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A place to discuss terrible public relations and marketing.

Wednesday

18

February 2015

Some Really Bad Advice For Pitching Journalists

by Conrad Updog

Today our main man Ed Zitron, founder and proprietor of this here blog, was shouted out in a post advising PR people on ~alternative~ methods of pitching journalists.

You might think that a post including a tweet from Ed would have Good PR advice, or at least that Ed would like it.

In this case, you would be wrong, for I have it on good authority that Ed found this post, on Prezly, to be the drizzling shits.

Let us dive in and explore the very depths of bad, unconventional publications relations wisdom found in "Five PR Pitches to try before you die."

The idea of the piece is that pitching people via form emails is boring and unsuccessful and bad, which we would tend to agree with.

But the suggestions here are just gouge-your-eyes-out atrocious sauce. For instance, this:

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DO. NOT. WANT. Getting a busy journalist to read your pitch email is a challenge that roughly 90% of PR pros struggle with.

Asking that same busy journalist to click a link to a fucking VIDEO PITCH is an additional step that really no reporter would ever want. Even if they do click on the link for the video, they will probably be pretty annoyed at you for wasting their time.

The most likely result will be that they share your crapola video with their friends on Twitter and make fun of you. Also, they will remember you as "The PR Guy Who Sends The Fucking Video Pitches."

Next, the author, a man named Max Tatton-Brown, suggests that you should purchase a promoted tweet to spread your story to, uh, a bunch of "targeted" but still kind of random-assed journalists.

The whole reason form email pitches are bad is because you haven't taken the time to make them relevant to the individual person you are emailing. As an aside, no individual has ever looked cool purchasing a promoted tweet on behalf of themselves.

Tatton-Brown also suggests a revelatory pitching method he calls "the (really) indirect pitch."

His gameplan? Actually taking time to form a real relationship with a journalist before trying to get them to cover some dopey startup.

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FYI, this is the section where Eddy Z gets his shoutout!

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While this section is actually good advice, it's sort of baffling that it is the third suggestion in a list of PR plays that are supposed to be outside the box. If "speaking to journalists" is not your No. 1 default option, 100% of the time, what the fuck are you doing in PR?

Next, it is suggested that you send a pitch that is one sentence. It is perhaps a good idea to boil your thesis down to a single sentence, so that you can concisely state what you're getting at. But chances are, your entire pitch needs more than one sentenece of explanation.

From experience, it is super annoying to get a pitch that only gives a hazy idea of the details, requiring the journalist to send a follow-up email asking for more information.

Finally, Tatton-Brown offers his final piece of advice, which is the only piece of wisdom any PR pro will ever need. Frankly, he could have skipped the whole rest of the article in favor of these two words, and all of us would have been better off for it:

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Conrad Updog

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