How to Avoid Breaking PR’s Cardinal Rule

09.15.2014 | Jaymelina Esmele

Recently, a writer at Newsweek published a story recounting his week-long experiment to read and to reply within 36 hours to every PR pitch he received. Given the volume of pitches that landed in his inbox, it was a noble effort. Some of the experiences he relayed made me chuckle, but a lot of his story also made me cringe as he enumerated the pitches that were completely irrelevant.

We’ve written extensively about the topic of pitching on the Communiqué PR blog and every PR pro worth their salt knows that one of the basic tenets of PR is to appropriately target and personalize your pitch. Nothing will land your pitch in a journalist’s deleted mail folder faster than a pitch that is off base and irrelevant to their beat.

So why do PR pros continue to break this cardinal rule?

Most PR practitioners are exceptional professionals who strive to deliver outstanding results for the organizations they represent as efficiently and expediently as possible. However, it would not be too far-fetched to say that more than once in his/her career, a PR pro has sent a pitch that was off target.  Reflecting back on my own experience, there are a number of reasons why this might occur. One of the most notable reasons is having press lists that are so large that having the bandwidth to do the home work required to develop a personalized pitch and to send the individual email is nearly impossible.

Here’s a tip: Rather than going after say, 100 publications, hone your list to the top 10-15 outlets that are the most relevant to your company/client and that will move the needle for their business. Once you’ve identified those outlets, drill down and identify the appropriate writers, read their articles and follow them on social media. Get to know their beats and the topics they cover. It may take a pitch or two to pique their interest, but being laser focused on the outlets that matter and reaching out to journalists with news and story ideas that are relevant to them, will reap greater benefits.


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Filed under: COMMUNIQUÉ PR, EXPERTISE, Strategy

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