As a media monitoring and analysis company, MediaMiser often finds insightful lessons in Twitter data. However, it doesn’t take an extensive monitoring regime to pick out these valuable pitching lessons for public relations from @DearPR and @SmugJourno:
Follow-up in a timely manner
If a journalist doesn’t respond to your pitch, it’s reasonable to reach out again—but follow-ups should be timely. It’s also important to create a completely new email when following-up with a journalist, no one likes an unsolicited “RE:” email.
Lesson: Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race!
Can anyone beat a 27-week wait for a PR to reply (casually) to an email??? pic.twitter.com/x6pn6PGcfO
— Andrew Ellson (@andrewellson) May 23, 2016
Personalization (or lack thereof)
Personalization is everything when it comes to pitching a journalist. From understanding their audience to knowing how your client or product fits into their narrative, personalization and adaptation are key to gaining media coverage. However, with the advent of marketing automation and email marketing, the ability to mass-email journalists sometimes outweighs the courtesy of sending a personal email. Lack of research and personalization can, unfortunately, have the same results.
Lesson: What you save in time you lose in potential coverage!
PR pro tip: if your press release has an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom, I’m not interested.
— Blair Hanley Frank (@belril) May 25, 2016
How the best press releases start. pic.twitter.com/NPoCYzhClW
— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) February 12, 2016
Dear PR folks,
Cold call pitches makes me cringe. Especially when you don’t know the beat that I cover. pic.twitter.com/cJ8O54ZXAs
— T.C. (@TamikaCody) March 24, 2016
As the old adage goes, time is money—that’s why PR professionals need to be as concise as possible when it comes to their outreach efforts. Journalists only have a certain amount of time in their day to address the pitches they receive, so the more aware you are of this, the better.
Lesson: Keep your pitches short and sweet!
I just received a 2,400-word pitch. What do they teach in PR classes?!
— Andrew M. Seaman (@andrewmseaman) March 8, 2016
Offer the entire package
On top of being concise, it’s important to include all of your information and multimedia with your pitch. More importantly, everything should be sent at the same time to prevent frustration on the journalist’s end. Arm the journalist with everything they would need to write an article based on your pitch.
Lesson: Get to the point or get out!
Dear PR people, don’t email me telling me about the things you could send me. Either send them in the first email or don’t email me.
— Jana Kasperkevic (@kasperka) May 18, 2016
Don’t email me to ask if you can email me a pitch. That just results in to two emails that I’m going to ignore.
— Andrew Tarantola (@Terrortola) March 9, 2016
Yes, inviting journalists to your event is a great idea to generate more coverage for your brand or client. However, consider where the journalist is located before extending the invite.
Lesson: Similarly to personalization, make sure to do your research before pitching a journalist!
Dear PR person, thanks for giving me a press pass to your event in ENGLAND. Do you plan to pay travel expenses? Nope. Didn’t think so.
— Nicole Tanner (@nicoletanner) February 23, 2016
As someone who commonly has their name misspelled, I understand how important it is to address someone properly—especially when you’re trying to pitch them. Double-check the spelling of your contact’s name by referring to their email address or social presence, and consider having someone proofread your release and subject line to ensure that everything is spelled correctly.
Lesson: Sometimes four eyes are better than two.
it’s lindsay with an a. you know, like how it’s spelled in the email address you used to contact me?
k thanks byee
— Lindsay Kaplan (@lindsaykap) April 7, 2016
Even though they’re aware that it exists, no one likes to know that they’ve been fooled by clickbait. That’s why all public relations and communications professionals should be transparent and accurate with their subject lines and release headlines. No, this doesn’t mean that you have to lose all sense of creativity when it comes to your pitch—just don’t mislead your audience.
Lesson: Transparency and accountability go far when building media relationships!
PR person clickbaited a pitch to me by putting “Star Wars” in the subject. Pitch had nothing to do with Star Wars. — Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) October 22, 2015