How Not To Pitch A Journalist – 10 Pet Peeves

4 min read · 7 years ago


The more you understand what journalists hate about being pitched the more you can focus on what they like and want and then give that to them. And, that is one of the key steps in getting yourself and your business noticed.

DSC_0777-reputation-rubbishI’ve come across some interesting articles online recently and I wanted to share some of the things they highlighted about what journalists hate because I think they give some really useful insight about how to pitch them. If you know what annoys journalists then you can steer clear of that – and that can only be a good thing. You want to contact them to enhance your profile, reputation and credibility – not to trash it.

Some time ago Muckrack asked journalists what they thought about bad PR pitches. It makes for interesting reading and you can read the full post here. In a nutshell, the answers weren’t that surprising – pet peeves from journalists included:

  1. Generic greetings – dear colleague/sir/madam. Well, think about how you react when you get those sales emails tumbling into your inbox. If someone hasn’t take the time to find out my name (easy enough from the website) then they can’re really be interested in me or my business, can they? A generic approach to pitching journalists works in a similar way – it shows that you aren’t interested which is not the impression you want to give.
  2. Getting the name wrong – OK, so this has to be a classic own goal. It can be tricky if you are sending out a number of emails but you just need to stay on top of your game.
  3. Pitching the wrong thing – yes, I’m beginning to sound like a parrot but research, research, research. If you are’t pitching the right stuff then you’re wasting your time. And, if you don’t know what to pitch then go and do your research to find out or get someone to help you.
  4. Pitching the wrong person – pitching is a bit like a recipe, all the pieces have to fit together in the right order. Finding the right person is key and you have to remember that that may well differ from story to story so don’t make any assumptions.
  5. Lack of relevance – you’ve got to know what the journalist wants but, more importantly, you’ve got to tune into what their audiences want.
  6. Pitching multiple people in the same office/team – sending out a bunch of emails to names on a list can easily get you in a pickle. Pitching to multiple members of a team just looks sloppy. Research your media list and tidy it up and then tailor your approach.
  7. Pitches that aren’t timely – timing is more important than perfection. Sometimes, you just have to get it out there. Other times you may well need to hold back. If you want to pitch an idea for an article but see that that same topic has just been covered then you need to re-think because they won’t cover exactly the same subject in the same way, will they?
  8. Lack of availability – a classic blooper. If you are pitching an idea or a story then make yourself available to handle the journalist’s questions or requests for more information.
  9. Over familiarity – think about how you respond when you get an email like that in your inbox. It really doesn’t do any good so best not to try it.
  10. Rudeness – OK, no excuse for this one. No one owes you profile, media exposure or coverage. Take your frustration out elsewhere. If you’re not getting the results you want from your pitching then get some help.

The good news is that the blog post addressed the balance with comments from PR professionals about pitching journalists. Both professions suffer from a poor reputation. Much of that stems from the bad press each gives the other. Ho hum.

The key for everyone who pitches a journalist, PR professional or not, is to take a targeted approach as much as possible to find out what they want, how best to give it to them and then to stay in contact and become a useful resource for information, comment and ideas. You may not be able to do that with every media contact but you should certainly do it with the ones that are your priority.

In a nutshell: Anyone can blast impersonal emails to journalists that aren’t relevant or targeted but that can be a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall. Some of it will stick but it’s not permanent, it’s not pretty and it can create a right old mess.

What’s been your experience of making pitches to journalists?

For advice, tips and support including pitching journalists then enter your email address in the box below to access 7 Quick and Easy Ways to Get Media Visibility.

Image credit: Debbie Leven

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: How Not To Pitch A Journalist – 10 Pet Peeves

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