Real journalists share hilarious PR fails

Journalists use #PRfail on Twitter to flag heinous transgressions by public relations folks. Beyond having a few laughs, industry pros can add these gaffes to their list of don’ts.

As PR pros, we all know there are those pitching missteps that journalists loathe. There are surveys telling us what they prefer and advice on how they like to be pitched.

Did you know, though, that there’s a Twitter account where journalists share #PRfails?

Yes, @SmugJourno retweets reporters’ #PRfail tweets.

It’s a fun account to follow, as not only are many of them laugh-out-loud funny, but you can also gain valuable insight into what not to do when pitching journalists. Have a look:

A classic PR 101 mistake. No reporter is going to feel special when you make this error.

Or this:

Then there’s this. No matter how long you’ve been doing PR, there will be clients who will ask this question. The answer is always going to be no, so please don’t ask:

When it comes to reaching out, what’s the best way to contact journalists?

Then there are reporters who believe you should never call them, for any reason:

There’s also a lot of debate as to whether pitching via social media works. Here’s a tactic that obviously failed:

As we’re talking about social media, yes, you can use it to get know a bit more about journalists, but there is a line you shouldn’t cross:

For those wondering whether they should attach anything to an email pitch, here’s some advice:

It’s usually best to cut and paste the information into the body of the email.

Another tactic some still use in media pitching is an embargo: Reporters are pitched in advance of an announcement but asked to hold the information until a particular date and time. Some in PR wonder whether embargoes work; here’s one reporter’s take:

Now let’s talk about how to get a reporter’s attention. They receive so many email pitches—what’s the best way to make sure your pitch stands out?

Of course, we all know a well-written pitch matters. How about proofing your pitch? Is that important?

If you are cutting and pasting your pitches, use care:

Finally, it’s always good to make sure you’ll be available if you’re the contact on an announcement:

That’s a sampling of what you’ll see on @SmugJourno. If you need some media pitching lessons—or just a laugh—it’s a good place to turn.

Michelle Messenger Garrett is a public relations consultant, speaker and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of agency, corporate, startup and Silicon Valley experience. A version of this article first appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.

Topics: PR

COMMENT Daily Headlines

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