The tables have turned! How journalists can avoid spammy pitches

Apr 03, 2014
The tables have turned! How journalists can avoid spammy pitches

Journalists: we meet again.

There are countless articles, posts, tweets, etc. on how to craft pitches that catch a journalist’s eye; why journalists don’t respond to pitches; how to write a catchy headline; common mistakes PR pros make when pitching—I can go on and on. We hear you. But no one has ever turned the tables on you (honorable mention goes to this post, though), and I’m about to.

Want to know how you can decrease the amount of bad pitches you get (and in turn, decrease the amount of emails you have to delete)? Here are some tips.

  • Be more specific in your beat. In researching reporters, there’s nothing more frustrating than a general beat. “Business” or “Technology” or “Healthcare” is unsurprisingly vague. And sometimes, it’s difficult to pick up on patterns in writing or in specific interests. Giving us a more specific beat or what you’re really interested in writing about will help guide our pitches or even indicate that we need to fish in a different media outlet.  
  • If you get a pitch from a new PR rep, send him/her some guidelines. If you get a pitch from someone who has never emailed you before, throw that PR pro a bone. “Hi Julia, I prefer to write about national, not NYC events. Thanks, though.” Cool, thanks. Noted. As for those who keep sending bad pitches even after several “no thanks” emails…well, I can’t speak for everyone. Plus, your response to a first pitch makes more of a difference than for the fifth or sixth down the road.
  • Get a Muck Rack profile. If you don’t already have a Muck Rack profile, get one. They’re “faster, shorter, and more relevant” because people have to write why the story is appropriate for you and assure that they understand that the pitch is a reflection of their reputation. Just make sure you respond to them all.
  • Work with trusted PR pros. No doubt you have a story you’d love to uncover and write about. If you have a PR counterpart whom you trust, there may be a way to work together that’s beneficial for both of you. Even in passing, mentioning a topic you’ve been interested in lately will help the PR professional understand where you’re headed in your writing. She/he will get the hint.
  • Keep kvetching, but give us something new. I appreciate all the new posts on how not to pitch, but at this point, all the pointers are the same. I keep looking for something I’ve never read before, but it keeps coming back to, “research my writing” and “understand my publication." Give us something new.
  • Understand that the game is changing. Our industries are continuously changing. You’re shrinking, we’re growing. Sponsored content is a thing now. Every company is a media company, and if a pitch isn’t picked up, it can easily be posted on a company’s blog or intranet. So somewhere in the pitches you receive (and perhaps may not read), there could be an opportunity you may be missing out on.
  • Don’t hate. In a comment on one of my earlier Muck Rack posts, a journalist wrote that he didn’t think that journalists need to understand how PR functions. I couldn’t believe it. I say this in all seriousness: we have the opportunity to change the way we interact. But bashing PR pros isn’t the way to start. We need to understand each other, the rules of the game, but it doesn’t mean we need to have the same conversation over and over. So the question is, how do we change it? And where do we start?

Journalists- what do you have to say? Let us know in the comments!

Julia Sahin is a Public Relations and Corporate Communications graduate student at NYU graduating in May. She is a communications freelancer and a monthly contributor to Muck Rack. She plans on doing big things. 

Photo: Woman and laptop via Shutterstock

About the author

Calculated risk-taker, positive thinker, dream-chaser | M.S. @nyuniversity, B.A. @tcnj | Passionate about PR for financial companies | Opinions are mine

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