March 27, 2001
How To

Ron Lieber, Senior Writer FAST COMPANY, Shares the Best PR Pitch Letter He's Ever Received

SUMMARY: When FAST COMPANY'S Ron Lieber, showed B-to-B BQ Show attendees a copy of the best PR pitch letter he's ever gotten, we thought you'd like to take a look at it too, even though it's not strictly online marketing related.
Lieber received the letter in May 1999 from a headhunter hoping for some ink in the magazine. It arrived in a plain white, business-sized, hand-addressed envelope with no return address. Lieber noted that if the envelope had carried the return address of a PR firm he might have been much less likely to open it, because as he says, "How important can news be if you snail mailed it?"

Here's the text of the typed letter, which only took up one side of one piece of paper.


(Strong opening to catch reader's attention)
Love your magazine and read it all the time. Ridden a sled lately?

(Talk about person to gain greater interest)
Last September you jumped FORTUNE'S ship and came to FAST COMPANY. (We headhunters can find out about stuff like this.) You thought about it, met with the top dogs at FC, dug the energy, cool working environment and hopefully they wooed you with a few more shillings. FORTUNE begged you to stay, major guilt trip, but you swallowed hard: adios. Maybe you found the job through a headhunter, or word of mouth networking. Point being: you felt good about the job without any cutting edge, webinfohyperlinkE-this/, test/retest lingo to make it feel right in your gut. You ultimately took the job because of intuition. Some things never change.

(Get to the point of the query)
My firm is not cutting edge. Our email program sputters and our Web page has been under construction as long as our Chicago Cubs have been "rebuilding." We hunt sales, marketing and management talent nationwide for cutting edge and average corporations, pure and simple. Yes, we do have some clever and unique ways to get to the core of an interviewee however, we've yet to find a substitute for good old-fashioned "Interview the dude or dudette face-to-face" then decide whether to send them on to the client. Profile testing is 50/50 for even the best tests and it takes time and bucks to administer. So, we rely on combined 75 years of search work experience between us, check our notes, practice our excuses, just in case, and move on. So far, so great. We've succeeded for nearly 25 years in an industry with more turnover than your local Starbucks.

(The invite and the close)
Seriously, we do have a fresh view and working environment compared to many of the stuffed shirt search firms. Come and see how the other half thrives in our world surrounded by the pressure and puzzlement of adapting technology into an instinct-based business. We're a 30 minute drive from O'Hare International Airport. You can experience our Sled test, the Chicago Cub Gallery; the Wine Cellar Office, and see what the inside of the blandest Deli in America looks like -- for real!

(Enclose Free Offer)
Great Italian place nearby for lunch too. On me!

(Strong closing)
Best regards,

Russell Riendeau
Partner, Thomas Lyle & Company

(The P.S. always gets read, researchers say) Enclosed is a bio on myself and some ideas to entice you and practice my writing skills. "

Why did Lieber like the above note so much that he's still carrying it around in his coat pocket after almost two years? He was most impressed with the personal touches that revealed it wasn't a form letter. He says no journalist wants to get a pitch that everybody else is also getting. After all, many journalists' reputations are based on coming up with exclusive news and unique story angles. Lieber also noted that yes, he is a Cubs fan.

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