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Five Surefire Ways to Get on a Journalist’s Bad Side

Part of a PR pro’s daily duties include relationship building, especially with media. There are several foolproof ways to get on a reporter’s bad side. After doing some research and spending a bit of time stalking Smug Journo’s   account, I’ve compiled a list of some of the crème de la crème PR blunders and how to avoid being blacklisted, or seriously eye-rolled, by bloggers and mainstream media.

Address correctly
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It seems obvious, but it happens often. Reporters complain about receiving pitches from lazy PR peeps addressed to the wrong name or no name at all. The remedy? Take your time when emailing. Remember, small details matter. If a reporter’s name has a special character (like Chloé) make sure you include correct accent marks. I’ve received several “thank you” emails from bloggers and media who have acknowledged the attention to detail. It doesn’t go unnoticed and can set the beginning of a pitch off on a high note.

Do your homework 

Take your time to research coverage and beats of specific reporters on your pitch list. Don’t be that person who pitches a food editor about a new mobile app. Secondly, research the location of outlets you are pitching. Someone covering news in New Jersey wouldn’t care about an event in San Diego. It seems like a no brainer, but apparently it happens.

Leave out the unnecessary
Keep pitches professional. Leave ALL CAPS, emojis, unnecessary punctuation (!) and other distractions out of
emails. An email splashed with smiley faces, heart icons or anything other than words even makes me raise an eyebrow. Just don’t do it. Use your words with reporters and leave the emojis for texting pals.

Keep it concise
Our team at Nuffer, Smith, Tucker practices brevity in what we pitch. We understand a reporter’s time is precious and getting to the point makes a world of difference. Write a succinct pitch. Draft concise leads with enough information to get your point across while holding your reader’s interest. Hook media swiftly, then reel them in with the details and particulars later.

Don’t be creepy
Don’t be creepy

There is a limit to the amount of background checking (also known as social media stalking) us PR pros should stick to. It’s one thing to mention in a pitch you really enjoyed his/her recent piece on best spring break destinations, ergo you think they would find your travel package pitch interesting. It is a totally different ball game when you name drop their family members, casually slip in a reference to the movie they saw last weekend and ask if they enjoyed the steak dinner on Saturday night (which was posted to their personal Instagram account). Don’t do it. It’s creepy.

Do you have any top tips or PR bloopers you would like to share? Tell us what you’ve witnessed over the years on our Facebook page!

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