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4 Pitching No-Nos That Drive Journalists Crazy

hell no

Today we bring you a guest post from Lorenzo Grandi.

Lorenzo is the community manager at pr.co, an online PR toolkit that publishes press releases in minutes. His job is to help people get the most out of their PR efforts online. You can find him on Twitter.

How well do PR people and journalists get along? Sometimes it’s easy to avoid common mistakes that will prevent you from getting covered and possibly ruin your relationship with the journalist–and who better than journalists themselves to point us in the right direction?!

With the help of Martin Bryant, Editor-in-Chief at The Next Web, we gathered a list of no-nos that drive journalists crazy. Let’s take a look at the mistakes that PR pros have to avoid (complete with quotes from various unnamed editors).

1. Never gonna give you up rick-astely Persistence is a virtue , but you also need to understand when to accept a “no”. Among the most common complaints we encountered: the follow-up call right after an email. Social Media outreach can also be annoying, so think twice before friending a journalist on Facebook or mentioning him on Twitter right after the pitch. Simultaneously sending a release to both personal and professional email addresses can also be seen as an invasion.

[I hate…] “Friending me on Facebook right after they pitch me.”

Our journalist contacts also mention that any effort to change/complain about editorial decisions is seen as obnoxious and may put those crucial relationships at risk. [Ed. note: we know that you know this.] Finally, don’t be creepy. Nobody wants to read references to a recent illness from some unknown Twitter lurker.

[I hate…] “Referencing my tweets in email pitches. ‘I hope your back is better’.”

2. Lack of personalization TomCruise Persistence is not the only sign of bad PR: lack of effort and mass distribution can be even worse. Examples: endless CC lists and BCCs that make it look like the contacts emailed themselves. Also:

[I hate…] “Copy and pasting my name in a different font… OK, so you can’t even type my name into your template.”

Of course, an email starting with “dear media outlet” doesn’t stand much of a chance, so at least get the name right.

[I hate…] “Dear The Next Read Write Web. Get the name right.”

3. Get straight to the point whatsyourpoint Buzzwords won’t get you far: “disruptive”, “revolutionary”, “market-leading”, “award-winning”, etc. are meaningless jargon phrases. Think about audiences, not journalists–and avoid what we’ll call “superlative-stuffing.”

[I hate…] “Littering a pitch with superlatives such as ‘market-leading’ and ‘award-winning’. Grates on me.”

A good pitch is always straight to the point: many journalists complain about emails that require readers to scroll down (and about emails with no links). Stick to the facts, keep it short and add a link to your online press release.

[I hate…] “Pitches that want to put me in touch with their CEO before I know what they even do. As if I’d be like ‘OMG A CEO WANTS TO TALK TO ME?’”

4. Contentious issues rolling eyes The majority of our contacts agree on the points discussed before, but some individual preferences do divide journalists.

Should you present pure facts, as in “Hi, here we are and this is what we do”, or should you suggest a story, an angle, a spin for the journalist to consider? Opinions diverge on this issue.

Sometimes it’s good to pitch a story months before the big event hits, while a weeklong embargo is already too much in other cases. [Ed note: bloggers really don't like embargoes.]

Should you include mentions/links from other blogs, or should you only pitch exclusives? There’s no single answer: journalists are people, too, and their preferences will obviously vary.

In the end, honesty, common sense and the development of long-lasting relationships with journalists will help you avoid these four points in almost every case.

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