Securing coverage from influential journalists can do wonders for your company’s lead flow and brand exposure.
But pitchin’ ain’t easy.
Some journalists get up to 500 pitches per week, so as marketers, it’s our job to make our emails relevant and worthwhile.
To understand exactly what writers are looking for in their media pitches, my team at Fractl surveyed over 500 online journalists, staff writers, contributors, and editors and asked them to rank their pitching pet peeves.
Here are six simple mistakes to avoid when you reach out to media or bloggers.
1. Pitching Content Not Relevant to a Writer’s Beat
This is journalists’ number one pitching pet peeve.
Or actually the industry’s most offensive pitching practice.
It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many journalists say they receive beauty and health pitches for their political column.
Pro tip: use tools like Muck Rack, Twitter, and the writer’s archives to research their beat and interests before pitching.
You catch more flies with honey (and five minutes of extra research).
It may feel strange to dig deep into a writer’s archives and find the perfect article from 2013 to reference in your pitch, but from my experience, they’ll appreciate you took the time to check.
2. Your Pitch Misses the Publication’s Vertical
I can’t tell you how many journalists have complained about “blind pitching” during my time in marketing.
Beyond doing individual research about a writer’s beat, we need to ensure we’re contacting the appropriate publications.
Check into the site’s history to ensure your target hosts external content.
Are you pushing lifestyle content on a tech publication?
Are you pitching overly promotional content to a publication that reports strictly on studies?
These are a few of the small, simple, (and obvious) things to avoid that will set you apart from the other 499 emails in a journalist’s inbox.
3. You’re Sending Too Many Follow-Ups
Knock, knock, are you still there?
No one likes to feel ghosted, but it’s a harsh reality in the pitching world.
As much as we don’t appreciate the silence, writers take offense to excessive follow-ups.
According to our research, most writers say one to two follow-ups are appropriate.
Any more than that and you run the risk of annoying your contact.
Sure, some emails get lost in the shuffle, and journalists often appreciate the reminder.
But don’t push it.
Sometimes we just need to take the hint: silence is as tacit rejection.
4. You’re Too “Self-Promotional”
Let’s get real.
Our ultimate function within the online news industry should be to provide helpful and relevant resources.
While your content is, at its core, a marketing tool, it should be understood that writers aren’t interested in promoting your brand.
Instead, they’re looking for material that will inspire a story that readers will love.
Excessive internal links, product placement, or logo stamps will take away from your content, and ultimately, deter journalists from publishing it.
Do the legwork ahead of time and make sure your content serves both the audience and your brand.
5. You Still Like to “Pick up the Phone”
From robocalls to incessant sales messages, people aren’t too keen on answering their phone anymore.
Cold calling ranked as the fifth-highest pitching pet peeve.
Avoiding it is simple.
Don’t press “dial”.
Step away from the phone …
We live in the digital world, and as it turns out, most writers prefer to keep it that way.
If your email is constructed the way it should be—including all relevant information and materials—there really should be no reason for a phone call.
6. Your Mass Email Blasts Spam Like a Pro
It may seem like sending bulk email blasts to hundreds of journalists is a sure-fire way to gain coverage.
I promise you’re making more enemies than friends.
These templated, mass pitch emails lead to immediate distrust from your contact and may even land you on a spam list.
It’s better to send out 15 highly-personalized and researched emails than to send an email blast to 100 writers and run the risk of getting blacklisted.
Pro tip: if you have a piece of material that’s better suited for a news release style format, change up your approach! News releases—with actual news—can be an exception to this rule and an easy way to increase visibility for your content.
Perfect Your Outreach Style to Avoid Journo’s Pitching Pet Peeves
The key is to make your content stand out, remain respectful of journalist’s preferences, and strategically plan your outreach.
Keep these mistakes in mind when pitching your next piece of content, and feel free to change up your routine.
Creating personalized and well-researched pitches should feel like you’re building a relationship with a contact.
You’re not selling them on your content.
Always keep one universal truth in mind: we’re all real people behind the keyboard.