Some pitching behaviors can drive reporters crazy.
Though PR pros can easily find journalists who want to be pitched via phone and others that hate it—or those that find follow-up emails and calls helpful, while others despise the act—some pitching missteps are universally loathed by reporters and editors across publications.
Here are two pitching fails that can immediately move your email to the trash bin:
1. You didn’t bother to make it personal.
Journalists understand that PR pros have jobs to do, and that the pitch you’re sending was likely sent to other reporters. However, you don’t have to be obvious about your lack of tailoring and personalization.
Here’s a pitch about an organization winning an award:
Dear Media Outlets:
I’m submitting a press release about the [organization name redacted] winning the [awarding organization name redacted] Annual Award for Business Excellence (AABE).
… Would there be any way to use this news as a business announcement in your print publications or on your websites?
This PR pro really wanted me to publish a press release:
We would highly appreciate if this press release “[Organization name redacted] LAUNCHES LATEST MATCHING ALGORITHM FEATURE” could be published in your esteemed website.
I still can’t figure out what question this pitch is asking:
Thanks for opening my email. You being theExecutive Editor ,reducing the turnaround time in publishing along with ensuring optimal utilization of your editorial content may be your prime objectives. [Organization name redacted] can assist you in achieving these objectives by assisting you with meaningful utilization of right Technology and Resources.
This pitch is about automation, so perhaps its lack of tailoring is ironic:
Good day Editor,
Automation is the latest buzz word and can cause anxiety and unease based on the change it means for a business or a person. But, like most things embracing the change can be your greatest asset.
Whether you automate repetitive tasks or outsource services to a managed service provider (MSP), both can free up your most valuable asset – time.
Below are some insights into automation in the IT services, please consider sharing these with your readers.
Along with not being a fit (PR Daily doesn’t publish articles about IT services), the title of the press release caused me additional confusion:
Put your success on autopilot with managed IT services
The last thing I’d want to do with my success is put it on autopilot.
Successful pitching efforts involve research. Savvy PR pros have looked at the publication’s front page, along with the journalist’s bio (or Twitter handle, if you can find one) to ensure that your story is a fit for the reporter’s beat and readers.
If you’re going to send the same pitch to many journalists, break them into smaller groups and tailor those pitches to the individual groups, based on traits (such as local news outlets, vertical publications in a particular industry or journalists on a certain beat).
At the bare minimum, use the journalist’s name (and correctly spell it).
2. You didn’t give enough information.
Whether or not you automate your pitching efforts, you should give enough information that the journalist you’ve contacted knows what you’re asking and can respond accordingly.
This pitch is about writing a guest post for Ragan.com:
I hope you are well? This is [name, title and site redacted]. Actually, I have some kind of passion for blogging and I have also written lots of useful posts on many blogs.
I came across your site Ragan.com and wanted to be a Guest Contributor. It would be great if I get an opportunity to share my content with your blog readers.
Let me know your thoughts on the above and I will send over some title suggestions unless there is a particular topic you would like me to cover on your behalf?
I’ll be awaiting your response.
This pitch tells me nothing other than this person wants to write a story, and the salutation lets me know that I am one of a number of other individuals who have received this same email.
Most publications have a publishing guide that states whether or not it accepts guest submissions, and if it does, steps you should follow before pitching. PR Daily has a submission page and guide—or you can learn more in this article about writing for PR Daily.
No matter what publication you pitch, however, have an idea ready to go. Don’t expect the reporter or editor to have a list of assignments ready to dole out to those who contact them, hoping to write articles. Those assignments are generally done through the publication’s staff or contributor group, not to people with whom the journalist has no relationship.
Many publications want to see articles before accepting or rejecting them, which is another reason to read guest submission guidelines before pitching.
I also received a follow-up email to the pitch above:
Just wanted to follow up on the Inquiry I sent over a few days back. Have you had a chance to give it a look?
I’m still awaiting a sign that this person knows my name or what I do.