Ignored pitches and proposals, in my experience, tend to sting more than those that get rejected. And, while it gets easier to deal with the ghostings the longer you spend actively pitching (after 25 years as a self-employed interior stylist and art director I don’t spend much time mulling over the odd pitch that goes ignored anymore) the goal is for them to happen less frequently.
Rejections, although sometimes painful, often come with feedback that we can use to alter our approaches in the future. These notes help us to refine our pitching technique and knowledge of the brands that we hope to work with so that, eventually, we might see success. Silence, however, just leaves us with lots of questions.
Unfortunately, while it’s not ideal that a brand might ignore a pitch, it’s a very common occurrence. So, to help you learn how to pitch, I thought I’d share six reasons your pitches and proposals might be being ignored. Some are small things you can tweak in no time, others are completely out of your hands.
Need a little more guidance writing email pitches? Check out Make Your Pitch, my short course designed to help creatives learn exactly how to pitch, which includes examples and downloads. At £49.99, it’s a bargain, if I do say so myself.
How to pitch: 6 reasons why your email pitches are being ignored – and what to do about it
1. You haven’t sent or addressed the pitch to the right person
There are two elements to this point. The first, a practical one; if you haven’t sent your pitch to the correct person, it might’ve been missed altogether. The second, a more subjective faux pas; not addressing the receiver of the pitch by the right name, or misspelling their name. The latter can appear lazy, copy-and-pasted, and doesn’t communicate any eagerness to work with that specific person or brand.
Search LinkedIn or call the brand to find out who you should direct pitches to deal with both issues – and always double-check the spelling of the receiver’s name.
2. The subject line was underwhelming
If you aren’t already acquainted with the person on the receiving end of your pitch, then this is your very first introduction. Is the receiver going to be intrigued enough to open your email if they’re underwhelmed by the subject? Honestly? Probably not.
Keep it concise, personal, accurate and compelling, and make it clear that the email contains a pitch for them.
3. Your pitch reads like a round-robin
What those in charge of commissioning really want to glean from a pitch is why, specifcally, you think your idea would work for them. How is it relevant to their customers/clients/readers? How does it align with their brand values and mission? And, importantly, why are you the right person to see this idea into fruition.
If you fail to address these points in your pitch and, worse, fail to name the brand and person you’re trying to work with, your email looks as though it could’ve been BCC’d to an entire list of people from all manner of companies. Don’t overdo it – but make sure the recipient of your pitch knows that it was meant only for them.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t send the same idea to multiple brands if it gets rejected or goes ignored, just that you should rewrite with the next recipient in mind.
4. You didn’t provide any examples of your work
If the recipient of your pitch hasn’t worked with you before, you’re going to need to demonstrate that you’re capable of fulfilling your proposal – and to a high standard. The best way to do this, is by sharing a portfolio of your previous work.
Ideally, the work will have some relevance to the project you’re pitching so the person doing the commissioning can draw parallells between your previous work and your pitch. If it doesn’t, it’s worth including a couple of additional sentences within your email explaning your skills and experience, and how they’ll bring to life the project you’re proposing (seriously; just a couple of sentences, not paragraphs).
Link them to your website (be sure to keep your online portfolio updated) or social channels, if you share your work there. Only ever attach small items to emails so you don’t risk clogging the recipient’s inbox.
5. You didn’t end the email with a CTA
Calls-to-action get the conversation off the ground, even if a pitch isn’t commissioned this time. If you don’t signal that you’re expecting a response, they may just not bother.
Try asking how the brand partners with people of your profession, or for their thoughts on your idea, and go from there.
6. Something else that has absolutely nothing to do with you
There are countless reasons someone may ignore your pitch that are completely out of your hands. Perhaps they’re on holiday, or their inbox is so full of pitches they simply don’t have time to respond to anything that’s not a yes. They may have no budget for freelancers, or they might’ve just commissioned someone to work on something similar, or the timing might not be right to proceed with your pitch, and they don’t see the value in sharing this information with you.
Regardless, try not to take it personally when a pitch is ignored. Pick yourself up, and pitch elsewhere instead.
If you enjoyed reading this article, check out my 3 tips for refining your brand as a creative business owner, and my advice for marketing your brand with no budget.