The Muck Rack blog gathers ‘em, I break ‘em down.
Catch up on past editions: Feb., Jan., Dec.
See a three-year quantitative analysis of journalists’ complaints on Twitter here.
Subject line “tricks” rarely end well – instead, they get you blocked
For a while it was a thing to insert “Re:” at the beginning of a cold pitch subject line, because then the journalist would think it was a conversation they were already in and be more likely to open. Not only dishonest, but stupid as well. These tricks that follow aren’t so obviously flawed, and that’s what makes them more dangerous. Younger PR pros may assume “that’s just how you do it.”
An email hit my work inbox titled "BREAKING." It was a PR pitch. I let the person who sent it know it is ill-advised to send any pitch that is clearly not breaking news to a newsroom. What did they win? A spot on the blocked email list. #neverdothat
— Jana Calkins (@Jayhawk96) March 9, 2021
Jana goes on to explain in the replies that she blocked the sender – not a good outcome for someone who wants to reach her station.
PR pitch from someone who clearly doesn't understand the word NEW pic.twitter.com/MS8OAhcTMx
— Anne Riley Moffat (@A_Riley17) March 9, 2021
I’m not saying you should never use “breaking” or “new” in a subject line. Just make sure what follows is consistent with how your target journalist defines those words.
Why themed holidays are the worst time to pitch
One of the most common genres of journalist tweets is “I’m drowning in [insert upcoming themed holiday] pitches!” See the IWD item near the bottom of this post. But those journalists never address the inherent paradox – PR people pitch around those days because journalists do stories pegged to those days! I’d like to thank Jennifer for succinctly explaining here what those more superficial tweets take for granted.
I wish more authors and PR agents understood that Earth Day is the worst day of the year to pitch a green story, because every outlet in the nation feels obligated to publish something enviro that day. There's 3x or 4x more competition than usual.
— Jennifer Weeks (@JenniferWeeks83) March 18, 2021
A new genre is developing – the non-journalist podcaster newly flummoxed by lazy PR pitches
Have you ever watched a young child process inappropriate behavior from other kids at the playground? That innocently confused reaction is what we’re beginning to see from podcasters who have been discovered by PR pros. These are often non-journalists who’ve achieved success in other fields – maybe speaking or consulting – and now suddenly their inboxes are filling up with unsolicited PR pitches. The unprofessionalism and lack of strategy is at first more confusing to them than annoying.
Here's a #PR pitch I just received.
Lazy & generic. Who'd respond well to this?
"Hi [Mark], your show is incredible!
Lots of awesome lessons in these episodes, so thank you so much for putting it out 🙂
I have 2 perfect guests for your show that has so much value to share….
— Mark C. Crowley (@MarkCCrowley) March 16, 2021
In the replies, Mark gives the simple antidote to this common pitching flaw.
That's just it. I seriously get 3-5 pitches a day from #PR reps asking if their client can be a guest on my podcast. Most of the time, they know nothing about my theme or focus. They just want clients booked. What a mindset.
— Mark C. Crowley (@MarkCCrowley) March 17, 2021
Localizing news good, getting locale wrong bad
My favorite PR pitches are the ones that completely ignore geography. Good for Oregon, I guess. Also got some good news out of Pennsylvania this week that's not going to make the cut here in Oklahoma. pic.twitter.com/jBTuqaCRrC
— Matt Trotter (@mbtrotter) February 19, 2021
This pitch – generously and discreetly shared by Matt – is actually a great strategy, terribly executed. The most common complaint specific to local journalists is getting blast pitches from faraway PR agencies that show zero relevance to their locale. One of the best ways to fix this is to put “state name” or “city name” in the subject line, and then make sure you break out some aspect of your news that’s relevant in that area.
A common way to do that is to call out one of your newsmakers from that place. The other is what’s on display here – you do a national study, and then you break out the results by state or metro or market or however.
Just make sure you send the Oklahoma results to the Oklahoma journalists, and you’ll be more likely to get an interested reply than flamed on Twitter.
Check your scheduled pitches to make sure these aren’t still going out
Just got a PR pitch email wishing me a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Probably time to update your email templates, folks. It's almost March.
— Ben K. (@bkabak) February 19, 2021
Yet another PR pitch titled something like "Predictions and Trends to Watch in 2021". FFS, people, it's the end of February! This boat has long since sailed. #alsohorsemetaphor
— Stilgherrian (@stilgherrian) February 23, 2021
More reminders that “women doing things” is not enough for IWD
We saw this last month in the run-up to International Women’s Day. And it continues. These are useful to show a misguided boss or client. Check out all the replies to the first one from Kat.
Oh hey, it's March which means all the PR pitches that are basically: "Are you aware of women?!"
— Kat Kinsman (@kittenwithawhip) March 1, 2021
omg no more #IWD2021 #PR pitches about a woman who does a corporate job… noooo noooo noooo.
— wanderingsal (@WanderingSal) March 3, 2021
The obligatory reminders not to use mail merge
Just got a PR pitch that starts off with “Hi Kristi.” I am not Kristi. Friendly reminder to my PR friends to double check your copy and pasted pitches. 🙃
— Nicquel Terry Ellis (@NTerryEllis) February 22, 2021
Today in lazy salutations in PR pitches: pic.twitter.com/s4svENNbT9
— Kris Wernowsky (@kriswernowsky) March 2, 2021
This article was originally published on March 24, 2021
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