PR and press. They go together like love and marriage. Cats and Boots. Peanut butter and fluffernutter. We can’t do our job without you, and you can’t do your job without us. But let’s be honest here for a second: sometimes we can get on each other’s nerves. Yes, I know how infuriating it is when we press critters break embargoes or drop a story two days too late. Yes, I’m sorry about it.

 

But no, this rant isn’t about all the reasons you have to get grumpy with the press. I’m here to help you stay on my better side. Or, at the very least, get my attention without rubbing my fur the wrong way.

 

In short, here are the five worst ways to pitch me; or, put another way, the five sure-fire ways to make you “accidentally” get caught in my spam filter.

 

Don’t send me decent images

 

I know we’re supposed to be all about the messaging here, but I can’t repurpose your press release or review your product or interview your CEO without a pretty picture or three to run with alongside the words. Send me a press release with a Drobox or Flickr link to high-res images, and your email goes straight to the top of my to-do pile. Because it makes my life that much easier, and when you make my life easier, I want to make your life easier. Simple as that.

 

Embed a 200-pixel-wide pixelated thumbnail in a PDF (and on that note, please stop sending press releases in the formatting nightmare known as PDFs) and I’m just going to have to come begging for a better image. Or, more often than not, I’m just going to run a story from someone who sends me good photos.

 

Pitch me vaguely


I recently got a pitch that went something like this. “Hey, (insert big historical anniversary) is coming up soon and our company played a part in that big event. Wanna interview someone about it?”

 

Sure, I say.

 

“Great, can you send me a list of questions via email?”

 

Hang on a minute here. Who am I interviewing, specifically? And why? Were they there at the time? Did said major event influence the company’s future in some way? Or inspire a new product?

 

I’m not expecting you to write the story for me. That’s my job, after all. But if you’re going to come to me with an idea, give me something to work with other than the fact that you need some ink and there’s some tenuous connection between your company and the thing everyone will be talking about in a few weeks, but you really don’t understand that connection, nor do you have any clue what message you want me putting out into the world. Give me at least a couple of ideas about why this is a story worth telling. I may disagree with those ideas completely and go my own way, but at least it’s a place to start.

 

Don’t respect my time at trade shows

 

Trade shows like CEDIA Expo and CES are a weird and hectic place, and on any given day walking the halls and perusing the exhibits, I might visit between twenty and thirty different manufacturers. And truly, I love the time I get to spend with each of them, discussing the future, ogling new products, swapping business cards, etc. But every show I go to, there’s always at least one PR person who seems to think their client is the only reason I booked a flight and reserved a hotel room on my own dime.

 

Off-site exhibits are the worst. And look, I understand that a booth on the official show floor is bananas expensive. But in the time that it takes me to make a “quick” cab ride over to whatever out-of-the-way hotel you’ve booked a suite in to see your new thing, I could have visited four or five other vendors and seen their new things instead.

 

Equally frustrating are demands for appointments. And I know the worst thing in the world for you is to have a rush of press people one minute and crickets for the next two hours. Appointments certainly keep things moving smoothly. For you. But from a press person’s perspective, they’re nearly impossible to keep. You only have a spot for me at 11:30? Well, I need to be on the other side of the convention center at 11:45, and your next-door neighbor claims they can only squeeze me in at 12:00.

 

Unless I specifically need to interview someone on your team (about something specific, please), the best way to pitch me on a trade show booth visit is to let me know what I’ll be seeing and why I want to see it. If it’s compelling enough, I promise I’ll swing by at some point during the show. And if that means I must stand around, waiting five minutes for you to get free, so be it. That’s honestly a more economical use of my time.

 

Forget which product categories I cover

 

I completely understand that the consumer electronics industry is a diverse playing field, and perhaps you don’t know that I mainly specialize in high-end audio electronics and home automation. Or hey, maybe I’m trying out a new beat. So, if you pitch me a TV review? No harm, no foul. I’ve got a guy for that. A new Bluetooth speaker? Eh, you know what? It’s close enough that I might bite. But a quick glance at the current state of my inbox reveals a couple of pages worth of pitches for cannabis vaporizers, air purifiers, and, ahem, “marital aids.”

 

If the above can occasionally be forgiven because, hey, at least all those things are powered by electricity, there’s absolutely no excuse for the torrent of pitches I get that have absolutely nothing to do with the electronics industry in any way. For the record, I have never written a word about Meghan Trainor, much less her bae’s junk, and I don’t intend to start now.

 

You can add to that list: cookbooks, musical instruments, and walk-in tubs, all of which have been pitched to me as potential news in the past few months. For a website called Home Theater Review. No, seriously.

 

Know which product categories I cover, but just don’t give a damn

 

I recently received a pitch to review a tortilla toaster. I assumed, of course, that it had to be a mistake. So, I replied: “Thanks, but that’s not my beat. At all. I cover mainly high-end audio, home theater, and home automation.”

 

End of story, right?

 

Wrong, unfortunately. The response I received back was, and I quote, “The HomeTheaterReview.com​ audience deserves to know about this magical device, lol.”

 

Look, if you’re going to hit me with a cutesy initialism, at least have the decency to not pair it with a comma splice. I understand that “no” is a tough pill to swallow. I’m met with it all the time when I want to review some cool new preamp or wireless music distribution system and there just aren’t review samples available. Or the outlets I write for simply aren’t mass-market enough to get one.

 

But if I tell you in no uncertain terms the product that you’re pitching has nothing to do with what I cover, much less what my audience expects to read, don’t double down and tell me I’m wrong. Say thanks, and perhaps put me in the “no tortilla toasters” section of your CRM.

 

Dennis Burger spends most of his free time watching Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Critical Role. He also somehow manages to find room in his schedule for technological passions including high-end audio, home automation, and video gaming. In addition to serving as senior editor for HomeTheaterReview.com, he also contributes to Cineluxe and Residential Tech Today. He lives in the armpit of Alabama with his wife Bethany and their four-legged child Bruno, a 75-pound American Staffordshire Terrier who’s convinced he’s a Pomeranian.