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.

2. Like yourself and be aware of your strengths

Most of us tend to listen too much to criticism – myself included. We see our own faults and failures and dwell on them – yet we take our successes for granted as if they were no big deal. But if you want to get excited about the next job you’re working on, it’s important to remember all you’ve done successfully in the past – and be confident that if you can do it once, you can do it again.  So what successes have you had? Write a list of your strengths and believe in them.  

And think ‘why did the client pick you out of all the others?’. That’s the sort of question that’s sure to get me excited!

3. Think about your client’s customers

How well does your client know their own customers? We tend to overestimate how much clients know about their own customers. There are always gaps in a client’s knowledge and if we can help them understand their customers better, we’ll build trust and be able to offer more creative solutions.

One of my mentoring clients recently asked me to help with an article they were writing on stairlift installation contractors.

My initial reaction was to have some sympathy but I urged him to dig deep for human stories, to look not at the mechanics of what they did, but the impact their work had on their customers. The resulting article was excellent – and what made it so was the wonderful human stories he uncovered – especially when people were able to visit parts of the house they hadn’t seen for years.


  • Ask clients plenty of questions about their customers
  • Look for gaps in their knowledge and ask how could you help them fill it
  • Think about their customers and how the work you do can help them.
  • Think about how good your client will feel if you help them better serve their customers.

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 4. Face it – it is impossible to get excited about mediocre content

You can’t generate false excitement – something mediocre will just not do it – so set yourself a quality threshold and don’t fall below it.

If I think some content I’m working on is not quite up to the standard I’d like, I won’t continue to struggle. Instead, I’ll put it aside, work on something else and sleep on it.

Invariably, I’ll come back to my desk the next day with fresh inspiration and I’ll whizz through the work – wondering what on earth it was that made it seem so difficult the day before.

But what if you can’t leave it until the next day? The best thing to do is to ask a friend or a colleague to have a look at it and ask them how you could make it better. Not only can they come up with some good ideas, but the social interaction on its own has the potential to fire up your excitement and make sure you get it done.


5. Target quality prospects

Top quality blogs are difficult to convert. Their standards are pretty high and any pitches face a lot of competition. Which means that sometimes, intent on getting our numbers up, we shy away from those tough nuts and target only lower quality blogs where the barrier to entry may be lower – or it may be easier to develop a relationship with the person behind the site.

Going for easy targets is entirely understandable and necessary at times.

But difficult challenges force us to rise to the occasion. So keep the adrenaline level high by focusing at least some of your efforts on winning over top blogs and media outlets.

And landing a hit from a top prospect is something that will definitely get you excited – and keep you motivated to do even better next time.

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 6. Motivation is contagious

How do you share your enthusiasm with colleagues? And how do they share their successes with you? Working out how to do that in your agency or workplace – even if you work from home on your own – can have a dramatic effect on your mood.

As Ron Friedman writes in Psychology Today , “OUR MINDS are wired to mimic others, especially facial expressions-whether we perceive them in person, on a television screen, or in a company logo. So when we see a smile we’re more likely to smile ourselves…”

“This tendency to imitate expressions is one reason comedies seem funnier when viewed in movie theaters and sporting events are more exciting when we’re sitting in the stands. Emotions are contagious. The more people we see expressing a particular feeling, the more likely we are to adopt it ourselves, amplifying it in the process.”

7. Don’t be afraid of failure

In my first serious marketing job, I worked for a non-profit for 10 years and was responsible for developing many ideas – some of them successful and some of them not. I looked for common threads between my successes and failures – two successes I’d had inspired two failures – and another two failures inspired two successes.

My conclusion is that the only way of guaranteeing success is to experience failures – so failures may disappoint me, but I’m not afraid to have them.

And here’s a wonderful quote from Thomas A. Edison:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

8. Give yourself a reward

And if all else fails, perhaps you can generate excitement by promising yourself a reward as soon as you complete a difficult task. For some ideas, check out ‘10 Ways To Reward Yourself For Working So Hard’.

So how do you motivate yourself to get excited about your work? Please share in the comments below.

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Author: Ken McGaffin

I’ve been working online since studying entrepreneurship at Boston College, MA since the early 90s. I now consult and provide training in digital marketing, public relations and link building. If you’d like to have a chat, give me a call on +44 (0)1292 263801 or drop me a line to ken @ kenmcgaffin.com