As a writer, I have a strong relationship with words.
They’ve always been there when I needed them, and in return I’ve offered them the respect they deserve. But there are certain words that are the verbal equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Case in point: “Moist” and “synergy.”
They make my soul shiver.
But there are two words that go against everything that my years as a writer have taught me: email blast.
I know what you’re thinking. “Email blast? What’s wrong with email blast?”
It’s not repulsive like one of the aforementioned words that I can’t even bring myself to repeat. And it’s not “synergy,” or as I like to call it: A crutch used by The Future Business Leaders of Tomorrow who don’t know what they’re talking about today.
And I see your point. There is nothing offensive about the sound of “email blast.” In fact, I like both words separately. But put them together, and it’s a different story. I have a problem with what email blast means. When someone suggests that I send one, it’s like she’s plunging a dagger into my heart. Follow it with “to your entire media list,” and it’s like she twisted the knife.
As a former journalist (and a current human being), I’ve learned a few things about the dos and don’ts of contacting the media. Sending a one-size-fits-all mass email pitch to the media is more than your average don’t.
The media consist of people. People who are not so different from you and me. So a simple rule when emailing members of the media is treat others like you would like to be treated. Do you like getting junk mail? I didn’t think so. A mass email pitch is basically spam.
Instead, send something personal, even if you don’t know that reporter personally. Do your research—reporter style. Make sure the event you’re pitching is something this particular reporter would cover. There’s nothing more annoying than a public relations coordinator who asks you to pass something along to the correct reporter.
(Well, that and the self-declared “word bird,” who called to say there’s a “mistake” on the front page of Tuesday’s paper.)
Reference a past article the reporter wrote and suggest why the event you’re pitching would be of interest to them. Don’t be afraid of looking a little bit like a stalker. If anyone understands the occasional necessity of stalking, it’s a reporter.
Plus, what’s the worse that could happen? It’s not like there are restraining orders on the Internet.
Try reaching out on social media. Twitter was designed to allow you to talk to people who it would be totally weird to talk to in real life. Form a bond and help a reporter get the information they need. Suddenly, you’re a source. Pretty soon they’ll be coming to you for the big Sunday front-page story.
Once you see the success you have by building a personal relationship, you, too will cringe at the word “email blast.” “Moist” and “synergy” might be my own hang up.
Kellie Bramlet works at The Black Sheep Agency, a Houston-based creative agency specializing in non-traditional public relations, social media and experiential marketing. A version of this story first appeared on the agency’s blog.