Good lessons from bad PR pitches – October 2022

The Muck Rack blog gathers ‘em, I break ‘em down.

Catch up on past editions: September, August, July

See a three-year quantitative analysis of journalists’ complaints on Twitter here.

Two journalists debate: Are PR people useless, or invaluable?

Props to a sharp-eyed reader who flagged this fascinating Twitter debate for me. I’ll let Simon and Matthew’s takes speak for themselves, but share an additional observation. The silent factor driving their opposite opinions is something that journalists don’t talk about openly – leverage. Matthew gets that PR people can get him access to executives he otherwise wouldn’t be able to talk to. He even acknowledges that he can strengthen his relationships with PR folk by going through them even when he doesn’t need to.

On the flip side, Simon is frustrated when media entrepreneurs aren’t familiar with his Substack newsletter and podcast, so he prefers to work only with those who are. That’s totally his prerogative. The takeaway for you: Don’t stress when a journalist says he won’t work with PR people. Keep reaching out until you find the ones who recognize the value you deliver to build their own cachet and a network of sources. Those journalists are the ones who recognize that they’ll gain more leverage by working with you.

Don’t overgeneralize these pointed criticisms

[In case the link doesn’t load, it’s the dumpster fire gif]

If you pitch workplace issues or blockchain, you could look at these tweets and get nervous. But take them specifically at face value – they only mean don’t pitch quiet quitting to a science editor (John), and don’t pitch blockchain to a sports editor who focuses on soccer and Olympic sports (Andrew). These gentlemen are fully entitled to those state preferences. Although both issues have lost their novelty, there are still journalists who focus on those relevant fields who will be very much interested if your SMEs have anything new to say about them. Just not science and sports editors.

Helpful journalist’s tip for awareness months

I LOVE LOVE LOVE when journalists don’t merely complain, but recommend the professional behavior they’re asking for. I bet Brittney’s tweet will become a go-to reference for hard-working agency pros whose clients are missing deadlines related to awareness months. Side note – it could be that this particular offending agency didn’t realize that Hispanic Heritage Month starts in mid-September, not the beginning of Oct.

Local means local

Edmund works for Community Impact, which has the word “hyperlocal” in its Twitter bio. Not a huge leap to deduce that you should only send them stuff for the very locale they are reaching. My guess is that agency reps fall into a rut of “national vs. local,” where local comes to mean in their heads, “small markets that aren’t national outlets.” And it’s true – people in Asheville, NC very well could be interested in your brand of coffee mugs. But if there is no tie to Asheville, then Community Impact won’t be covering you.

How to not write quotes

I want to keep this column upbeat and encouraging. But these are too good not to share. If I wanted to make up stereotypically vague and over-hyped quotes, I could not have achieved this greatness. Turning to sympathy, I imagine somebody’s client yelled, “We have to get something out for Cybersecurity Awareness Month!” and this was all the agency team could come up with.

Funny tweet comparing product pitches from 2019 to today’s

Side note – Christina shares a lot of funny material and seems like a fun person to hang out with. I got way distracted from writing this post by reading her timeline.

Obligatory mail merge fail


This article was originally published on October 27, 2022

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