Content Lessons from the Trenches: Insights from Enduring Bad Podcast Pitches

In this episode, host Britney Gardner discusses the lessons she learned about content from bad podcast pitches. She emphasizes the importance of focusing on how one can help the audience and not just promoting oneself. She also highlights the need for pitch research and avoiding asking the host to do unnecessary work–which translates directly into how you craft your content plan to engage with your audience.

Listen in as we cover:

  • The challenge of asking the audience to give their time to consume content
  • The connection between bad podcast pitches and creating better content
  • Understanding the audience’s perspective and needs when creating content
  • Shifting the focus from self-centered content to content that helps the audience
  • The importance of providing value and a unique experience for the audience

listen to this content

Listen to this episode on:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Amazon Music | How To Subscribe

Highlights in this episode:

  • 00:01:28 Learned and sharing gems for better content.
  • 00:05:18 Pitching podcasts requires thorough research and preparation.
  • 00:08:31 Creating curiosity, trying to engage but unsuccessful.
  • 00:11:04 Lost trust in podcast episode, sad association.
  • 00:16:10 CEO seeks podcast opportunity on addiction treatment.
  • 00:18:47 Engage with content where and how consumed.

Making Sense of Bad Podcast Pitches: Learning, Creating Better, and Marketing Ploys

Have you ever received a bad podcast pitch? You’re not alone. In fact, it has become such a common occurrence that it has turned into an unwanted daily routine for many of us. But instead of just ranting about it on social media, let’s take a moment to reflect and learn from these experiences.

receiving bad podcast pitches

In this blog post, we’ll explore the valuable lessons we can glean from bad pitches and how they can help us create better content. And let’s not forget about the marketing ploys that sometimes creep into our inboxes – we’ll dive into the similarities between these tactics and bad podcast pitches – and how we can learn to create better content from each of these.

It’s disheartening to admit, but the truth is that the majority of podcast pitches we receive fall into the category of “bad.” They are self-centered and fail to consider the interests of both parties involved. It’s a one-sided interaction that often leaves everyone dissatisfied.

Making Sense of Bad Podcast Pitches 

Let’s talk about bad podcast pitches – we all had our fair share, and I certainly had mine. Recently, it suddenly became an unwanted part of my daily routine, as I’m receiving three to four pitches every day. Yes, you’ve heard that right. Daily. So, what can we do about it? Let’s dig in.

Learning from the Bad

Amidst all these frustrating aspects, it’s important not to forget that there’s always something to be learned. And it’s one of the main reasons that prompted me to share this with you today, moving away from ranting on Instagram stories to actually addressing the issue here. Because, after all, learning from these experiences can help us create better content and hopefully, lessen the number of bad pitches out there, while also lessening bad content out there.

Marketing Ploys: Seeing Through the Façade 

Whether we’re in marketing or not, we all experience marketing ploys on a daily basis. From cars suspiciously prominent in TV shows to meticulously placed brand logos, it’s the subliminal advertising we encounter on a near-daily basis that some of us have grown to decipher.

I recently decided to unsubscribe from an art course company I’ve purchased from for my kids–even though I planned to buy from them again. But when I went to unsubscribe I had to log in and click through multiple windows to finish the action – leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth. The distress it sparked within me was too significant to ignore, and it ignited the realization – this is so similar to the problem with bad podcast pitches.

soloish entrepreneur creating uncommon content

How Bad Podcast Pitches Relate to Bad Content

Regrettably, I can say that approximately 95 to 98 percent of all the podcast pitches I receive are bad. These pitches are overly self-centric, completely neglecting the win-win aspect that makes any interaction worthwhile. It’s all take and no give, which often leaves one, if not both parties, dissatisfied.

There are two main issues with bad pitches:

  1. It’s all about them, not how they can help my audience or me
  2. They’re asking me to do more work than them

Both of these issues are just as prevalent in content online as they are in bad podcast guest pitches.

