3 Reasons Why Your Pitch Gets Rejected

Here's how to take the "lede."

One of the rudimentary principles of public relations is that pitching is not a science, it’s an art.

However, being one of the most important things that we do for our lovely clients, it is crucial we learn to wield a delicate brush with precision. To paint a story you need to color inside the lines with detail and outside the lines with a unique angle.

Do that, and you may have a story in the media to share with your client. Do the opposite, and you can do what most in this business do when faced with the thought of writing a bad pitch — “Uh yeah, I never got a response. Probably just busy.” 

Much to the chagrin of those PR folk, being busy is arguably not the reason the journalist never got back to you. Here are 3 that may be the cause:


1. The sender.

It’s difficult to know every reporter you pitch; however, you should definitely know about them. For instance, do you know how to spell his or her friggin’ name? As a former journo, that is a little important to reporters. Also, are you aware of their beat? I’m sure your tech startup is an admirable company, but if you are pitching the health reporter or an intern, there may be a high chance that your email gets “filed” immediately. Also, there is this thing called the Internet… or the internet. Whatevs, AP.

2. The subject.

A couple of things here, if I may. If you ever BCC a cornucopia of reporters, you should be grounded from your Cision database for at least six months. That says to the reporter, “Hey, um, you? Like I care about this subject, but here you go. Thanks, bruh or babe. Meh.” Another thing is, if you are the PR in your agency who believes filling your sheet of “Buzzword Bingo” is the most fulfilling thing in your day, might I suggest an application to become the next fry guy? Keep your subject line intriguing and get rid of weak attempts like, “Developing synergy with healthcare innovators.” Or something like that.

3. The first sentence.

Three words all PR pros should fear exists in what isn’t in the first sentence of any email. It’s called “burying the lede.” (And yes, that’s spelled correctly.) Are you sure you know what is the most important part of what you are selling? And contrary to popular opinion, your client’s name may not be that important to be in the first sentence. Do you have a strong idea? Do you offer a different point of view rather than any list an editorial intern can locate on Wikipedia? Answer those questions and the lede may be in front of you.