Off Pitch: Five Ways to (Really) Annoy an Editor


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One of my favorite things about my work life is that I get to wear two hats. One as a PR and Marketing pro and the other as a travel and accessories editor and contributor to several outlets including Nicole Magazine. Getting to wear the editor hat is such a privilege because it allows me to experience firsthand the things that PR pros do that drive editors bonkers. There are some repeat offenses that I see over and over again that always lead me to hit the delete button. Here are five surefire ways to annoy an editor in a pitch:

Send the same exact pitch from-or-to-different email addresses

Seems obvious right? However, in this modern world of mass or blast pitching, some publicists don’t check for duplicates when they pull a list. A PR firm that shall remain nameless sent me the exact same pitch for a product I already told them was not a good fit. I received emails from three different account executives on the same day. I now hit delete when I see a pitch come in from that agency.

What to do instead: Assign one person to manage a single pitch, or at least check in with one another to ensure there is no duplicate effort. Manually check your list to ensure you don’t have multiple emails for a single outlet, like info@, hello@, etc. Pitches should be personalized to the editor at the publication, but if you are sending out a mass pitch, make sure your list is clean.

Choose not to include pricing

Every outlet needs to know the prices or price range of a product line, whether it is a luxury publication or a budget conscious outlet. Prices help editors determine if the item is the right fit and also place items in stories.

What to do instead:  Don’t be shy about listing pricing. It might even make sense to do so in the subject line. For the right outlet, something like “The most flattering pencil skirt is under $50” could be a winner. After introducing your product images, include pricing and direct links for each look featured.

Pitch something that has nothing to do with the editor’s scope of coverage

This is single-handedly the biggest reason why publicists can get a bad rap. Off-topic pitches are a waste of everyone’s time. If an editor covers women’s fashion, don’t pitch them a baby toy.It really does pay to do a little digging to find out what an editor has written before you pitch. Off topic pitches are a sure fire way to ensure your pitch will go straight to the trash bin.

What to do instead:  Take a quick look at recent stories, either through the outlet itself or social media, and ensure you are pitching something relevant, and something that hasn’t just been covered. If an outlet puts out a “Best Boots for Winter” roundup, and you have a great pair to pitch, wait a few weeks or pitch a fresh angle.

Pitch a HARO without following the instructions listed

For the uninitiated, HARO or Help A Reporter Out  is a resource that editors and reporters use to source material for stories. Writers can list their needs and instructions for pitching in a blast that is disseminated to PR pros and those in the know. The newsletter is distributed three times per day. I have found that for every HARO, query I have listed, at least 50 publicists fail to follow the explicit instructions I have listed in my request. I don’t even read those pitches. I immediately delete.

What to do instead: Read the query very carefully and double check you have included all the relevant information before sending.  Some common HARO infractions include pitching well after the deadline listed in the HARO, not pitching to the email listed, sending the editor an email instead of a direct reply, and of course, pitching off-topic.

Send an email newsletter-style pitch

Editors are not interested in receiving news of your latest collection in the same format that you send email newsletters to customers. Also, an email marketing-style look and feel is an immediate clue that I was most definitely part of a blast pitch. These pitches generally are missing descriptions, pricing and product background information that I like to skim through when being introduced to a new product or brand.

What to do instead: Embed image collages directly into your personalized pitch.

What have you learned to never do when pitching an editor?

PS: For more easy-to-implement tips on how to pitch editors and bloggers that land coverage, (without making anybody go crazy!), check out Pitch Perfect: The PR Couture Guide to Fashion Media Coverage

Photo Credit: [BOOX]

Lori Riviere

Lori Riviere

Lori Riviere is the founder of The Riviere Agency, a boutique full service integrated marketing, PR, social media and events firm with offices in New York and Miami. She has worked with clients assisting them with sales, marketing, PR, social media and fashion show production. Her lifetime in the industry gives her a deep understanding of what it takes to build a successful brand. Lori has worked with top brands such Oscar de la Renta and Tory Burch as well start-ups and small businesses. She and her team also handle production and front of house PR for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week shows in New York and Miami. She has placed clients in major magazines both in the US and abroad, national television, radio, fashion blogs and major social media influencers as well as celebrity seeding. .