You lost a journo so off goes one more down that bottomless pit that is PR inferno. We get it. Pitching to journalists is tough. By now, everyone knows that for every one of them (journalists), there’s about six of us (PooR unfortunate souls).
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard this a zillion times.
And yet, here you are.
Still making the same mistakes.
Obviously, you’re not making those mistakes on purpose. Think about Kate Hudson’s Andie in that what its name movie, desperately trying to make Matthew McConaughey’s character dump her – now that’s what we call “on purpose”.
Still, something still isn’t hitting home as you’re yet again staring at that empty inbox, hoping for a reply (or even an email open at this point, we can be honest, we’re among friends).
So, let’s see if a bit of reverse thinking works for you, because enough is enough.
Here’s our very own guide to not only losing a journalist in ten days, but getting blocked.
1. Send a generic pitch
You know when you’re on a date and you’re trying to find out more about a person, but they just give you generic responses like “I like reading in my free time” or “My job is great but it’s challenging to maintain a good work-life balance sometimes” or “Books are better than movies” – that’s generic. And that’s exactly what journalists think when you send them a story full of platitudes and old news.
2. Fake exclusivity
Imagine finding out a person you’re dating exclusively (or so you thought) is actually dating around, after they were explicit about wanting to date only you. A bit of a bummer, isn’t it? While journalists don’t really get emotional about finding out the story you pitched as exclusive isn’t exactly that, their bruised ego is not your friend.
3. Spray and pray
Even if you get the journalist’s name right, there are still telltale signs that the email they received has also been received by at least a hundred other people. And no one likes feeling ordinary and unspecial. Especially if the only thing you actually like about them is the publication they write for.
It’s like going after a guy only because he’s ripped, not caring about his excellent taste in music or his interest in a particular game of fantasy-genre D&D.
4. Going on and on (and on)
No matter how newsworthy or groundbreaking or *insert that adjective that just came to mind* your story is, if you do not make your point in the first hundred words, you won’t get so much as a reply.
Think like a writer, or better yet – an editor. Cut out the noise, the fluff, the clutter, and your pitch will be all the better for it.
When pitching, think like a writer, or better yet - an editor. Cut out the the fluff and the clutter, and your pitch will be all the better for it. Click To Tweet
5. Pitch a story not relevant to their beat
I have this friend who went out on a date with a girl that has three cats, which he knew all about from her Tinder profile. And yet, there he was going on and on about this other friend of ours who breeds dogs. Is he for real, you might ask. Of course not! But I hope you get the idea.
Imagine what it must be like for the journalists. Say one writes about fashion, and there they are, sipping their morning matcha tea latte, browsing through their inbox, only to find your perfect little subject line about – cat litter. What do you imagine happens next?
6. Me me me
We’ve all been there. It’s your first date, and your date only talks about themselves, not asking you a single question, in fact – it seems like a well-rehearsed story they might be telling to someone else in your place. Ring any bells?
Similar to spray and pray, this is a situation when your pitches are all about your company, or your product (if you’re pitching to tech journalists). There’s no tie-in to what the journalist is writing about or how this would be valuable to their audience. And unlike you telling your friends about the awful date you had, the journalist won’t even remember you.
7. THAT follow up
Sending a “follow up” email that starts with “I hadn’t heard from you yet so I just wanted to follow up ” is the king of cringe. Just imagine sending that to a person you went out on a date with once. It’s just cringy. Stop now. Ok, maybe get it out of your system one more time, but that’s it.
8. Forget about the story
So there I was sitting across from my date, having just asked what they did for a living, only to be treated to the full specifications of their job. No story, no background, nothing. It was like I was back in the office, forced to attend a presentation on how to use a new software.
It’s the same for journalists when you pitch them something that would’ve been better suited for a quarterly report. Your humdrum rundown of the facts is not a story- and it will not make them care.
Your humdrum rundown of facts is not a story - and it will not make journalists care. Click To Tweet
9. Spam the journalist with every little event that’s happening in your company
You got a response, maybe even some decent coverage from the journalist. And you think that will guarantee coverage for every single piece of news you pitch them. Think again. Just like someone can decide to stop seeing you after you text them on the hour about pretty much nothing, a journalist can just as easily block you if you keep spamming them.
10. Call them by the wrong name
If you really want to turn a journalist off before you’ve even introduced yourself, simply misname them, and save yourself the trouble of having to send a follow up, then negotiate the backlink – I mean, who’s got time for that anyway, right?
Your heart is probably not in it anyway and you’d do better to direct your energy elsewhere. Like “pursuing a different career” elsewhere.
If you got this far reading, you really mean business. Here’s not one but TWO BONUS TIPS for all of you who want to ruin all their chances at ever getting media coverage for their stories:
BONUS TIP #1: Pitch the journalist on social media
We’ll admit we’re in two minds about this one at PR Power, since some journalists explicitly invite pitches in their DMs. However, if you see they mostly tweet pictures of their cats, pitching them on social media is a surefire way to get yourself blocked.
BONUS TIP #2: Inform the journalist that another publication already covered your news
Do you talk about your exes on your first date? Exactly. So what’s the point of telling the journalist that the story you’re pitching them has already been covered by someone else? Exactly.
Did we miss anything? Share this guide on Twitter with your bonus tip, and let’s help even more PooR unfortunate souls!