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#PR: Does the Pitch Matter?
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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As flacks, we all know how important it is to have communications with journalists and the media at the right times and places. It should also be of no surprise that cultivating personal relationships with members of the media (particularly those who cover your particular area of expertise) as well as trade media editorial staffs (this applies whether B2C or B2B).

PR News for Smart Communicators recently had a very interesting offering on why journalists might delete our email pitches authored by Steve Goldstein. Presuming that your email pitch managed to avoid being dumped in the Spam Mail folder and that the particular journalist looked at the subject of your email as well as a cursory glance at the text of the email before deletion, what would make an email pitch disappear?

The article noted: “It could very well be that the journalist had a very specific need at that precise moment, and anything that didn't fit that need got trashed. You can't help that — nothing to be done in that situation. It could also be that the journalist had recently been laid off and that your email had been forwarded to a supervisor, who was trashing automatically almost everything sent to the departed journalist. Well, nothing to be done about that either.”

This is where knowledge of a publication's editorial calendar as well as a personal relationship with a particular journalist or editor proved helpful. Again, presuming you;ve done your due diligence and your email pitch still gets deleted, what might be happening?

The story offers the following plausible reasons:

1. You pitched the wrong topic to the wrong journalist and/or the wrong media outlet. Did you check to see if the journalist's beat has changed or if the media outlet has changed focus?
2. You sent the pitch at the wrong time of day or night to that particular journalist. Try asking an editor or producer at the outlet what time of day is best to send pitches.
3. Your subject line is neither interesting (to anyone other than people in your company) nor adapted to the needs of the journalist.
4. Your pitch is a news release, not news.
5. The last time you sent a pitch to that particular journalist, it took you a full day to reply when he or she responded to your pitch.
6. You tend to follow up your email pitches with phone calls, which annoys most journalists — and they tend not to forget.
7. You spelled the journalist's name incorrectly.

The above reinforces my earlier point: Cultivating a personal relationship with that particular journalist is time-consuming but pays dividends in the end. Take the time to do your due diligence; get to know the outlet's editorial calendar like you know your own product (especially look for any special issues which dovetail with your product); and ask their help on how you can improve your pitches (since they would have no particular axe to grind).

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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