Media relations has never been easy. Building 1-on-1 relationships needs to be balanced with getting as much “ink” as possible, and the two priorities often conflict. Not to mention, putting to bed old-habits that no longer work - such as the tendency to mass-pitch - is a hard proposition to ask of pros who have been doing it for a long time. There’s also the pain of easily tracking and optimizing performance of outreach efforts to get the most wins per pitch.
If you’re managing, hiring, or doing PR in some capacity, chances are you’ve seen an infographic, ebook or blog on perfect pitching practices, or how to build stronger relationships with proper media pitching. Your subject line could be perfect. Your messaging could be clear and on point. You could even already have an existing relationship with them. Sometimes, however, the biggest mistakes with media contacts are the smallest.
And mistakes are deadly in the world of media relations. Studies show that 53% of reporters will have blacklisted at least one person this month due to bad pitching.
Do you know what will get you immediately trashed? 3 things to double check before hitting send:
Am I addressing this to the right person?
This may sound ridiculous, but it is a sadly common mistake for the busy PR pro. In fact, even the best-of-the-best can simply overlook the traps of copying-and-pasting. Whether the influencer has a relationship with the brand and/or the PR pro or not, this mistake might as well select the spam button automatically.
Journalists just hate it:
You definitely want to spell the person’s name right. Or in this case, make sure you have the right name entirely
And mass-pitch-generated generic names will certainly not cut it either. This is one of the most common mistakes, caused by having too many people in the cc: and not spending enough time (or caring enough) to personalize it.
Maybe you have spent a lot of time putting together a few template pitches and left space to add personal touches. This is a common practice, and not frowned upon if the personalization is genuine. But if not careful, this can be deadly to a PR pros reputation. Nobody wants to receive an email with a blank name - especially not a reporter you’re trying to impress.
Is this appropriate for this media contact?
No influencer is the same. Not only do they all cover different things for different platforms, but they all have personal preferences on pitching. You could put together what you feel to be the most personal, perfectly-aligned pitch and still end up in the spam folder for being inconsiderate to their preferences. Knowing these nuances ensures that your pitch has the best chance.
First thing to consider, is this the right pitch for this reporter? Someone who writes about enterprise software isn’t going to write about consumer tech. Don’t just look for the word “tech” in their bio or media database. That’s lazy. Take it a step further and find out what they’re REALLY focused on. Doing some research on them can stop this huge disaster from occurring.
Next is your tone. You may be at a comfort level with some of your influencers where you can associate with one another on friendship level: crack jokes, use nicknames. But this does not stand for every influencer.
Is this news, or annoying?
While it may feel like news to your brand, it isn’t news to everyone. Make sure what you are sending is worthy of their attention. Reporters get approximately 300 email pitches a day. have fast, strict deadlines, and are generally low on patience (wouldn’t you be under these circumstances?) Respect this by not send on fluff-filled pitches.
Everyone hates buzzwords. Don’t add sparkle with loaded words. Excessive adjectives only devalues the pitch.
Do not send more than two emails regarding the same pitch. 87% of media contacts agree that PR agents should not send more than two follow-up emails. Sending a ton of checkups only increases your chance of getting blacklisted, not getting a response.
Lastly, be accessible. Include your contact information, and be prepared to get contacted. Nothing is more annoying to a media contact than reading a pitch, reaching out to the PR pro for more information, and receiving nothing in return.
At the end of the day, there's one skill that matters more than anything else in PR - pitching prowess. Even the smartest, most-dedicated PR teams in the world will struggle to earn powerful media placements if they don't know the secrets to expert PR pitching and media relations management. To avoid committing #PRfails just slow down, and double-check. Once you’re ready, hit send with confidence.
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