I have been really fortunate to have tremendous success when pitching the media (appearances in over 200 media outlets in two years) and also with interviewing journalists. I’ve interviewed people from the Oprah Winfrey Show, Rachael Ray, FOX, the Washington Post, and more. Interestingly, there has been a common theme in what journalists didn’t want to see in the pitches they receive.
Below are the three of the biggest mistakes people make when pitching the media.
Making it About You
A journalist’s job is to entertain his or her audience. They need to provide a story that is entertaining, newsworthy, and a value to the readers. Pitching a journalist a story about how great you are or how great your service, your brand, or your product is, is an easy way to get them NOT to return your email.
Pitching an entertaining, newsworthy, or outside of the box story that a journalist’s audience would be interested in but listing you as a source, example, or basis of the story, provides a win-win. The journalist gets a great story and you get the benefit of being listed in the article with your name and business, product or service name.
Being Too Wordy
When I interviewed a television anchor recently, she told me that, “Some publicists make it easy for me. They send me these really long emails with no breaks and I just hit delete without even reading it.”
Think of how you feel when you get a long-winded email. Do you want to even read it. I dread those! Now imagine you are a journalist and you get 500-1000 emails per day. Which one are you going to read? The one that is 50 sentences all in a big run-on email or the one that is short, succinct, has stats and facts and maybe even important information bolded?
Your job as someone pitching a story is to make it easy for the journalist. Make sure all they have to do is give your email a quick scan and know right away what you are pitching and if they’re interested.
Pitching the Wrong Person
I am the first person to admit that when I first started doing my own publicity, I would get so excited if I found any contact in the media that I would pitch anybody my idea. I assumed they would just pass it along to the right person. Isn’t that funny? I can’t imagine how many people I ticked off along the way. Especially now that I know how many emails they get in a day. Respect the journalist’s time and only pitch your story idea to the proper journalist, editor, or producer.
If you have a fashion accessory, don’t pitch it to the food editor. If you wrote a business book, don’t pitch it to the Rachael Ray Show. If your political views are very liberal, you might not want to pitch yourself to FOX News (or maybe you do for a great debate). I’m sure you get the point. Make sure you are sending your idea to the right person at the media outlet you are approaching.
Not making these three mistakes will have a tremendous impact on your future PR success.
All the Best,