Public relations professionals are constantly evolving, learning and observing right along with the peaks and valleys of the media and changes in technology. While many of us have learned to never neglect the spell-check feature in our email, we are still vulnerable to these common mistakes when pitching media. In the spirit of Halloween, avoid these scare tactics in your media outreach:
Scare tactic #1: Pitching a story already written
If public relations had one golden rule it would be ‘know what reporters write about’. Journalists appreciate good ideas and they appreciate it even more when those ideas are original. Avoid this common pitfall by staying up to date on what reporters are covering, doing a Google search of recent stories before you pitch and asking yourself if the topic you’re proposing is in fact brand-new and original, or just an addendum to a story they have already written.
Scare tactic #2: Using buzz words and hyperbole
As PR professionals we believe that our clients and their products are fantastic. Heck, even life changing, so why wouldn’t a reporter seize that extraordinary pitch and write a riveting 3-page feature on your client?
One guess is that your pitch lacked the juicy, newsworthy story reporters (and readers) care about and was trashed with useless buzz words about your client or product. If your pitch has any of these words or statements attached – “most innovative”, “revolutionary,” “number one in”– toss it and rewrite. Reporters write stories not accolades.
Scare tactic #3: Forgetting the storyline
PR professionals must demonstrate creativity and outside-the-box thinking in order to secure great coverage for clients. That creativity is why clients hire PR agencies and why reporters ever talk to us in the first place! Pitching nothing but hard news or press releases without a storyline gets us nowhere. The fast-paced digital age and 24-hour news cycle requires that we create value for a reporter and his audience when pitching hard news. Tie it to a larger trend, a timely topic or controversy and watch sparks fly between the reporter and your pitch.