Avoid the 'Bad Pitch Hall of Fame'

 Spamming reporters won't help you get your story told in the newspaper. Flickr Creative Commons photo by Jeff Eaton

Spamming reporters won't help you get your story told in the newspaper. Flickr Creative Commons photo by Jeff Eaton

An old friend and I have a tradition that dates back to the late 1990s when we were working together as news reporters in Boston.

Whenever we get a horrible e-mail pitch from a PR person, we forward it to each other and nominate it for our Bad Pitch Hall of Shame.

We’ve collected some doozies over the years — everything from tone-deaf pitches about hair implants to a recent favorite that featured the colorful backstory behind the creation of a $1,300 purse for men.

Quite often, the joke isn’t the product or story that’s being pitched (though some of the topics are hilarious)— but rather the fact that the pitch itself is so far off the beat or so tone deaf that it has no chance of actually leading to legitimate news coverage.

Sadly, there are countless PR people making a living by sending these hopeless releases to reporters who are either ignoring them or, worse, laughing about them.

But if you are trying to get meaningful news coverage for your business or nonprofit, the path to success is paved not by simply sending out press releases.

The reality is that even the best press release is not going to get full traction if you ignore one key ingredient – building relationships.

If I’ve learned anything over 25 years of working in and with the media, it’s that you can’t spam your way to great coverage.

Great coverage that begins with getting to know the reporters who cover the issues your target audiences care about.

Of course, this takes a bit of legwork.

But if you’re in charge of media relations at your organization, it’s worth the added effort. 

And if you’re hiring outside help, it’s important to make sure the agency you’re hiring is measured not by the number of releases it sends out but rather by its knowledge of and relationships with the reporters who cover your industry.

After all, you want your next big announcement to land headlines in the right outlet — and not in our Bad Pitch Hall of Shame.

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