The 7 Most Common Mistakes Publicists Make

Before I was in PR I was in newspapers, magazines and blogs. For one of my more popular online magazines, I would get anywhere from 50-100 pitches from publicists on any given day. The majority were deleted, laughed at, junk-mailed and spam-blocked. There were a variety of reasons why your emails would be trashed and here are a few examples:

  • “Dear Editor,”— My biggest pet peeve as an editor was being addressed as one. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job—and I’m sure when people address the president with “Dear President,” it’s probably not so awful. However, in this situation you want my attention. You want me—the editor who has 80 writers to manage, 160 articles to edit and an editorial calendar to plan—to stop what I am doing and listen to why you think you should be featured in my publication. I think the least you can do is take five minutes to search the website and learn my name. If I’m going to put my time into promoting something you’ve created—FOR FREE, shouldn’t you be as committed and invested in this as I am? And shouldn’t that at least begin with a proper introduction?
  • The Ten Page Email— The magic words are “Let me know if you’d like some more information.” Again, my time = valuable. I need to know what you’re pitching, why you’re pitching it, and to what it relates to in reference to my publication. This should all be addressed in the first few sentences. As a publicist you should be able to get your message across that briefly. Do not give me ten pages of your finest marketing copy unrequested. If I want to know more, I’ll ask and I might actually even read it.
  • Mass Email Blunders—I believe this is the most gruesome truth about PR today. Mass emails are a bad business. They don’t get results, they don’t get my attention, and they don’t put your client’s best foot forward. Do personal emails take more time? Yes. Do they mean you need to look for exact names and emails? Yes. Does it mean you need to personalize the content of each email? Absolutely! Because if you don’t do that, then this happens:
  • RE:FWRD:– When you put a fake “Re:” or “Fwrd:” in the subject of your email, you are obviously implying that we’ve had this conversation before. So am I more likely to open this email? Yes. Does it make me super pissed off to realize you’ve tricked me? Why, yes it does! DELETE!
  • Unrelated Pitches – Sending a press release on the benefits of Viagra to a teen magazine? Looks like somebody is charging by the hour…
  • Follow Up – If you pitch me a story and I really like it, I’ll respond right away and so should you! If you don’t, my inbox will flood and I will totally blank on what we were talking about. Similarly, if you pitch a client—such as the many that were pitched to me during this holiday’s gift guide do not follow up in February asking if your client was selected. For one: it tells me that you could give a crap if your client was selected, they’re not a priority. Two: It tells me that you don’t read my publication and didn’t check my website for this at all. I’d rather get a “thank you” or a “screw you” instead of a “did you?” When the answer is two clicks away.
  • You Had a Good Pitch That Resulted in a Story, and Then You Never Pitched to Me Again – Why? If you’ve connected with me an appropriate fashion, I enjoyed your pitch and featured your client—why did you never pitch me another client? This industry is all about building connections. I rely on your content just as much as you rely on my ability to publish it. Stay in touch and make the most out of a good situation!

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