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January 30, 2024

5 Major Media Pitching Mistakes You Can't Afford to Make - Tips from a Journalist Turned PR Pro

Media Relations
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I have been a journalist for 12 years, and although I’m no longer working in a newsroom and have dedicated the past eight years to public relations, my soul - and my head - will always be that of a journalist. 

Together with Yaneiza, who also happens to have a background in journalism but on the TV production side, we always talk about the importance of getting the pitch just right, a basic tool that appears to be simple and straightforward but isn’t.

I say that it seems simple because its mechanics are pretty basic: 

  • I have something to announce that may interest you.
  • Here’s all of the information.
  • Are you interested in sharing this with your audience? 
  • I’d be happy to arrange an interview with our spokesperson.

Pretty straightforward. It should always work, but it doesn't. 

The reality is that journalists are usually inundated with news that brands and PR pros think is extremely important or interesting. It's also true that a journalist's time is limited, resources are dwindling in the media, and sales departments, instead of editors, sometimes answer PR pitches.

alexsl via iStock

At Twin Minds Media, however, we believe in the power of a good pitch. Over the years, we’ve perfected our craft and the art of pitch writing - always asking ourselves - if I were in a newsroom right now would I be interested in covering this story?

The pitch has to be just right to generate interest, pique their curiosity and create a sense of urgency. With this in mind, here are 5 major mistakes you can’t afford to make when pitching the media.

You may also like: How to write an effective press release: 5 must-have elements to give this traditional PR tactic a modern makeover

1. Don't Spray and Pray 

Skip the mass emails. Tailor your pitches to match the journalists you're reaching out to. Only pitch something that you believe hits the bull’s eye regarding the kind of stories the journalist covers. The last thing you want is to earn a bad reputation and have your emails blocked or deleted by repeatedly sending irrelevant pitches. 

2. Avoid Buzzwords

Choose your words wisely. Craft a pitch that speaks to them. Make it interesting and snazzy, but avoid buzzwords that journalists are tired of hearing such as “cutting-edge”, “revolutionary,” “game-changer,” and/or “ground-breaking”. 

3. Short and Sweet Beats Long and Detailed

Time is precious. Quick and concise pitches are the name of the game. Be direct and to the point. Remember, a well-crafted pitch is a teaser, not a comprehensive report. Think of it as the trailer that entices viewers to watch the whole movie. Keep it crisp, intriguing, and curiosity-inducing to leave the journalist eager to learn more.

4. Don’t Pitch and Disappear

Offer as many resources as possible to make the job easier - interviews, pics, background info. Sending a pitch is merely the opening act; the real performance happens in the interactions that follow. Once your pitch is out there, your attention should intensify, not diminish. Journalists often operate under tight deadlines, and your timely responsiveness could be the deciding factor between inclusion and omission.

5. Understand When It’s Time to Move On

Don't be heavy handed, of course follow-ups work, but it has to be polite and learn to withdraw when silence is evident on the other side. Remember that our job depends on building good and lasting relationships with journalists, so what good is it to bombard them until they blacklist us for being annoying?

Our profession thrives on cultivating lasting connections with journalists. You're poised to elevate your pitching game by steering clear of these pitfalls and forging genuine partnerships that stand the test of time. 

-Claudia Solis

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