Survey: 8 terrible PR practices that will doom your pitch

Fractl polled 500+ journalists about their top peeves. Here’s what you need to know.

Ah, the good ol’ relationship between journalists and PR professionals.

Calling it “complicated” just skims the surface, but we do need each other.

Fractl surveyed over 500 journalists for a report about what makes journalists tick—including what irks them about pitch emails.

PR pros can do a few key things—and avoid others—to improve this fraught but essential alliance:

1. Irrelevant pitches. This is journalists’ top peeve. Do the research. Invest in a tool like Hey Press or Anewstip to find journalists who cover your industry.

2. Too many follow-ups. The Fractl survey found that online writers and editors prefer one follow-up email (or none at all). If you must send one, it should come three to seven days after the initial pitch. Keep it succinct, remind them about your story, and ask whether they’re interested. Provide your contact information, and end with a friendly but professional signoff.

3. Too much self-promotion. Your story—whether it’s a product launch or a brand-wide initiative—must have value for the journalist’s audience. Follow the journalist on social media, and gauge his or her followers by noting which articles they “like” and share most.

4. Cold-calling. This practice is annoying and incredibly ineffective. Instead, develop a relationship with journalists in your industry. Read, share and comment on their social media posts. Then a short, straightforward email message is more likely to get through the other noise.

5. Email blasts. This technique lacks the personal touch that will make the difference for many journalists. Instead, individualize your email messages for relevant journalists who have covered similar stories. Include details about how your story fits their audience and why they will benefit from covering it.

6. Generic angle on a common story. Brainstorm a little. Research similar stories and look for ways to make yours fresh.

7. Lack of personalization. A few personal touches show a journalist that you genuinely think your story is a good fit for them. Do basic research, including the journalist’s name, beat and past stories. Such details make it likelier that your pitch will be accepted.

8. Just emailing a press release. This sends one message: You don’t care. A press release has its place and can help you land a story, but it’s not the only piece to the puzzle.

A version of this post first appeared on the Marx Communications B2B PR Sense blog.

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