I was excited this morning to see in my email that I had received a PR pitch. As someone who does a lot of media pitching, it felt deliciously deviant to see how the other half lives, put the shoe on the other foot, see how green the grass was, etc. As I scanned the poorly written, poorly organized pitch for a handbag company, I realized that I had fallen victim to something I hear a lot of media complain about, but had never experienced myself – the blasting out of a press release with no thought about its relevance to the receiver. This bugs. It is hard enough to break through a journalists’ inbox clutter without unecessary, poorly written, innapropriately targeted pitches – no wonder PR gets a bad rap.
What NOT to do:
As I sat down to blog about this experience, I noticed that Strumpette’s Phil Hall had just posted about being pitched at his mortgage trading magazine for a fleece women’s-wear line. Do you see the connection? Me either. At least my pitch was in the same industry.
Phil goes on to list 5 PR Super Uh-Oh Oopsies – a great reminder/refresher that pitching only works when it is relevant and helpful and, shock, includes contact information.
Here’s the first:
1. Media lists that are wildly incorrect. Our friends at Wooly Bully Wear (who, in fairness, have a very nice product line) learned that the harsh way. But in all seriousness, this is the easiest mistake to avoid. Building and maintaining an up-to-date media list is PR 101. It is not difficult to determine which person at what media outlet is going to receive press releases. It is a good idea to update the list at least three times a year, given that the media industry has an uncommonly high turnover rate and last week’s editorial contact might have skedaddled to a better-paying opportunity elsewhere. Thus, do an easy fact check to make sure everyone on the list is still at their job. (I am reminded by a real dum-dum PR person who proudly showed me a media mailing list that included 15 people who were no longer employed at the companies on the list plus one who passed away three years earlier!)