Journalist Offers PR Pitching Tips

Ragan’s PR Daily recently ran an article titled, “Five Tips for PR Professionals from a Journalist.”

The author, Amy McCarthy, is a content strategist and editor in Dallas. She’s had a lot of PR pitches thrown her way, and some of them haven’t been very pretty:

“Reading pitches from publicists is part of my daily life as a content manager and Web editor, and sometimes they’re just cringe-worthy. When PR is bad, it’s really bad,” she writes.

Here are Amy’s top five pitching tips:

1. Do your homework. If you’re going to pitch me, it’s probably worth getting a little more information than that little blurb that Vocus gives you. Go to my site, look at some of my content, and see what we’re sharing! If you’re not a good fit, nothing that you can say is going to make you a good fit.

2. Do not mislead me. I know that every PR pro reading this blog is going to say that they’d never do something like that, and the majority wouldn’t, but there is a serious lack of disclosure in the PR industry. If a brand sponsors your expert client, you need to make that clear to me. My site isn’t for shilling products; it’s for providing value to my readers.

3. Understand that I am busy. I’m running an entire website and am extremely busy. There are plenty of things I could (and need to) be doing other than uploading your content to my site and making sure that your client’s name is properly italicized. Be respectful of journalists’ time. If you wouldn’t want them bugging you to death, don’t do it to them. Emailing me daily to ask whether your article is ready isn’t going to get it published any faster.

4. Check yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I get pitches with my name misspelled, horrible grammar, and other crimes against English. Spend a little time going over your release and making sure everything is correct. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but if I were to take you on a tour of my inbox, you’d believe that a significant portion of the public relations industry hasn’t met spell- or grammar-check.

5. Provide me with something good. As a publicist, I know you’ve got to say that everything about your client is magical and wonderful. Unfortunately, as a journalist, that really doesn’t do much for me. I don’t want to hear about your “new and improved this or that,” but I would really like to hear about how your “new and improved this or that” is helping families save money, or how your “new and improved this or that” showers its purchaser with the finest jewels. Give me value, and I’ll give you coverage!

Good tips, Amy! Thanks for sharing them. There are probably many others that could be added to this list, but here’s a final tip written from my perspective as a former journalist:

6. Make my job easier. Because I’m so busy, the more you can provide me with relevant, factual information that is meaningful and targeted to my audience, the more I’m going to appreciate you and quite possibly reward you with coverage. And when I see a pitch from you in the future, I’ll take it seriously because I know you’re a credible PR person.

Don Beehler provides public relations consulting services to advertising agencies and businesses.

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