Pitching members of the media is hard. There are so many different types of publications, each with its own set of parameters. Then there are all the different personalities. Some writers like pitches that are dry and buttoned up, where others prefer loose and fun.  And that’s part of the work, isn’t it? Defining your target publications and then homing in on the right contacts in the right way.


But differences aside, there are a few “don’ts” that if avoided will exponentially increase your success rate when you are pitching journalists. These are my personal preferences, but I am far from alone. If after you read this you think, “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” read this article from HubSpot, which is based on a poll of over 500 journalists.


  1. Coming out of left field

I know that a lot of publicists and brands use digital pitching platforms to streamline efforts. While I prefer individualized pitching in general, automating the process can be a time-saver and a potential way to reach new members of the media. However, if you are going to use automated tools, take the time to fine-tune your list so your timing and subject matter are appropriate for the people you are reaching out to. After all, it’s pretty annoying to be on the receiving end of pitches on topics I never cover.


  1. Phone/social media pitching

I know that some journalists don’t mind being pitched by phone, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. Answering a call from a strange number only to have the caller launch into a long pitch about their product or company… not my favorite. I would rather receive a thoughtful pitch and, if necessary, a gentle nudge by email. If you can’t find my email address or if I don’t respond after few well-timed emails, then try pitching via DM on one of my social channels, but not on my public feed. The free world does not need to know who you are pitching.


  1. Not being a stellar host

While some journalists are salaried employees, many, like me, are freelance. In either case, our time is as valuable as yours. If you invite me to an event or a desk side, try making it easy for me by offering to meet somewhere that is convenient, providing reimbursement for transportation, offering lunch, or something along those lines. It’s not bribery, it’s merely a thank you to a journalist for taking the time—which is often unpaid—to hear your pitch.


If there are any publicists reading this, try hosting events where you can introduce journalists to many of your clients at once, rather than pitching one client at a time. It’s more budget-friendly for the brands and it’s super-efficient for journalists. And we appreciate that!


  1. Aggressive follow-up

Following up is good. We all receive too many emails, so it’s always possible that your pitch was lost in the shuffle or ended up in a SPAM folder. But, allow at least a couple days to pass before reaching out –unless your pitch is time sensitive (and if it is, maybe you sent it too late to begin with?). If you follow up a few times and get no response, you might need to move on. We all try to respond to as many pitches as we can, but we are often buried in deadlines. It’s not personal.


  1. Being unreasonable

If your brand or product is mentioned incorrectly in an editorial, keep in mind that while individual blogs are generally easy to tweak, large news sites are not, and changes can put the writer in a precarious place with their employer. If the mistake was yours, include an apology with your request for a change. If it was the writer’s mistake, there’s no need to overtly point it out when you ask — they’ll know. In either case, there are no guarantees that a change can be made (especially if there are syndications) but be gracious no matter the outcome.


If your product/brand/expert quotes were not included in a piece and you want to know why, asking is ok, but ask nicely. It could be something inconsequential, like that the colors didn’t work in the layout, but sometimes you may learn something valuable, like that the writer didn’t have a great experience with the product, or perhaps your CEO’s quotes didn’t accurately answer the question. No matter what, be understanding and try to create a building block to the next opportunity rather than communicating how disappointed you are.


Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, personal finance, lifestyle, parenting and retail.


In addition to monthly “Best Buys” segments on local network stations in New York City and Washington, DC, she has appeared on dozens of TV shows, including Rachael Ray, Inside Edition, CNBC and network affiliates nationwide.


Trae has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn and a top personal finance expert by GoBankingRates and FlexJobs. She is a contributing editor at Woman’s Day magazine and her writing and expert commentary have appeared in Forbes, USNews.com, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, MSN, Yahoo Finance and numerous others.


Trae is co-founder of the media coaching firm, One Take, and the cult cosmetic brand, Three Custom Color Specialists. She is also a frequent speaker at conferences such as FinCon, Alt Summit and Mom 2.0 Summit.