A journalist dissects a lousy pitch and a good one

Culled from a recent PR Daily webinar, this analysis can help PR pros avoid the lethal missteps that send story offerings straight to the trash bin. Land that coveted coverage with this advice.


The primary reason that journalists ignore PR pitches today is the same reason they ignored them 25 years ago: The pitch is generic.

Worse, many PR folks don’t take the time to understand the targeted publication, nor do they think through the type of story that’s going to resonate with its audience.

PR Daily, in conjunction with Muck Rack, recently conducted a webinar that turned the stage over to four journalists who shared how to win them over. All four presentations offered fresh insights, but let’s zero in on two examples from Pete Pachal at Mashable.

OK, never good to start off with the wrong name, though to give credit where credit is due, the PR person did manage to get the first consonant right.

Moving along, the pitch never delineates the actual news and how it’s going to affect people.

“Do you even read my site, bro?” Indeed.

By contrast, consider the following:

No question, knowing the journalist’s name gets the pitch off to a good start.

Then the pitch proceeds to call out the hard news, why it’s important and how it fits into the Mashable universe.

That is how you do it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the company happens to be a mega brand.

Another positive example

Last year Mike Butcher at TechCrunch praised the following pitch for hitting the right notes—clear and to the point—with the ideal format:

Hi Mike, I am working with a company called COMPANYNAME at the moment and they have just closed a round of funding for expansion in the UK and U.S. markets (which currently account for over 50 percent of their business) that takes the total funding for the company to $XXX million. We’d love to offer TechCrunch the exclusive.

COMPANYNAME (www.COMPANYNAME.com and CrunchBase profile https://lnkd.in/dbKgZNS) has developed a powerful technology that allows businesses and professionals to easily etc.

They currently have close to 1 million clients across 70 countries and offer localized app solutions in six different languages.

Their main competitors are: • COMPETITORNAME • COMPETITORNAME • COMPETITORNAME.

The full press release is pasted below and their logo can be found here: wp-content/uploads/COMPANYNAME.png.

A few key stats—the company currently:

  • Develops around X,000 apps a month
  • Has increased revenues by 40 percent over the last 6 months
  • Counts the U.S. and UK as its two biggest markets followed by Brazil and Italy

Your colleague Darrell Etherington covered their first round of funding in 2012. Here’s the URL …

Think like the journalist who is striving to write a story that (a) the publication’s audience cares about and (b) includes a unique narrative or at least an enticing angle.

Creating a pitch that delivers on the above proposition takes time. Still, isn’t it smarter to put time into few hand-crafted pitches likely to generate high-quality coverage than mass-blasting a pitch to a zillion journalists that generates maybe a handful of blurbs?

Lou Hoffman is CEO of the Hoffman Agency, a global communications consultancy focused on the tech sector. He blogs on storytelling in business at Ishmael’s Corner, where you can read more of his work.

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