PR Pitching Mistakes: A Journalist’s Perspective

May 2, 2013
 

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By: Elizabeth
Cosmyk shares some other lies journalists hear from so-called PR pros.
As a PR professional, I spend much of my day trying to get the attention of journalists. Calling them, e-mailing them, tweeting them, hoping to get an answer as to whether they'd be interested in covering my client. When work is finished for the day, my interaction with journalists is not over. I come home to one.
My best-friend-turned-roommate works in the editorial department of one of the world's biggest magazines, and she constantly finds herself on the receiving end of PR pitches. One evening, I asked her what PR folks do that drives her crazy. Here are the four biggest pitching don'ts from a journalist:

  1. Don't lie. Do not say you know someone if it's not true. Do not falsely claim to have spoken to someone before. Do not say you're someone you are not. In all cases, journalists will find out, and you will be shamed.
  2. Don't overstate a referral. If someone has passed you along to his colleague, it's fine to say, “X gave me your contact information.” But don't make the interaction sound like something more than it was by saying, “Your colleague, X, said you could cover this product.” Your contact won't appreciate being backed into a corner under false pretenses. Your deceit will be exposed when he asks the person to whom you're referring – who probably sits two desks away – how the conversation really went.
  3. Don't pitch without knowing to whom you're pitching. Know your target audience, and know what kind of audience the publication has. If you pitch something totally irrelevant to a reporter, you've wasted your time and hers.
  4. Do be persistent, but know when to call it a day. Publishing is a busy, fast-paced industry where things tend to fall off the radar, so it's okay to remind a journalist to get back to you. Be wary, however, of the line between assertive and annoying. My roommate said, “We don't take pitches from annoying people, people who haven't researched who they are pitching, or people who just constantly crank out pitches without actually thinking of good matches.” In other words, it's quality, not quantity.

What techniques do you use for successful pitching?

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