To avoid becoming part of the problem, let’s explore how to fix each of these issues in both content and pitches.

When Your Content Is All About Your Needs, Not Your Audience’s

The biggest (obvious) issue I see in podcast pitches is that they’re all about the speaker. The average pitch I receive starts like this:

Bigwig A is so very accomplished. He does this and that. He’s been published in x, y, and z. And your audience absolutely needs to hear about this amazing endeaver.

The vast majority of pitches start in this manner.

What if, instead of starting with why you’re good at what you do, you started with an acknowledgment of the work the podcast is already doing, and point out a gap in the current podcast content. Then point out how you can fill it to help both the host and the audience with that knowledge gap.

Will you still include your skills or accolades? Sure. In context, they’ll now make sense. But done this way, it’s not all about you – it’s about how you can help them.

Key Takeaway:

You can talk about yourself and your services–please do!–but keep it in the context of how it will help your audience first.

How To Create Audience-Focused Content

Creating content, whether it’s long-form video or a short LinkedIn text post, needs to follow this same rule. 

How can you help the audience with a current gap (problem) they’re facing?

listening to a great podcast episode with nuanced thought

If you started every post with why you’re so gifted, how do you think that would play out over time? It wouldn’t. But too many of the pieces of content I see out there are doing a version of this.

Fancy hooks and content prompt lists have certainly made this problem worse, but you don’t have to play by those tired books.

Why You Need To Do The Research First

The second big issue with bad podcast pitches involves laziness. Yeah, I said it!

The amount of work one puts into building a proposal for a conference talk is intense – and pitching for a speaking spot on a podcast should follow a similar pattern. Do the work before sending the email.

A typical pitch goes something like this:

I’d love to talk on your show about Topic M. But if that’s not a good fit, I can also talk about Topic N, O, P, or Q!

There’s a big problem with this, and it builds upon the previous issue. That pitch is not doing the research about what kind of show I, or any other podcast, offers. You need to know how what you offer fits in with the rest of their content.

If you haven’t listened to the show at all, you’ve no business pitching to be on the show. But you don’t have to listen to twelve episodes–listen to a few and make sure you enjoy the format, then look through the topics and show notes for the last three-six months.

I 100% believe there is a responsibility you have if you want to go on somebody else’s owned media property, and that is you got to do the legwork.

Another style of pitch is even more lazy:

If that topic’s not a good fit, go download my one-sheet with other topics I can speak about.

This is worse–because you’re not even willing to type or copy in what you can speak with expertise about!

But there’s an underlying problem that’s worse:

If you have five topics you can speak on and you’re pitching me, I’m sure you’re pitching twenty other hosts, and the same topics will appear on the same shows.

My podcast, if not others, promotes deep conversations and nuanced thinking. I don’t want a facsimile of another podcast.

creating intentional content

Create Intentional Content With Research

Your content may unknowingly fall into the same problem. When you haven’t done your audience research, you might just be sharing the same content topics as others in your field! While we believe that you don’t have any true competition when you’re doing things right, it may appear you have equal competition when you create content this way.

Uncommon Content means separating yourself from the sea of sameness. And that definitely means you need to create content in a different way than those who offer similar services.

Creating content that assumes your audience knows about a thing, when they might not, means you lose them. The flip is also true.

Fixing A Bad Piece of Content

I recently stumbled upon a LinkedIn post by a previous podcast guest, someone whom I respect immensely. But this piece of content felt lazy to me and lowered my opinion of them. Paraphrasing, it said:

New podcast out! Check out the three things you must absolutely know about ____.

I was intrigued. So I clicked. And the show notes page said basically the same thing… This podcast covers the three things you need to know about ____.

Here we are a few days later and I can’t even remember what the topic was about. Why? I came upon this post during my LinkedIn scrolling time, not during my podcast listening time. For me, one is chilling on the couch with my kids, and the other is while I’m driving or on a walk. 

