As PR pros, we all know there are those media pitching fails that journalists loathe. There are surveys telling us what they prefer and advice on how they like to be pitched.
But, did you know that there’s actually a Twitter account where journalists share these #PRfails?
Yes! @SmugJourno retweets reporters’ #PRfail tweets.
It’s a fun account to follow, as not only are many of them laugh-out-loud funny, but you can gain some valuable insight into what NOT to do when pitching journalists.
Another PR triumph. Email addressed to: Dear First Name. #fail— Winsor Dobbin (@winsordobbin) May 7, 2016
A classic PR 101 mistake. No reporter is going to feel special when you make this error.
the warm hug of a PR email beginning "dear media"— brad esposito (@braddybb) March 25, 2016
And then there’s this. No matter how long you’ve been doing PR, I swear, there will be clients who will ask this question. And, the answer is always going to be NO—so please don’t ask:
Dear PR people, school your contacts that NO, you don't get to review my article before publication, esp. when I'm not quoting. #offensive— Kurt Marko (@krmarko) May 10, 2016
And, when it comes to reaching out, what’s the best way to contact the media?
Advice for any PR person considering calling me to let me know they're about to email me: don't.— Denham Sadler (@denhamsadler) May 6, 2016
Then there are reporters who believe you should never call them, for any reason:
dear pr people, PLEASE LITERALLY NEVER CALL ME ON THE PHONE THAT IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS FOR xoxo julia— Julia Reinstein (@juliareinstein) May 11, 2016
Then, there’s a lot of debate as to whether pitching via social media works. Here’s a tactic that obviously failed:
While we’re talking about social media, yes, you can use it to get know a bit more about journalists. But, there is a line:
Dear PR people, mentioning details about my personal life will not win you points, just creeps me out.— Joanna Borns (@robotics) April 13, 2016
And for those wondering if they should attach anything to an email pitch, here’s some advice:
Dear PR industry, Attaching a release as a pdf, rather than a doc or in the body of the email, makes me 63.4% less likely to use it— James Andrews (@FinanceJames) April 18, 2016
It’s usually best to cut and paste the information into the body of the email. Another tactic some still use in media pitching is an embargo, when reporters are pitched in advance of an announcement but asked to hold the information until a particular date and time. When it comes to embargoes, some in PR wonder if they work—here’s one reporter’s take:
dear pr people, describing a press released as "embargoed" does not make me care about it more— Standard Definition (@briandroitcour) February 15, 2016
Now, let’s talk about how to get a reporter’s attention. They receive so many email pitches--what’s the best way to ensure your pitch stands out?
Pro tip for pr: If I can't determine why your pitch is relevant to me from subject line or first two sentences of your email, you've failed.— Kim Zetter (@KimZetter) April 6, 2016
dear pr: do not EVER send me an email with a subject line of "hi." just "hi." nothing else. it's weird. don't do it.— Tess Townsend (@Tess_Townsend) March 30, 2016
Of course, we all know a well-written pitch matters. How about proofing your pitch? Is that important?
And, if you’re cutting and pasting your pitches, use care:
Dear PR person who referred to me as editor at Nation, Salon, Atlantic & Huffpo IN ONE EMAIL: your cut-and-paste game needs work, son— Richard Kim (@RichardKimNYC) April 5, 2016
Finally, it’s always good to make sure you’ll be available when you’re the contact on an announcement:
What kind of psuedo-professional puts their name as the contact for a press release, and then goes on leave two days later? #prfail— Christian Roselund (@croselund) March 2, 2016
That’s a sampling of what you’ll see on @SmugJourno. If you need some media pitching lessons—or just a laugh—it’s always a good place to turn.
Michelle Messenger Garrett is a public relations consultant, speaker and award-winning writer with more than 20 years of agency, corporate, startup and Silicon Valley experience. She works with clients ranging from small businesses to enterprises such as Adobe and HP, assisting them in crafting and carrying out a PR strategy to help them get the word out, get noticed and increase visibility, prospects and sales.
Photo: No via Shutterstock