Over the years I’ve pitched ideas and communicated with David Moye, who has a 25-year background in news with a specialty in weird news, which made him a perfect fit for his position as a Staff Writer at Huffington Post Weird News. The Internet and social media have made weird news and products more popular than ever. In addition to his daily news posts on drunken zombies and people arrested for aggressive mopping (yes, that’s mopping), Moye writes five Weird Huffington Post Gift Guides each year, for Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
The Weird Gift Guides are very popular, receiving an average of over three million impressions. Products featured in his Gift Guides often see a jump in sales. “One year I included a $350 wine holder made out of a cow’s hoof. The owner told me he sold 170 of them solely from being featured in my Gift Guide,” notes Moye. That’s almost $60,000 in sales from one placement!
While he looks for very specific types of products (the ones that make you say, “That’s the worst gift ever. I’m getting it for my uncle,” Moye quips, he recently shared some universal pitching tips:
1. The number one mistake product companies make when pitching products is bad product photography. “My guides (and Gift Guides in general) are photo driven. I need cheesy photos that explain what the product does in one shot without writing. It’s best if you can see a person using the product, not just a photo of a product in the package.”
2. Tied for first place in pitching mistakes is pitching a product that’s not a fit for the piece. “Telling me you have a weird product in the first sentence and then cutting and pasting the boiler-plate pitch you send to normal news outlets, with products you describe as “sentimental” or “heartwarming” is an obvious example,” notes Moye. “I want my mouth to drop or my eyebrows to raise when I see a product,” says Moye. “A reaction like WTF is what I’m hoping for.”
3. Don’t penny-pinch on product samples. “It’s a pain in the neck to send back samples. Unless you have a really expensive or one-of-a-kind product, don’t tell me you need the sample back. It’ll make me think twice about including it,” Moye asserts.
4. Follow pitching instructions. Moye often posts on HARO (Help a Reporter Out). He usually includes instructions on how to pitch him. Here is an example from his recent request:
40) Summary: Looking for weird and wacky Christmas gifts Name: David Moye The Huffington Post Category: Lifestyle and Fitness Media Outlet: The Huffington Post Deadline: 7:00 PM EST – 4 October Query: Every year, I do a guide of weird and wacky Christmas gifts for Huffington Post. Help me make this year’s guide the weirdest. 1. Please review my previous weird Christmas gift guides. You can find them by going to the HuffPost site and doing this: “David Moye” + “weird Christmas gifts.” Last year’s guide included a crime scene terrarium and a Santa Claus costume for hamsters. Help me make this guide even weirder 2. Good photos are crucial. I prefer photos showing humans using the product (the cheesier the better). WARNING: HARO strips out photos so let me know if you have good photos. 3. If your product only qualifies as “quirky” or “unusual,” don’t pitch — helpful keywords for me include “weird,” “crazy,” bizarre,” “stupid,” “asinine,” “wacky” and “delusional client.” 4. Send complete product detail in the body of the email. Don’t send only the link and say “click on this.” 5. My gift guides average 1 million page views. 6. Yeah, that’s a lot. 7. No, I don’t anyone at another section who is working on a normal gift guide. 8. No, I’m not interested in interviewing your client about the product. As you know from the extensive research you’ve done, you are aware it’s a photo-driven gallery with a few pithy observations.
In a typical HARO request, Moye will receive 100 pitches, “Most of the people who pitch don’t read these instructions, which is why only about 10 of the pitches contain products that are viable for the Gift Guide.”
Last but not least, I’ll end with my favorite answer from David to one of my questions: 5. What wording do you like to see in Subject Lines? “I’m actually familiar with your work and didn’t get your name off a mailing list.” (He’s still waiting to get that one!) We hope these tips lead to more successful pitching and media placements. Thanks to David for an entertaining and informative interview! You can check out his posts at the Huffington Post here.
Oh, and if you’re interested in more information on Holiday Gift Guide P.R., you can get it here.