Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Media pitching is a crucial part of public relations, it is the way that PR professionals communicate with journalists to cover stories and get them out there for the world to see. A public relations professional's role is to introduce your product or service to your target audience and offer insight on it with hopes that a journalist wants to connect with you to cover it in more detail.
As easy as sending an email sounds, there are certain things you must watch out for when trying to make the right first impression. These mistakes can be made easily when it comes to media pitching, so we're sharing the biggest no-no’s that will lead you in the right direction and avoid making these huge mistakes.
1. Have a boring or extremely long subject line:
Journalists receive countless emails of pitches in a day, so it is in your best interest to make the subject line compelling while keeping it as short as possible. Journalists are most likely to ignore anything that sounds generic like, “great story for your art magazine” or something that sounds like spam mail. You want to do your best to avoid typing in all caps, excessive emojis, and repeating words - if your email happens to make it past spam, it will most likely end up in the trash bin. Instead, offer something new and exciting in the subject line and be sure to deliver and not just use an enticing subject line as bait.
2. Not doing your research:
Personalization is everything, most pitches go ignored because they are not relevant to the specific journalist it was sent to. They would also like as much information on the story or event as possible, again, with the least amount words. This will also help save time because we all know that time is money. No journalist wants to spend his/her time reading a media pitch that does not pertain to the beat they write about or that sounds like it was sent to the rest of your media list. Make sure to do your research of who you are pitching to avoid a lack of personalization and losing credibility.
3. Lack of Preparation:
Preparation is everything when making a media pitch, it makes your job a lot easier throughout the pitching process, as well. For example, if you pitch and get a response for a media kit, but you do not have one, that's time wasted on both ends and the journalist could move on to another story. When well prepared, you will be able to answer any questions the journalist might have, making your job and theirs a lot easier. Preparation also means that time was taken to fully understand the subject that is being discussed and potential story ideas to share. Be willing to get more information and insight on your client that can help the reporter.
Pro Tip: Send out a media kit with your pitch. This should include supplemental materials that can answer any questions the journalist may have. That way they don't have to keep emailing you and waiting for a response. Making their job easier gives you more of a chance to get your story covered.
4. Emailing At the Wrong Time:
You must be strategic when sending out a pitch. Avoid pitching on the weekend, evenings, holidays, or when tragic news has struck. Chances are, you won't hear a response back, and if you do, it might not be the nicest reply. The reason these times are not ideal is because your email is very likely to get lost and will probably never be seen without a follow up. Instead, shoot for the beginning of the week in the morning. Unless the person you're pitching specifies an exact day and time, these are proven to be the best pitching times.
5. Beating Around the Bush:
Taking too long to get to your point is never a good idea, it makes the journalist lose interest immediately. They don’t want to take time reading, “Hi, how are you doing? This is…” As always, just get straight to the point. Only provide the information you would like the journalist to cover. Journalists receive hundred to thousands of emails daily and do not have the time to read anything longer than 2-3 paragraphs. If its too long, it will go ignored.
6. Being Pushy:
If a journalist has not responded to your media pitch by the next business day, this does not mean you should send a follow up email right away. Journalists have an extremely busy schedule and many deadlines. Allowing a week’s time frame is key to following up etiquette. Also, if they chose to not cover your story it is best to keep it moving along. There will be other journalists who are willing to cover your story, and you don't want to miss out on them because of one person.
We hope this list of media pitching don’ts helps when attempting to send your own. All that matters is that you strategize a plan, execute to your best ability, and do not get discouraged.
If you need consulting or help with your public relations efforts, People's Revolt offers many PR services that can help grow brand awareness, create beneficial relationships, and increase sales. Let's revolt against the norm together!