Common pitch mistakes that are entirely avoidable
Let’s be real for a moment – there are MANY ways you can screw up a pitch. In fact, there are probably more ways to mess a pitch up than ways to actually nail it.
Now please don’t read this as pessimistic (or do…you do you.) My intention, however, is to instead make you extremely mindful when executing future PR strategies.
This round-up is rather blunt – I went with the “tough love” approach to hopefully make all those reading this – so yes, you – realize that these are more than mistakes, they are cardinal PR sins! Okay a tad dramatic, but if it gets the job done….
So, if you’re still in pursuit of mastering that “perfect pitch” (which by the way I know does not exist), it’s worth reminding yourself to NOT do the following…
Here are the top 10 mistakes (in my opinion) that will kill a pitch.
1. Bulk Pitching – AKA Copy and Pasting
You know what type of people create one pitch, copy and paste, and blast that same pitch to their entire media list? People who don’t know how to do PR, that’s who. Gone are the days of bulk pitching. While more time consuming, crafting personalized pitches proves substantially more effective.
2. Addressing an Email to Nobody
Never, ever, send an email to nobody. What do I mean? Well this often looks like “Hello,”…(Psssssttt notice there is no name.)
People typically do this when they can’t find a personal email address and resort to pitching a general company address such as “info@” or “contact@”. Pitching nobody is entirely avoidable (learn 5 ways to find a journalist’s email address), and honestly, it just shows a lack of effort or research ability.
3. Addressing an Email to Everybody
Opposite to above, do not, under any circumstances, feel that you are being clever and saving time by BCC’ing your entire press list. This “time-saving” tactic is not only rude but pretty much the opposite of strategic. Why? Check out “How to write THE perfect pitch to get press” to read up on the matter.
4. Spelling the Writer’s Name Wrong
Check once. Check twice. Check three times. Speaking from personal experience, one of the quickest ways to get a writer to press delete, is by butchering the spelling of their name. My personal email has my name literally spelled out in it firstname.lastname@example.org – you would be amazed how many people still start emails with, “Hey Lexi,”…it makes my eye twitch every time.
5. Pitching the Wrong Beat
This one’s pretty simple. Don’t pitch a tech reporter about your beauty launch. Don’t pitch a style editor about your new cocktail menu. Similar to the concept of “stay in your lane”, in PR, stay in the writer’s beat. If you don’t, you’re wasting both his or her and your time.
6. Being Overly “Salesy”
A key indicator of being “too salesy” is making extreme or outlandish claims. A few keywords to look out for are “the best”, “the coolest”, “the most”, “disrupting”, and “innovative.” Unless there are literal facts to back your claim, avoid these overused terms if at all possible.
What’s a fact? Well, I had a client win “Most Innovative Technology” – thus, using the word “innovative” becomes more reasonable. All in all, if you have done your research and have a relevant and well thought-out pitch, then your story should sell itself.
7. Not Getting to the Point
Don’t send writers an essay (unless the source has asked for an extended amount of information)– ain’t nobody got time for that! If they want more information, they’ll reply and ask.
8. Forgetting a CTA
Do more than just tell the writer the story then peace out. Give them a next step. For example, one might ask if a writer is interested in learning more about said topic, or perhaps the CTA asks if they want a free product sample. Whatever it may be, lead the writer towards the next action or you’ll likely hear crickets.
9. Getting the Outlet Wrong
This happens more than you think when people get in “the zone” and start hammering through their media list. So, slow down, and like I mentioned above, triple check that you are calling out the correct outlet within the pitch.
10. Having Careless Grammar and Spelling Errors
They are writers after all! Unless your grammar is taking on an intentional tone (something that I often do when writing for THEPRBAR), then be mindful of your language and sentence structure.