Anyone who has ever tried to pitch a reporter knows that they’re not always the kindest in their replies. While their curt tone is understood, it’s important for public relations professionals to do everything in their power to avoid the wrath of an overworked and over-pitched reporter. Here are a few examples of common replies:
- Reporters that are angry the pitch seems “too general”
Responses like this are fairly common. Reporters deal with hundreds of emails everyday, so receiving cookie-cutter spam pitches can be incredibly daunting. To avoid responses like this, make sure to personalize your emails. Try to add the journalist’s name, include the publication they work for or allude to articles they’ve written in the past. Any of these additions will make the pitch seem more personal. If you really want to appeal to journalists, you can take it a step further and make a personal connection with them by including something you have in common. For example, did you go to the same university? Do you have any mutual friends? Remember that journalists are people too, and would appreciate humility instead of being treated as an ends to your means. Personalization is key because the same way you hate getting these responses, journalists hate getting templated pitches.
- Reporters who don’t share your sense of humor
While many journalists responded positively to the humor and are excited to see something fresh in their inbox, some bloggers do not appreciate a casual and humorous tone. Responses like this are hard to avoid because it’s impossible to gauge a person’s sense of humor, especially a journalist who has to read hundreds of pitches every day. However, this can be less impossible by getting to know the bloggers and journalists you are pitching. A great way to get a sense of their personal style is to read their previous articles. If they have a more casual writing tone, they’ll probably be more receptive to edgier pitches. However if they have a very dry writing style and tend to stick to facts, you should adjust your pitch accordingly. Mimicking a journalist’s personal tone in the pitch will make it easier for them to envision writing an article about your story.
- Reporters feel the pitch doesn’t fit their beat
It can’t be said enough: know your audience. If you’re pitching boxed wine, don’t send your pitch to sommeliers. If you’re pitching a new sugary snack, don’t send it to an organic foods website. While these tips may seem obvious, it’s easy to get lazy when pitching. However, that laziness of picking a common interest such as beverages, and spamming every journalist that’s ever covered beverages, may eventually discredit you to that journalist. To break it down, avoid upsetting journalists by simply doing your research.
- Reporters who shut you down without reading the pitch
As stated above, journalists receive countless emails every day. That being said, most of them can’t be bothered to read an essay about your product, so those pitches are often moved directly to the trash. The key to getting an email noticed is to be clear and concise. The first obstacle is creating a subject line that piques a journalist’s interest enough to open the email. To do this, stay away from buzzwords like “world’s best” or “revolutionary product.” Once your email has been opened, make sure the very first sentence continues to grab their attention. It can be something funny that makes them want to read more or a compelling and succinct description of the product that gives a clear overview of what and why you’re pitching. The takeaway from this type of response is that you don’t need to provide every ounce of information in the pitch, but just enough to pique their interest and then provide the journalist with ways to learn more on their own.
- The classic “Automatic Reply: Out of Office”
This unavoidable response to pitches is unfortunate and there’s little-to-nothing you can do about it. Just find a new contact at the same company, do your research, make it personal, and keep pitching until you’ve found the perfect match. Remember, it’s their job to cover products just as much as it’s your job to get coverage. Sometimes cross-pitching has to happen, but there doesn’t need to be hostility between you and the journalists because you are both trying to effectively do your jobs. Keep things light, explain why you pitched to them and another person at their company.
To wrap up, pitching is difficult and takes time and practice. It’s really more of a trial and error process to find your pitching niche. Professionals work hard to carefully cultivate the perfect media lists and stylized pitches to optimize media coverage for their clients. The perfect pitch can make or break a campaign, so if you need helping getting your product covered by media outlets, check out Command Partners and our multiple services for startups and crowdfunding businesses.