10 PR behaviors that scare off reporters

by / October 22, 2015

PR pros’ media relations strategies can run from excellent to downright scary. Though some journalists might like to get spooked during the Halloween season with a scary movie or a haunted house, sending them overly aggressive pitches or becoming too personal won’t endear you to them.

Here are 10 behaviors that can put a nail in the coffin of a PR pro/reporter relationship:

1. Following up too soon. Some clients want a pitch sent on Friday and a follow up email or call to go out Monday.

That’s a too aggressive; the reporter probably hasn’t had time to weed through the pitches they received last week to read your original email. Give it a little time.

2. Sending a poorly written pitch. Reporters will have trouble seeing past typos, misspelled words, grammatical errors and run-on sentences to get to your point.

Proofread—and get another set of eyes to review that pitch before you hit send.

3. Pitching or following up on a Monday. Midweek or Friday better.

Many times, reporters can be more responsive toward the end of the week. That may be because they’re receiving fewer pitches than earlier in the week when their inboxes are flooded.

4. Calling. Your email didn’t get a response, so you’ve decided to pick up the phone.

Think again. Unless you have an established relationship with the reporter, calling is probably best reserved for truly breaking news. Even then, email should be your first choice.

5. Issuing threats. “I’ll assume you’re not interested, if you haven’t responded by Thursday.”

This sounds like an ultimatum and probably won’t sit well. Reporters give us deadlines, not the other way around.

6. Being unreachable. You’re the PR contact, so it’s your role to be reachable and responsive.

If you pitch the day before you leave town on a two-week vacation, include a contact who can be reached in your absence or share an email address someone checks on a regular basis.

7. Requesting to review the piece before it’s published. This isn’t how PR works, although there are clients who seem to believe otherwise.

PR contacts or clients won’t be able to review the article before it’s published; it’s not a paid ad. Occasionally, a reporter might ask you to review a portion of the piece for accuracy, but this doesn’t happen often. If they don’t ask, don’t go there.

8. Getting too personal. Many PR pros research journalists’ personal interests using social media or their own blogs before they pitch. You can use this to relate to them—and if you relate to them, maybe they’ll be more likely to read your pitch.

However, this can go too far. Mentioning personal information when pitching must be done appropriately. Don’t come off as creepy.

9. Not personalizing your email. Journalists will immediately dismiss form emails. Worse, some PR pros misspell reporters’ names or use the wrong names.

10. Not treating them as a priority. Wise PR pros know that when you get a reporter’s attention, that’s takes priority. Don’t wait three days to get back to them.

If you’re proactively pitching a story, be ready to respond with additional information before you even send out the pitch. If they ask for something you don’t have, or ask you question you don’t know the answer to, do your best to get it to them in a timely fashion.

Via Michelle Garrett at PR Daily

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