Few years ago, I had my own column at Inc. Inc sold my email address to some company named Meltwater that has since distributed it to every bad PR company in the Western Hemisphere. No matter how many requests I make to be removed (and how many years go by that I am no longer an Inc columnist), I remain on their listserv.
Which means I get delightfully terrible press releases and pitches daily. And yes, of course, I respond with notes.
Pitches are not a difficult thing to get right if you can internalize this one thing: It’s not about you. The end. That’s it. That’s the “secret.”
Tell the pitchee what’s in it for them.
When I pitched The Observer, Thrive Global, Copyhackers, Thought Catalog, and Business Insider, it was the same pitch each time: Here’s why your readers will like, click, and share this article. Also, here are a few extra things I did to make your job easier based on the 15 minutes I spent Googling what you usually publish and the approach you generally take to these topics. Would you like to publish this piece? Sincerely, Margo.
That’s it. THAT IS IT.
The “mass email” has been dead for decades and yet we can’t seem to help ourselves – we love being lazy (like not researching who we are emailing) and playing numbers games (if you send good-enough-stock-copy to 50k people, and 1% of people bite, you had a decent day). And I guess the joke’s on me since these firms (somehow) still exist, so someone is biting. But I digress.
No one cares about you, they care about what’s in it for them. <— The “secret.”
Approximately 0% of the pitches I receive tell me anything about why I should care or how this offer helps me or my readers. And 100% of them claim to be fans of my work, despite never having read any of it. Good times.
Anyway, one of the bad PR pitches I got came from Flexjobs.
I saw your recent article and just wanted to offer FlexJobs and Remote.co as potential resources to you around remote job topics. As leaders in remote work, our goal is to help employees, job seekers, and employers make the most out of remote work not only during the pandemic but also in creating better workplaces in the future.
I will spare you the copy teardown here. The approach is a fine one for stock copy that you’re sending to hundreds of thousands of email addresses you purchased and don’t have time nor incentive to personalize. Bland, but fine.
This PR pro included a few links to their content and since the I love future of work stuff, I clicked and signed up for Flexjobs, so I could see how it worked. So I guess her bad pitch wasn’t so bad because now I’m emailing you about it. DAMMIT. (like I said, good enough copy converts. Especially if you have a Purple Cow.)
(Let’s not lose the thread here: Purple Cow Is More Powerful Than Copy. In case you were wondering. I say that as a lover of copy, a writer of words, and a person who’s had the privilege of being behind a ton of campaigns.)
Anyway, I signed up and now they send me emails.
One of those emails was the 100 Most Surprising Remote Work Jobs. And SURPRISING they were! My favorite is the Mixology and Bartending Instructor, but there’s also a food safety microbiologist (Ph.D. required), Northern Mine Geotechnical Specialist, an Instagram Specialist, a Fantasy Sports Specialist, and a HOME STYLIST. A FULLY REMOTE HOME STYLIST.
Y’all, I’ve been cynical about our ability to transition as a culture to the new connection (and information) economy, but remote bartenders and home stylists are next-level hopeful. It tells us those who *swore* they needed to be IRL to do their job have now learned that’s not true. Or, if it is, they had to adapt anyway.
This is great news for the gender pay gap, for one. The gender pay gap disappears in industries that offer flexible schedules and remote work. So, that’s a VICTORY.
It’s also great news for those in marginalized communities, as removing geographic barriers provides access to a ton of previously inaccessible opportunities.
It also means (for now) the end of bad commutes, which you might not think is a big deal, but is a very big deal. Commuting is one of the worst things for your health, relationships, mental health, kids, life, and marriage. There’s a million studies on this, but somehow we still cling to the opposite of science in the name of hustle culture.
Anyway, I laughed and smiled when I saw that this mixologist bartender instructor thing was a legit opportunity. I love the future of work. I love how creative we’re getting. I love that despite all the doom and gloom there are a ton of folks still hiring.
EVEN FOR FANTASY SPORTS SPECIALISTS (sports vocab required, so sadly, I don’t qualify)
You’ve heard me critique the American Dream, and I stand by my criticisms of the version of the American Dream we are sold. BUT these are moves in the right direction.
Along with this.
To the future,
PS: Also this. This is a hilarious and heartwarming TikTok my sister sent me of a “Texan Christian hillbilly” standing shirtless in a pond talking about how taking personal responsibility for your mistakes, including systemically, is an excellent representation of rural community and the most Christian thing we can do: take personal responsibility and do better. I’m not a Christian, but I am a native Texan and between this guy, Queen Bae, and Brene Brown, I’m starting to feel that state pride again. STARTING. We got a ways to go y’all…
PPS: A little more context on that link to Freedom U because it is SO cool (and just got covered by CNN). I need to brag that a former ethics professor who keeps up with me told me about it and the Executive Director was his doctoral student. Anyway, the idea is so cool AND AND ANDDDDD the location is secret. Sometimes we don’t fuck everything up y’all, sometimes we do better.