5 selfish pitching behaviors PR pros should banish

It’s not all about you, communicators. Boost your media relations savvy—and success—by avoiding these all-too-common pitfalls.

Selfish pitching behaviors

For media relations success, consider putting the reporter first.

Often, PR pros scrambling to grab media coverage list reasons why a journalist should publish their stories. Sometimes, PR pros will ask nicely. Others will beg.

Too often, these pitches miss a crucial element to land success (and headlines): What’s in it for the reporter—and his or her readers. Missing this can mean your pitch might be deleted almost as soon as you send it, and it often translates to lackluster media relations effectiveness.

Here are five examples of selfish pitching behaviors—and how to avoid them:

1. Using a template without personalizing it.

If you’re going to use a template, don’t make it obvious.

Here’s a good example:

… I’m a big fan of prdaily.com. I wanted to reach out because I’ve really been enjoying your content, particularly your article on “. [sic]I have some ideas I think the prdaily [sic] audience would love, and I was wondering if you’d be open to a guest blog post?

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Instead of blasting your pitch to all the reporters on a media list, select a small group to which you can tailor your pitch. Make sure any templates you use are properly filled out, including the specific name of the recipient.

If you have ideas that you genuinely think a publication’s readers would love, don’t tell the reporter or editor that. Instead, pitch those stories directly and succinctly, letting the reporter decide if it’s compelling and relevant.

2. Begging for links.

Pitches such as these are an unfortunate, but common, occurrence:

I wanted to reach out to you after coming across your page here: www.ragan.com/main/articles/22_imageediting_tools_to_make_your_pictures_pop_46352.aspxWe recently build a killer tool to compress images. There are a few of these out there, but we built ours to be a bit more quality than the others.

Here it is: [link omitted]

Would you consider adding this link to the page of yours I mentioned above? It’d really knock my socks off if you did 🙂 but hey, it’s up to you.

Let me know what you think. If I don’t hear from you I’ll just follow up in a few days.

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Though I appreciate this person giving me the permission to reject his pitch, the promise (read threat) to follow up in a few days is off-putting.

Here’s another:

I’m reaching out because I have a small request in regards to an article you wrote a while back. This one to be specific: https://www.ragan.com/5-infographic-tools-for-pr-and-marketing-pros/.Would you be able to update and include a mention to [my tool]?

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An editor is not going to update a story with a link to your product, service or organization because you asked him or her to do so. This is an especially ridiculous request when the article in question is old (in this case, from 2015).

Please read this article before you ask for a link in your next pitch.

3. Starting with you.

The opening sentence of this pitch email speaks volumes:

I was looking for websites that feature articles related to marketing. Your page certainly caters to my interest.

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Here’s a translation: “Your publication can do a lot for me. Forget what I can do for you—I want you to publish my story.”

Along with finding a news hook, including data and statistics that grab attention and sending compelling images that illustrate your story, focus your pitch on the value it (and you) brings to the reporter and his or her readers. Wait until the end to include what’s in it for you (if you include it at all).

4. Not even trying to entice reporters.

[PR agency], an award-winning [location] public relations and marketing firm, has announced the appointment of [person’s name] as executive vice president.Please help us share this news. The full press release is below, and a photo is attached for your use. If you have any questions, please let me know.

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PR pros are often given the unfortunate task of pitching their organizations’ corporate non-news, such as merger, new hire and new client announcements. If you cannot convince your boss or client that a blog post in your newsroom is a better place for this, try to find a current trend or another story to which you can attach it. Otherwise, you’ll bore the reporter a few sentences into your pitch.

Please also note that you should only use one space after the end of a sentence. AP style dropped the two-space rule many years agoChicago Manual of Style and MLA Style Manual also say to use one space after the period in a sentence (as well as after a colon), so it’s not a rule specific to the communications industry.

5. Sending irrelevant pitches.

Here’s a pitch for a guide about the healing power of crystals:

Just checking in one last time; I think this guide for crystals might really be of interest to you.

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It’s really not.

Especially in today’s digital media landscape, there are a plethora of online publications, blogs and websites that cater to all kinds of interests. In this case, a new-age publication would have been a much better fit than one which publishes articles for communicators.

Sending an irrelevant pitch, at best, tells the reporter or editor that you didn’t conduct any research. At worst, it sends the message that you don’t value the recipient’s time. Neither makes a good impression.

What behaviors would you add to this list?

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