Why was the content bad? Had the post or the notes given me an inkling what the three things were, and trusted me as an intelligent adult capable of making a decision where to invest my time, I would have downloaded the episode to listen to later. Instead, I had no clue about the topic and whether it would be relevant to me or not.

Using Curiosity in Content Isn’t a Trick

I know why this content was posted this way. The person posting it likely heard that curiosity hooks are good in content. But they didn’t use it well. Instead of intriguing, they tried to trick the viewer into listening. Curiosity isn’t just dangling a carrot – it’s telling you why you want to eat the carrot in the first place.

Instead of that post, why they might have done:

New podcast covering the three things you absolutely need to know about ____. 

From there, they could either link to the show notes page with more, or include the next bit right there on the post. Let’s pretend the post was about curiosity:

My favorite? How curiosity can actually harm your content when it isn’t used well. Tune into the episode for the other two!

I’d prefer the show notes page to include all three, as someone who values time investment.

Key Takeaway:

Creating content that allows your audience to see themselves is the first step–but make it easy to consume how they’re currently consuming content.

creating content as a solopreneur

Fixing A Bad Podcast Pitch

I’ve chosen a bad pitch that we can fix up here. If you want truly bad (meaning entirely irrelevant to my audience so they would never make the cut) pitches, check out my Instagram stories or a few I read on the episode that goes with this essay. This one has potential, so let’s make it better. Names and identifying items have been edited; typos have been left it.

Hi Britney,
I recently came across your podcast and I just LOVE how your podcast is focused on with the right strategies in place, you’ll have everything you need to amp up your know, like, trust factor so you can build better relationships with your audience and clients. Looking through your episodes, I’m sure NAME would be a great fit for your audience. 
WHY NAME?
Firstly he’s super fun and engaging; you’ll have a good time with him I guarantee it 🙂
Secondly, he’s exceptionally skilled in Marketing and knows his stuff, NAME:
> Co-founded a wildly successful and unique marketing-as-a-service business
> is trusted by billion-dollar companies in Canada that he’s helped, advised, and given fresh perspectives on marketing
> has over 10+ years of extensive experience in marketing
Below is a link to NAME’s One Sheet(hyperlinked) for your review with her short bio, and relevant links for more information.
NAME One Sheet
Let me know if you’re interested in getting NAME as a guest and I can help you with scheduling!

Let’s point out the issues:

  1. They don’t pitch an actual topic
  2. They want me to do all the work and go download the one sheet
  3. The pitcher refers to the guest both as a he and a her in different places, so it’s clearly a cut and paste job.
  4. Assumed all I want in a guest is being fun.
  5. I’m still not sure what the guy does or what he could contribute for my audience.

What they did right:

  1. They didn’t lead with why NAME is such an awesome person; instead acknowledging what the show is about first (though I’d argue that’s still very generic and more or less copied from the show synopsis on Apple Podcasts).

Here’s how we could fix this:

I recently came across your podcast and I LOVE how your podcast is focused on with the right strategies in place, you’ll have everything you need to amp up your know, like, trust factor with great content. Looking through your episodes, I’m noticing you haven’t covered how service providers are missing a few big ways to talk about their services in their content.
NAME would be a great fit to cover this topic for you audience. He co-founded a wildly successful and unique marketing-as-a-service business and has first-hand experience using content to engage with clients. Over his 10+ years of marketing experience, he found there are three main things most service providers overlook and would love to share them with your guest.

See how that’s different? We picked ONE topic that NAME has the unique experience to cover and wove in his relevant accomplishments to back up that pitch.

How You Talk About Your Services In Content

When you talk about the services you offer, you’ll want to follow these same rules. Use curiosity to get the click, but then deliver on it. Use your accomplishments, when relevant, to bolster your offer, but make sure it’s the right time to make the offer to your audience.

Do you need help creating a content marketing plan that allows you to shine?

We offer complimentary one-on-one consults to help determine if a done-with-you or done-for-you approach is best for you and your business right now.

Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!

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