27th June 2021
24th January 2013 - 5 PR pitching goofs that every practitioner should avoid
So you’ve got a great story, you’ve done your media research, written your press release and are ready to issue it to your target publications and editors.
But your work doesn’t stop there if you want reporters to pick out your story from the hundreds, or sometimes thousands, they receive from PR agencies every single week.
Yet by avoiding a few simple common pitching mistakes you’ll get better results for your clients and minimise the chances of your release ending up on the spike.
Timing is everything in PR and especially so when pitching to a reporter or editor. If they’re on a deadline then they’re simply not going to be interested in any new story ideas.
So make sure you familiarise yourself with their schedules. And don’t, whatever you do, pitch your story on a Friday afternoon. The reason why should be obvious enough.
Weak email subject line
A journalist may have hundreds of email pitches to wade through in any day. Many of them never so much as get opened, let alone read.
Your email subject line may end up being the first and last chance you have. This arguably makes it the most critical aspect to the pitching process.
Always check that your email subject line is succinct, compelling and clearly tells the journalist just what your story is about.
Subject lines in full capitals
If you want to draw attention to your story, you may find it tempting to spell out your subject line all in capitals.
But this is the email equivalent of shouting and more likely to be greeted with a negative reaction than the one you’d hope for.
That’s if your email even gets through in the first place, as many mail filters mark an incoming message as spam if the subject line is completely in capital letters.
The vast majority of editorial departments treat bulk email pitches just like junk mail. They go straight into the trash.
Make your pitches personal to the journalist you’re targeting. Show them how your story relates to his or her readers, reference past articles that they’ve written and show them you’ve put a lot of thought into finding a story that’s just right for them.
Misspellings, typos and grammar gaffes
You stand very little chance of being taken seriously if journalists find spelling, grammar and factual mistakes in your writing.
So never, ever send out a press release without thoroughly proofreading it first, no matter how hard you feel you’re pushed for time.
This is our top five list of common pitching mistakes. But if there are any others that you want to tell us about, or want us to include in our list, then please let us know by leaving a comment below.
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