Leticia McCadden|Jun 12, 2012

Pitching the media to secure stories for our clients is a big part of what we do as public relations professionals.

However, in the digital era, where the media is easily accessible and therefore bombarded with pitches, a small error can easily cause a journalist to ignore you.

Before you hit “Send” on that painstakingly crafted email, check out our list of pitching don’ts to make sure a simple mistake doesn’t ruin all your hard work.

1. Pitching the wrong reporter

Some journalists probably receive 1,000 pitches a day, and who knows how many have absolutely nothing to do with the reporter’s beat. It’s important to do your research and read recent articles by the journalist you’re pitching. Ask yourself a few basic questions: Are the articles similar to the topic you’re interested in them covering? Has the reporter written articles about your competitor? Are they doing a series of stories about upcoming bands and you’re trying to pitch them a story about a new heart medicine? Do your research so you don’t make embarrassing mistakes!

2. Calling reporters at the wrong time

How excited would you be to get a phone call for a story idea at 4:45 p.m. on a Friday about more work? Chances are the reporter you’re pitching is either on deadline finishing up a story or headed to happy hour. Make sure you time your calls appropriately. Research the outlet. What days are their busiest? What day do they go to print? Does the journalist prefer calls on certain days between certain hours? Would they rather be emailed instead of called?

3. Making the subject line of your email pitch a dissertation

To have your pitch stand out among a reporter’s overflowing inbox, write something that is compelling, catchy, short and fits on one line. Try different subject lines and send them to yourself to see how they appear in your inbox. Are you falling asleep reading your own copy? Then write another one; otherwise, you’re headed straight for the deleted folder!

4. Proof your pitches

Enough said.

5. Trying to make your pitch timely for an event/holiday that does not fit

What’s a Valentine’s Day without the kiss, and what’s a kiss without your lips? This year, the nation’s ear, nose, and throat doctors offer a reminder that healthy lips are the key to a memorable Valentine’s Day experience; unhealthy ones can indicate serious health conditions.

This is the opening to a real pitch and definitely does not make me feel warm and fuzzy thinking about Valentine’s Day. Instead, I can’t stop checking my lips to make sure they are healthy and applying lip balm. Eek! Don’t incorporate holidays or events into your pitch that clearly aren’t the right fit.

Got any other pitching tips to add to our list? Share them in the comments!


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