographic. A smaller circulation with the right audience is more valuable than a larger publication with an entirely uninterested audience.
Pitching the Right People
When you find your publication, don’t immediately pitch your infographic to the editor-in-chief. I’ve pitched dozens of infographics to hundreds of sites, and I can confidently say that an infographic pitch will always have more success when sent to a staff writer or section editor. Writers are always looking for new and interesting things to write about, and the topic of your infographic may be exactly what they are seeking.
That said, you can’t just look at the masthead and select a name at random. Most publications with a large editorial staff have writers with specific “beats” – writers who specifically cover a certain topic or geographic area. If you send your health infographic to a political writer, they may be nice enough to redirect you or pass it on – but most likely, they’ll just delete it. They have too much on their plate to do the investigative work you should have done to find the right person to pitch.
Search the blog or publication for related articles. Who wrote them? Your ideal prospect has written a number of articles for the site, and has written recently. Your infographic will go nowhere if you pitch it to someone who was just a one-time writer or who moved to another publication a year and a half ago.
Build a list. I like to, at the bare minimum, record the following:
- The name of the publication
- The writer’s full name
- The link to the writer’s “author” page on the site
- Their contact information (including Twitter handle)
- The link to an article they wrote recently related to the infographic topic
- Any relatable details about the writer that I can reference in my pitch (“I noticed you went to Kenyon College. Me too! Go Lords and Ladies!”) – use this sparingly, don’t come off as a creeper
No, the list isn’t so I can mail merge and be done with it. I am simply gathering details into one organized place (in my case, an Excel spreadsheet) so that I can be as efficient as possible.
Writing the Perfect Pitch
No matter how awesome your infographic is, nobody will look at it if you sound like a robot. Personalization, simplicity, and usefulness are the three components of the perfect pitch.
Personalize it. Never ever send your pitch as a mass email. Address the email to the blogger or journalist, by name, and make it clear why you are emailing them specifically:
- “I loved the article you did last week about the over-prescribing of painkillers – it’s crazy to think of how much medicine we go through as a nation. In fact, I recently put together this infographic about just that…”
- “I know you frequently write about addiction and forming habits, so you were the first person I thought of when I was putting together this graphic…”
Yes, personalizing your emails takes a ton more time than building a list and shooting out a mail merge. But the results will be worth it. Remember, you are pitching big publications. If just one of them publishes your graphic, it will suddenly be in front of hundreds or even thousands of readers. Big news sites syndicate to other sites, so most likely your infographic will get pushed to a number of other news sites. These contacts are valuable, so make your emails count.
Pro tip: I like to address the email to the journalist or blogger in the subject line. “Hey Drew – really appreciated the behavioral addiction article” is a lot more likely to draw their eye as a subject line than “addiction infographic” is. I tend to try and make my subject lines funny or stand out from the rest of their inbox. Remember, the subject line is the first thing that they will see – and if it’s too boring, it may be the only thing they see, as they hover their cursor over the delete button.
Keep it simple. Journalists have strict deadlines and don’t have a lot of time to answer all the emails sent to them each day. Don’t send them an essay about how great your graphic is; just entice them to click a link and see the greatness for themselves. Even if you are pitching the most beautifully-designed infographic in the world, it will go nowhere if nobody feels the desire to see it for themselves.
I like to pull out the most compelling fact from the graphic. “Did you know that the U.S. makes up 5 percent of the world’s population, but we consume 75 percent of the world’s medicine?” Short. Interesting. Simple.
Make it useful. This email is not about how awesome you are-it’s about how this infographic will make this journalist or blogger’s life easier. Could he or she use your graphic as a jumping-off point for a fascinating article? Does it simplify something that would be hard to understand just from text? Does it pull together research in a way that has never been done before? These writers will not use your infographic as a favor to you; they will use it because they need valuable content that gets people talking.
- “You know what you haven’t written about that I would like to see? Something about the difference between a bad habit and an addiction. And I’ve got just the infographic to go with it…”
- “Your celebrity faux pas column is always at the top of my weekly reading list, so when you didn’t post anything last week I was a little worried. If you’re having trouble getting to the column each week, I might be able to help you! I put together this infographic…”
Keeping in Touch
You did it! You pitched some journalists or bloggers successfully and your infographic made it into a big publication. Great job! You could just send a thank you email. (You should definitely send a thank you email.) Or you could build your relationship and eventually grow a network of contacts at big publications who know you are a reliable source of quality content.
After the writer publishes my infographic, I add them to a private Twitter list of mine called “Infographic Publishers.” I check this list frequently and try to participate in conversations and share their posts. By keeping my name at the forefront of my previous publishers’ minds, they are much more likely to take to future pitches I send their way.
Of course, you can go overboard with this and come off as annoying at best and a stalker at worst. Strike the right balance. In addition, don’t spam your contacts to no end with infographics they would have little or no interest in just because they accepted the first one. Strive to make each infographic you pitch them in the future as related and useful to them as the first. You can even bounce ideas off of them for infographics you’re thinking about creating.
Having a network of close contacts at big publications is an ambitious goal, but it’s not entirely out of your reach, especially if you follow the advice in this guide.
What has been your biggest infographic win? Do you have any other tips for pitching and landing infographics? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
Adrienne Erin is an outreach specialist at WebpageFX who frequently pitches infographics to journalists and bloggers. She has written for Content Marketing Institute, Search Engine People, and SiteProNews. Catch up with her on Twitter to see more of her work.