Journalists have a long history of having an “us vs. them” mentality with PR pros. In their minds, dealing with us is a necessary evil. But can we really blame them when some of us are writing 1,500 word pitches in overly hyped, “sales-y” PR speak or taking the lazy man’s route of sending mass e-mail blasts? Small details like getting the writer’s first name right, understanding what they cover (and what they don’t cover) and if the outlet even still exists helps. Just sayin’.
But there’s nothing quite like experiencing bad PR firsthand. As I’ve come to find out, being a PR pro that freelance writes on the side is a bit like being a sort of double agent (I think a few of my cohorts in similar situations would agree). During my first experience using ProfNet, I was appalled at the number of PR pros who didn’t seem to have read one word of my query.
And you know what? I didn’t have much sympathy for my fellow PR pros. For once, if only for a short while, I had an inkling of what it feels like to be in a journalist’s shoes. While dealing with an influx of e-mails, I ignored pitches that were totally off base (even after several “follow ups”) and only replied to those who targeted their pitch to my request and provided me with the information I needed. No wonder our targets blow off our e-mails and answer our calls (if they even answer at all) in an exasperated tone.
To cut to the chase, show that you have some consideration for the writer you’re pitching and he or she may consider giving five seconds of attention to you and that innovative, cutting-edge new thingy-ma-bob you’re pitching. Or at the very least, have some pride in yourself and your profession; get off your ass, do some research and put a little elbow grease on your pitch angle.
Even if you don’t freelance after hours, try thinking every pitch from the other side’s perspective. Or at least learn what NOT to do:
- Pro PR Tips by Rafe Needleman: His latest book, essentially a compilation of his blog, is a good gift for PR pros at any level and probably a good nostalgic laugh for most seasoned journalists.
- Bad Pitch Blog: a blog that many of you are probably already familiar with, but something I wanted to include anyways.
- Want more reasons why your pitching sucks? Try 15 of them from Shonali.
- Use sites like Muckrack or your own private Twitter list to keep tabs of journalists’ complaints, erm tweets, about our brethren. If you’re lucky, you may even see the rare and elusive tweet about a halfway decent pitch.