Pitching to Subject Matter Experts: 7 Proven Tips for Success

How to pitch to subject matter experts

Are subject matter experts not responding to your inquiries?

It’s time for a fresh approach.

Subject matter experts have devoted many years to their areas of expertise. They may be founders, managers, or CEOs of well-known organizations. Despite their achievements, they’re just like us—seeking genuine connections.

To make a lasting impression, ditch the robotic scripts. Embrace authenticity, friendliness, and creativity.

In this article, we offer some valuable tips to help you craft compelling pitches that resonate with SMEs 


  • 7 Expert Tips for Recruiting Subject Matter Experts 
  • 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Pitching to a Subject Matter Expert


7 Expert Tips for Recruiting Subject Matter Experts

You’re to write an article advocating for the use of seat belts in cars. You’ve done online research and reflected on personal experiences.

But, a crucial piece is missing: insights from car manufacturers.

They design and produce seat belts. They can provide valuable insights into why seat belts were developed and why they remain essential for vehicle safety today.

We know from a previous report, how brands benefit from collaborating with subject matter experts

But how do you approach these experts?

We asked our network of content marketers to share practical tips for pitching to subject matter experts. Here’s what they had to say:


  1. Connect first
  2. Show interest in their work
  3. Personalize your connection message
  4. Be prepared 
  5. Communicate the benefits they stand to gain
  6. Be flexible
  7. Ask smart and relevant questions


1. Connect first

Pitching is not just about getting an interview. It’s also about building a relationship. You want to get to know the individual behind their projects, so you must be friendly and easy to talk to.

Stefanie Magness of Elevate U PR says, “Approach a subject matter expert like you’re asking a friend for their secret recipe. Imagine you’re curious about making the best chocolate cake, and your friend is a master baker. You’d start by saying, “Hey, I’ve heard you make the most amazing chocolate cake. Could you share your tips with me?” This friendly, genuine approach works well when reaching out to experts.

Another example would be reaching out to a trademark attorney. You could say something like this: “Hi! I’m working on a blog post about protecting brand names. Can you share your insights on the basics of trademark law? Also, how can businesses secure their brand identities?”

2. Show interest in their work

A good way to stand out is to create valuable connections with SMEs. You can do this by showing real interest in their work.

When vetting subject matter experts for your content, prioritize those with a strong background in the subject. Knowing their work and being genuinely excited about it makes it easy to get and keep their attention.

Cristina Luna del Pozo of Cuaderno Borrador, advises that you “Establish a genuine connection by showing interest in their expertise and knowledge. Start by researching their previous work. Take note of any questions you have. Then, clearly and briefly explain how their ideas could enhance your blog.”

3. Personalize your connection message

Words of affirmation are not strictly for romantic relationships. 

Giving positive feedback on their work helps create a good impression. It also puts your potential interviewee at ease right away.

Haley Slade of Slade Copy House says, “Write a personal email or message highlighting their relevance to your blog topic and expressing genuine admiration for their work. Again, don’t be fake to get a yes. Only do this if you enjoy someone’s work. Explain how their insights would help your audience. Say why you want their input over someone else’s. Or, just why you want them at all.”

4. Be prepared

Reach out to them early in the content creation process. Have your brief, pitch, and timeline ready. Sharing these documents will help the SME make an informed decision. It will also prepare them in case they agree to participate.

How to approach subject matter experts

Kevin Doherty of Alma, says, “Being prepared with specific, open-ended questions is one of the best ways to get experts to contribute. Start by sharing 1-3 questions that feel particularly well-suited to them, and then ask follow-up questions if you have the opportunity.”

5. Communicate the benefits SMEs stand to gain

Participating in content creation can benefit the SME. It is important to emphasize this. Your organization might decide to provide a bonus or a shopping voucher for internal experts who participate in your research. They get this for the extra time and effort.

External SMEs may receive payment or other forms of compensation. In addition to exposure, benefits such as referrals to other professionals or providing positive reviews go a long way. This will prove your value and commitment to maintaining the relationship. 

6. Be flexible

“Be flexible in how you collaborate, whether through an interview, guest post, or sharing insights via email. Provide a clear call to action, inviting them to participate in a way that aligns with their preferences” says Haley Slade of Slade Copy House.

Ally Boldan of Instaprint agrees, “If you’re approaching a neurodiverse expert, know that they may prefer to communicate differently. If you’re approaching an  expert based in a different region–be considerate of their time zone.”

7. Ask smart and relevant questions

Ask questions that bridge the gap between your audience’s interests and the subject matter expert’s knowledge. Ask deep, insightful questions that encourage experts to share their experiences and opinions. 

As Anastasiia Bilynska, Public Relations Manager at Jooble, puts it “Questions for leaders should be thoughtful to guarantee that leaders do not provide generic or superficial information. Questions that demonstrate a deep understanding of the topic and offer an opportunity to share their experiences are best.

It’s useful to set a format from the start. This way, speakers know what to expect.”


5 Mistakes to Avoid When Pitching to a Subject Matter Expert

Creating content can be time-consuming, especially when working with experts.

To avoid wasting resources, avoid these 5 most common mistakes when reaching out to subject matter experts:


  1. Disregarding their time
  2. Sending non-personalized messages
  3. Overpromising
  4. Being vague in your approach
  5. Lack of proper structure


1. Disregarding their time

Respect subject matter experts’ time (SMEs) by planning and preparing in advance. Respond promptly to ensure the conversation yields the expected results. If they do not respond promptly, consider them for future projects. Do not spam them as the deadline approaches.

Ronn Torossian of 5WPR says, “Don’t assume that an SME has unlimited time or availability. It’s essential to respect their schedules and commitments. I.e You must be mindful of their time limits. And, you must be brief and polite in your communication.”

2. Sending non-personalized messages

“One critical mistake to avoid when pitching to a subject matter expert is failing to personalize your request,” says Stacy Jones of Hollywood Branded.

“Generic, template-based messages can give the impression that you haven’t invested time in understanding the expert’s work or how it relates to your blog topic. This lack of personalization can cause the SME to overlook or dismiss your request because it doesn’t resonate with them or show a genuine interest in their unique contributions. Tailoring your pitch to highlight how their expertise aligns with your needs shows respect for their work and significantly increases the likelihood of a positive response.”

3. Overpromising

Kevin Doherty of Alma says “When reaching out to SMEs, many of us strive to share “what’s in it for them.” Be wary of making inappropriate promises. This includes offers of exposure. They might belittle the experience they bring. Start with the request for input, and follow up with negotiating incentives second.”

4. Being vague in your approach

“When presenting to an expert avoid being vague or generic,” says Cristina Luna del Pozo of Cuaderno Borrador. You may give the impression that you’re rambling or not focused on the task. It is crucial to research first. Tailor your presentation to their experience and interests. This demonstrates respect for their time and expertise. It increases the likelihood of a successful collaboration.”

Remember to include a clear call to action in your pitch. Communicate tasks, goals, and deadlines. Use shared language to establish credibility within the industry.

5. Lack of proper structure

Stay focused when pitching to an SME to avoid frustrating your SME. Prepare a simple outline of your talking points to keep your presentation clear and concise.

Wrap up

Getting SMEs to care is no small task.

Be prepared, ask smart, relevant questions, and get consent as required. 


Comments are closed.