5 takeaways from pitches that missed the mark by a mile

These emails did the PR pros who sent them no favors. Consider the following examples of irrelevant media relations queries—along with what you can do to avoid the same reaction.

Irrelevant PR pitches

There are many media relations behaviors that serve to annoy journalists.

Ignoring follow-up etiquettebeing selfish in your media relations efforts, not responding in a timely manner and omitting information are several ways you can drive reporters and editors crazy.

However, one of the most common (and annoying) PR practices is sending irrelevant pitches. Doing so inevitably will send your email to the trash and garner this response from the recipient:


Here are several incredibly off-the-mark pitches I’ve personally received, along with my reaction for each—and ways you can avoid irritating news media professionals in the future.

The pitch:

Personal cooks typically gain their business through word of mouth. [Name omitted], a Barcelona-based chef, has decided to get people talking about his business the best way he knows how. Through his Instagram.By realizing everyone already drools over food porn any way, he created a website that mimicked PornHub but replaced everything with his actual cooking. Photos are fed through his Instagram posts, and sexy, food-inspired audio clips are randomized as you refresh the page giving the website an added flavor.

The reaction:


The lesson: Build buzz through brand journalism and social media.

As odd as this pitch was (the site was even weirder), it might have made for a wacky PR stunt story if this chef’s communicator had also built enough buzz through consumer and reporter reactions.

Today, every communicator has the ability to share their organizations’ or clients’ news and stories through brand journalism and powerful storytelling. Social media has also helped to level the playing ground for reaching consumers and capturing their attention. You can tweet or tag influencers in your industry or work with social media users and teams on collaborative online posts.

For the pitch above, tagging PornHub’s social media profile might have been the way to go: The adult site has garnered a lot of attention the past few years with its zany marketing tactics—and their fans need to eat, too.

Don’t just pitch an idea: Make it a story of your own that readers of all kinds want to share, and the headlines can pile up naturally.

The pitch:

Just checking in one last time; I think this guide for crystals might really be of interest to you.… We understand how people long for inner peace and healing and crystals may bring the connection they look for.

The reaction:


The lesson: “Spray and pray” is not an effective pitching strategy.

When I think of a guide to the “inner peace and healing” through crystals, I think of alternative health and wellness blogs and social media profiles dedicated to New Age content. I don’t think of a PR publication.

When you’re targeting everyone, you’re really targeting no one. Don’t make the mistake of forwarding your pitch to the biggest number of reporters, hoping for a low (read: .02 percent) success rate that still translates into a few headlines. Doing so can kill potential relationships with reporters and even get you a bad reputation.

Instead, research the reporters and influencers who might actually be interested in your content, along with the publications, blogs and organizations that cater to your target viewer. The time spent finding and learning about these relevant gatekeepers will boost your success rate and be worth it in the end.

The pitch:

Are you constantly facing bid submission deadlines? Are you concerned about the high cost of getting accurate estimates? Do you often fail to bid because you lack personnel to do the estimates or because you were hard-pressed for time?We can make your bidding process easier. We provide accurate material take-offs and cost estimates at low cost and with fast turnaround. Let us be your trusted partner.

Our team of professionals has been providing these services to General Contractors, Subs (Painting, Flooring, Dry-wall, Carpentry, HVAC etc.), Developers, Home Builders and Individual Home-Owners …and we are proud to say that our clients have been very satisfied with our service.

The reaction:


The lesson: No tool can replace individual research.

There are a plethora of tools and resources, including media lists, that can help you identify current trends, reach journalists and editors, see what social media users are influencers in a particular subject or industry, and even measure your media relations and branding efforts.

Be wary of any one tool or media list that promises to deliver amazing results.

Journalists and editors change jobs. Online conversations are often more nuanced than what sentiment trackers measure. Contributors are not publications’ decision makers. Use tools such as automated email services, media lists and social media schedulers alongside a solid strategy, savvy communicators and evaluation measures.

Anything short of that can lead you to pitch a general contracting bidding service to a PR publication, which is wildly off the mark.

The pitch:

Hello,We believe we have interesting content for you on our cocktail website. For each day of the year we’ve made a cocktail linked to a special celebration on that day, like a celebrity birthday or a special event.

The reaction:


The lesson: Find an angle—or move on.

Repeat after me: Tacking on sentences such as, “We believe we have interesting content for you” or, “Your readers will love this” does not make your pitch more relevant.

Show that you have an understanding for a publication’s readers within your pitch. Share a story, tip or quote that a reporter would actually want to share in an upcoming article. Focus on what the reporter and his or her readers are after—not you, your organization or your client.

The pitch:

I read prdaily.com, and I thought you and your readers would love an infographic my team and I created on How to Hide Your House From GOOGLE MAPS.It’s a simple guide that shows how you can hide your house from Google Maps plus some helpful facts about it.

The reaction:


The lesson: Tailor your pitches—and your content.

Saying, “I read [insert publication here] is the fastest way to tell a reporter or editor that you don’t read his or her publication—especially when the next sentence is a completely irrelevant pitch.

I don’t care how you can hide your address from Google Maps, nor does PR Daily’s editor, Ted Kitterman. However, Kitterman does care about interesting infographics that touch upon PR, marketing, social media, writing and crisis communications best practices and statistics.

This pitch is better suited for a technology publication or a blog catered to privacy and security tips. As it currently stands, it’s suitable only for the trash bin.

(Image via)


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.