Email is the easiest and most common way to contact a publication, program or site to which you’d like to contribute. But the quick and casual medium of communication belies the thinking you should invest in crafting your pitch.
Editors and producers are busy people who apply established criteria to what they publish or program, so in one or two sentences only, your email introduction needs to:
demonstrate why your commentary is relevant now
concisely summarize your argument (thesis statement), and
establish that you have an informed opinion on the issue
Then you want to paste your completed commentary immediately beneath your pitch in the email message box, along with your contact information.
If the stars are aligned, you might get a response within 24 hours, saying “yes, we want to use your piece.” But that doesn’t always happen, for many often unpredictable reasons. A “no thanks, not this time” response can still be the start of a relationship that leads to future opportunities – especially if you’re gracious and effectively demonstrate the relevance of your expertise.
If you hear nothing, follow up yourself. After a day or a week, depending on how time sensitive your piece is, you can leave a voice mail message or email again to say: “I’d still like to see this commentary in your pages, but because it’s timely, if I don’t hear from you by 5 pm (or Monday morning, or…) , I’ll assume you’re passing on it and I can submit it elsewhere.”
If and when your piece does appear in the paper, a quick note to express appreciation for the space they devoted to the issue or ideas is always appreciated.