Get a group of people from Match.com together and ask them: Ever gone on a bad date?
Now, get a group of editors together and ask them: Ever cringed at a press release?
Chances are every single person answered with a resounding “YES,” followed by their painful stories.
That’s because mismatches and awkward moments are bound to happen in pitches from PR pros as often as they happen in online dating.
The relationship between the journalist and the public relations professional is mutually beneficial at best: Journalists can use PR pros for tips, a heads-up on great campaigns, events, and story ideas, while PR needs writers to, well, write about their clients.
But just like the best dates, great pitches are hard to come by.
Here are some of the ways to help your press release avoid getting the ax:
1. Stop pretending we’re BFFs.
I know why you’re emailing me. You want to sell me something—let’s not kid around.
A nice, “Hope you’ve been well,” or an innocuous weather remark is a fine introduction, but an, “OMG it’s been SO long!!!!!” is just plain awkward. We haven’t been out for drinks, and you don’t even know where I live (I hope). Being polite is fine. Being clingy and over-the-top friendly is weird.
I despise pet names in relationships, but I hate them among professionals even more. I would avoid the use of “babe,” “girl,” “chief,” or even “YOU!” (And yes, I’ve received all of the above in emails—this month.)
If you don’t know the name of the person you’re contacting, I’ve got a catch-all solution for you: “Good afternoon” or “Good morning.”
2. Speak in plain English.
A press release or even an introduction among peers isn’t the place for Internet lingo. I know I’m not your boss, but throwing around the words of the Web makes you sound immature.
Kill any unnecessary industry jargon and never use “OMG” or my personal favorite, “LOL.” This is a press release, not an IM conversation.
The same goes for smiley faces and an obscene amount (OK, any amount) of slang. If you think you’re a “hip cat,” then that’s fine, but don’t try and tell me that “ladies will luv this!!!!!” Chances are they won’t.
3. Don’t sign off with anything other than your contact information.
Again, please leave the hearts and smiley faces for your significant other, your grandparents, or your binder in third grade.
There’s a lot of debate about how to sign off on a professional email, but the overall rule is to be courteous and professional and then mirror the behavior of the recipient, as the experts suggest.
On a first impression, signoffs like “love,” “xoxo,” or “hugs,” just aren’t appropriate.
4. Don’t send me incomplete information.
This one is simple: Make sure you’ve told me the “who, what, where, why, and how,” and include your contact information in case I need to follow up.
Not doing this is like telling me you’re treating me to a shopping spree at Tiffany—and never telling me the date.
Press releases that are set up this way, with brief introductions and essential details, actually are an editor’s best friend (or, BFF).
It lets us scan information quickly and then decide what to do next without having to spend precious time only to find out it’s not a good fit for our publication.
All the back and forth is a waste of your time as much as it is ours.
5. Don’t try to pitch me five different things in one email.
I’m going to be blunt here: Work keeps us busy.
We don’t have time to read about the ancient history of your company and what the founder said at the last board meeting about the new initiative she is undertaking with the charity she sponsors from the college she went to.
Lost yet? Bored? Yeah, so are we.
Like any good relationship, communication is key. I don’t want to delete your press release, but sometimes I feel like you’re forcing me to. I want this to work out, I really do.
Just do your part, and I promise I’ll do mine.
Here’s to a long and happy marriage between PR pros and writers.
Chloe Thompson is an assistant editor at TMG and thinks that almost everything in life can be explained through a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off quote.
A version of this post originally appeared on engage the blog.