Just like all of us, reporters are busy. They’re expected to sort through hundreds of email pitches they receive every day. And when you have that much to sort through, you tend to automatically archive the stuff that isn’t interesting.

So in order to break through the noise, PR pros have to craft interesting, creative, relevant, well-thought-out pitches. (Even then, you can still have the bad luck of a piece of major breaking news hitting at the same time as your pitch lands in an editor’s inbox.)

In crafting such pitches, there are a few things that we at Sprocket try to avoid—because it’s what you don’t do that makes all the difference. Without further ado, here’s what to avoid:

  • Mass emails. Please, we beg of you, don’t BCC everyone and their brother. For top tier media especially—but really, essentially everybody you’re pitching—address them by name. We (PR professionals) are all moving past the blanket email pitch that’s impersonal and nonspecific to the person who’s receiving it. We’re better than that. Our media contacts deserve better, and our relationships with them are worth more than that. Cool? Cool.
  • Pitches lacking meaningful details. Please, at least include ideas for which section your client should be included in. And yes, that means you have to read or watch the outlet every now and then. You can’t expect to go in blind, not having read or watched the reporter’s body of work, and then expect to land a big hit. Provide concrete details with each story idea about where said story might best fit in the publication. Reminder: reporters are busy, and the more details you have fleshed out for them, the better.
  • Pitches lacking meaningful story ideas. Don’t expect the reporter to do the thinking for her! (See ‘reporters are busy!’, above.) The onus is on you to provide clear details about the way the story could be reported, sources who are open to being included in the story, and a clear outline of how the piece would be relevant to the outlet’s audience and community.
  • Pitches that are only about your client. Except in very local media or very rare circumstances, nobody cares about a story that’s simply “we are opening / we are launching a product”. Instead, use dat brain of yours to tie your client’s launch/opening with a larger trend in the market or a pattern you’re seeing play out across the industry. Just like in personal social situations, nobody wants to hear stories that literally only about you. PR is like social relationships in that way — when you think beyond yourself, you’ll be better received.

What would you add to the list of tactics to avoid when pitching top-tier media?

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