Oftentimes, I’ll receive PR pitches that are complete misfires. Some lack ingenuity. Others are plagued with grammatical errors. Then there are the pitches that are completely irrelevant to my line of work.

 

Should a tech editor be receiving updates on the new Ralph Lauren Summer 2019 collection? Why does this email sound exactly like every other one sitting in my inbox? Is this pitch even addressed to me?

 

To ensure you never fall victim to these PR blunders, let’s look over some of the worst ways to pitch media outlets, as well as some recommendations on how to fix them.

 

Know My Beat

Some PR companies make the mistake of categorizing journalists based on the publications they write for instead of their field of expertise. Others are lazy and rely solely on purchased marketing lists, which 9 out of 10 times feature incorrect or outdated information.

 

For instance, I’m a lifestyle writer who specializes in men’s grooming and tech. Yet, somehow, my inbox is flooded with pitches for new baby care products, flower arrangements, and meal delivery services. See what I’m getting at? Know a writer’s beat before wasting their time, as well as yours.

 

The Solution: Google is the greatest resource you have. Perform a search and look over my most recently published work to gain a better idea of what I’m working on. If not, ask me what I’m writing about these days, which will create dialogue and open the lane for pitching.

 

“You Do Know I No Longer Work There… Right?”

My biggest pet peeve is receiving emails about a publication I haven’t worked for in several years. That’s because most PR firms get lost in their databases, which are rarely updated. If you’re pitching me with the intention of getting coverage on a website I’m no longer associated with, don’t expect much of a response, if you receive one at all.

 

The Solution: Most writer’s first move is to update their LinkedIn and social media pages with their current home. Tap into the social-verse and see what sites are hosting their content. Also, contact the journalist via email to ask whether they’re still writing for a particular publication or working with a new one. We don’t bite!

 

Sliding Pitches into my DMs

Beware: Some journalists hate receiving pitches over Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, as they like to separate business from their personal life. Unless given the permission to do so, don’t cross that boundary and end up barred from communication on every platform.

 

The Solution: Be professional. Use LinkedIn. That’s what it was built for. See whether the writer has a website with their contact information available. If all else fails, you’ve established a solid network of industry peers – reach out to a close PR friend or editor and see if they have any leads.

 

Your Pitch Lacks Creativity

If I can’t connect to your pitch, then I can’t co-sign the product or service you’re selling. It’s the clever, well-thought-out pitches that draw the most interest. They’re playful in tone, creative in context, and highlight a product’s biggest strengths without sounding so technical.

 

The Solution: Start by thoroughly researching a publication’s core audience and content. From there, you can determine the proper angle and language for your pitch. Then list the ways that your client’s product benefits the publication’s reader base.

 

Greeting Me Without Greeting Me

Editors, reporters, and even freelancer writers – we can all have delicate egos. We’re receptive to pitches that acknowledge us first and break down your client’s new, cool product second. It’s a common courtesy.

 

When you send out an email addressing us as “Hey,” “Hey there,” “xxx,” or by a completely different name, it shows you’ve taken little effort to personalize this pitch. Too much copying and pasting, along with a heavy reliance on email lists will leave you on the receiving end of a snarky reply, or no reply whatsoever.

 

The Solution: Take a few seconds before hitting the send button to ensure every pitch is personally addressed to the receiver. Also, follow that up with an engaging question (ex. Enjoy the holiday weekend?) or some playful banter to break the ice before diving into the specifics.

 

Alex Bracetti is a lifestyle writer based out of New York City with over a decade of journalism experience. He specializes in numerous categories including consumer tech, gaming, fashion, pop culture, sports, and men’s grooming. You can find many of his features on popular sites such as Tom’s GuideMen’s HealthComplexThrillistAskMen, and more.