Our words come alive when we have passion, energy and excitement, whether we’re writing or phoning or presenting – or pitching our content to a prospect in the hope of getting a great link. Just think of the people who have influenced you, whether with their writing or their voice – what did they do or say to make a positive impression on you?

We’ve got to get ourselves into that positive mindset when we’re doing our PR or link building outreach. But that’s easy to say but how do you actually do it? Here’s the sort of preparation I do before making a pitch.

1. Like your clients and what they’re doing

It’s easy to do work for people you like and respect but that doesn’t always come naturally. You’ve got to work at it so:

Be curious – find out as much information about your clients as you can. Last week I went through a new client’s website and found that one of the senior staff was a best selling author on Amazon – scanning his author profile and his publications gave me a lot of insight

Talk to your client – there’s a great old Roman quote, “We have two ears and one mouth and we should listen and talk in the same proportion”. And that’s just in formal meetings – I think it’s also important to listen in unguarded moments – people are endlessly fascinating and they love to talk. You’ll learn much if you really listen and respond. Once I got the basis of a story that eventually made the Financial Times – just from an off-hand remark a CEO made in the carpark.

Look for stories you can build on – always scribble down notes as soon as you can and then review them later on. You’ll be amazed at how much important detail we forget if we don’t make notes. Being on top of that detail will not only give you ideas for content, it will also get you respect from the client if they see that you remember detail.

Research the market – I always read the trade press or industry sites to see what the talking points in the industry are, what are the key trends, the innovations and the concerns. If I can relate a customer story to what’s happening now in the industry, I know I’m going to create compelling content.