Seven guaranteed ways to annoy a journalist with your pitch

As a journalist, I receive more than 200 pitches in my inbox every day and when you're wading through swathes of emails, you become cut-throat.

Following up too quickly will not win hearts and minds, warns Anya Meyerowitz
Following up too quickly will not win hearts and minds, warns Anya Meyerowitz

What you might have patience for at 9am becomes the ultimate bug-bear by 2pm and by 3pm it's an offence that will see your thoughtful pitch deleted.

Here are seven guaranteed ways to annoy a journalist with your pitch, based on my own experience and those of my journo colleagues:

Speaking in jargon

This one’s easy to do because we can all become desensitised by our own industry lingo but it’s your job as a PR to act as the middle person who can ensure that the brand makes sense to journalists and the journalist’s process makes sense to the brand. I don’t want to have to Google what your acronyms mean or what an industry-specific term is.

Adding images as a ‘download only’ link

Adding an image to your pitch is basic sales psychology, ‘people buy from people’ and this works in the same way with journalists. If we can see the product, person or service that you’re pitching we’re much more likely to take notice. What is incredibly frustrating though is adding images to a download link. I don’t want to scroll through 50 product shots – so pick the best and embed it.

Following up too quickly

We know your client is on your back, we know your boss is too, but that’s down to you to manage! I can’t take your work pressures on as well as mine so give me a chance before you follow up.

Not checking the copy you send

This happens so often when I ask for quotes or copy from an expert. Although we know it’s the expert who has written the content and so the mistakes are theirs, it’s your job as the PR to make any copy media-friendly and that means editing out mistakes.

Sending PDFs

I know that we’ve all been taught that PDF’s look sleeker but they’re particularly painful when you’re trying to copy and paste crucial brand information and quotes. I want something that makes my job easier rather than something that looks fancy.

Sending samples to the chosen few

We all know that it’s not possible to send samples to everyone, but it pays to be mindful of which publications are in the same building. I often see a press release for a product that I know my colleague at another publication has been sent. It feels like someone saying: ‘We might as well try your publication but we’re not that bothered’.

Adding ‘high importance’ to a timely pitch

This happens a lot and I can’t help but feel the same thing each time I see it: how arrogant. It’s a topic hotly discussed at lots of the publishing houses I’ve been at, what really justifies that abrasive red exclamation mark?

And the answer is… rarely anything!

Anya Meyerowitz is a freelance journalist and editor and founder of PR coaching service, The Publicity Project

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