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6 cringeworthy tactics to avoid in your pitches to reporters

By Bright Ewuru

A man cringing.PR people are well aware that cold emailing is part of the media relations cycle. Being a regular practice, however, doesn’t mean that it should be done tactlessly. These tactics demands that you be masterful with your approach. Otherwise, you might end up in the bad books of a reporter or editor.


Even worse, your email might end up in the trash. Here are some tactics and openings you should avoid when pitching reporters:



1. Wasting time on obvious issues 

Whenever you pitch a reporter or editor, keep in mind that they are super busy. Do away with the idle talk of telling them that which is already obvious. Instead, get to the point instantly. It’s a sign that you respect their time.


2. Faking familiarity

There are very few things more annoying than pretending to know a reporter or an editor when you actually don’t. Acting like there’s a prior relationship when there is not is quite unprofessional. It raises eyebrows and will most certainly backfire.


The issue with this method is that it suggests dishonesty and comes across as insulting to a person’s intelligence.


Instances of faking familiarity include:

  • Using an overly casual greeting
  • Using “Re: *whatever topic*” as the subject line to give the impression that you had previously discussed the topic together


3. Assuming a reporter already knows what you’re talking about

You pitched the reporter or editor. It is in your best interest to make the message you are communicating clear and concise. The reporter is not a colleague in your office that you can casually chat with.


Introduce and explain the subject in order to gain their attention. Do away with industry insider terms and corporate jargon. They might not be the reporter’s cup of tea.


4. Getting too clever

Leave your bag of tricks at home. When it comes to cold emailing reporters and editors, don’t try to sell water to a well. There’s a huge probability they’ve been there before. And truth be told, no one likes being patronized.


Be as sincere, straightforward, and honorable as can be. They already know the possible cards PR pros could pull to get their attention.


5. Faking enthusiasm

If the news or story you’re pitching doesn’t create any natural ripples or shivers, then don’t force it. Trust us on this. There’s no need for exaggerations.


Reporters and editors have their ears to the streets and are well aware of what’s hot and what’s not. If the story you’re pitching doesn’t seem newsworthy, we strongly recommend you do some more work on it.  


6. Disrespecting a reporter’s time

Frankly, reporters and editors have their hands full. This can’t be overemphasized.


If you have something to say, then say it quickly. Don’t ask for attention when you have nothing to offer. Poorly formatted and haphazard communications should be avoided.

These pointers are here to make you aware of common mistakes to steer clear of when pitching reporters. Axia PR has oodles of tips for PR pros. You’re welcome to sign up for our PR hack of the week.  


Photo 177244068 / Black White Business © Mykola Kravchenko | Dreamstime.com

Topics: media relations, earned media, news media

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