Here at PRNewser, we often post lists of best/worst practices in media relations. We’ve done the pitching thing and we know how hard it is; it’s nothing if not an imprecise science.
This week, our friends at Hubspot have called upon their team’s knowledge, along with “journalist gripes from Twitter and from in-person interviews,” to compile a second annual “S#*t PR people do that journalists hate” project.
Here’s the slideshow:
We especially love the part about copy-and-paste pitching and the hook ’em first email trail leading to “more information.” These context-free pitches often come from robots (we think) or people based overseas, but there has to be a there there, right?
After the jump, some additions to the list from us and our Mediabistro colleagues.
-Pitching a story that has already been covered
People work together on accounts, lines get crossed, etc. We get it. But the MB team has definitely received multiple pitches for things we already covered both from different agencies and from within the same agency.
As we laid out in our friendly note to production studios on AgencySpy last week, this sometimes happens several weeks after the original post went live (usually in order to get a second round of media attention for a client). There’s no clearer sign that someone isn’t paying attention.
-Transparently self-interested attempts at flattery
One of our fellow writers tells us that she often receives pitches that read something like “Really liked your piece on X, so thought you might be interested in posting on something completely unrelated!”
We see what you did there, but why not just be upfront about it?
-Randomly mentioning someone on social
This is a very effective way to get a given person’s attention, but it’s usually kind of weird. In a particular instance, a rep gave one of our colleagues an “h/t” on a post unrelated to the client they wanted her to cover.
(And she still ignored the next pitch.)
-Requests that we “jump on a call” with the client’s CEO
We already know what the CEO is going to say — he/she is going to talk about how his/her company’s new ad tracking/content management/influencer ranking software is going to change the industry after giving us a 45-minute demo.
In most cases, though, these pitches don’t address the “why,” which is really the most important part of the equation. Unless you’re contacting a trade publication sponsored by an industry group, the CEO is probably not going to get a thousand-word profile, with or without a full-length photo…so maybe he/she needs to temper those expectations a bit.
This is especially true if you’re proposing an in-person meeting. Unless the client is either an Apple insider or someone with an exclusive on the real Beyoncé release (not the fake one), we are going to have to say no.
-Stories with no angles
This is a pretty basic one, but we hear it all the time: email pitches that inspire “what’s the angle here?” responses. Assume that the question “What does this client have to give our readers?” precedes the interaction and be aware that the answer will in most cases be different for every contact.
Reporters aren’t dumb, but they’re not always geniuses, either. A little push in the direction of a larger story is almost always appreciated…unless you cross the line and tell people how to cover something.
Now, for the record, we would LOVE to do a corresponding “s#*t journalists do that PRs hate” slideshow. But that’s dangerous territory…