Nine Ways to Avoid a Pitch Slap

Pitching is a vital part of Public Relations and includes building relationships and appeal for the benefit of the client.  I came across a post called, 9 Ways to Avoid a Pitch Slap from Valley PR Blog by Dan Wool who handles corporate communications at Arizona Public Service (APS) and it describes two things that are most important in the creation of successful media pitches; consideration and customization.  By being considerate and customizing attention for particular journalists they will become more receptive to pitches, which ultimately builds trust.  Establishing trustworthiness among the PR community and media outlets is important to your client’s success.  Although some PR practitioners might not know a lot about journalists they are pitching to it’s beneficial to consider the publication or station they work for and gauge what works best for them.  Consider who the journalist is as well as what he or she likes and customize your pitch accordingly.

Wool suggests nine ways to make considerate and customized pitches:

1. It’s not about you or your client – it’s about the journalist.
2. Actually read the publication.
3. Never pitch the editor.
4. Read the journalist’s recent material.
5. One pitch per outlet.
6. Their time is short, so make your pitch short.
7. Make it exclusive.
8. Let the product/service speak for itself.
9. No form letters.

I strongly suggest visiting the blog post and reading the in-depth explanations for each idea.  Wool includes good examples on how each step can be customized in a way that garners positive reactions from journalists.  I think it is advantageous to understand how pitching can be made to work for you.  These nine suggestions can contribute to the success of PR practitioners as well as their clients.

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19 Responses to Nine Ways to Avoid a Pitch Slap

  1. danwool says:

    Thanks for the props!

  2. knish21087 says:

    Recently in some of my PR classes we have talked about how pitches and press releases have become somewhat useless in the industry unless you know someone in the publication. Most journalists I have talked to say that they almost never even read pitches that are emailed or sent to them. I really think that the PR industry is all about networking. You really have to form great relationships that are mutually beneficial to get what you want.

  3. asbrooks04 says:

    As someone who has actually worked in a newsroom, I agree totally with these nine pointers. PR people do have reputations in the media and, as I’ve seen first hand, once you have a reputation for being annoying, a poor writer, inconsiderate on time…it’s pretty hard to re-establish yourself as someone who’ll be paid attention to.

  4. kakeane says:

    I think there are many PR professionals out there who think they don’t have enough time to customize a pitch to individual journalists. However, if they took the time to customize, maybe they wouldn’t have to spend as much time finding other ways to get their pitch in the news. In the long run, it would take the same amount of time, and would probably be much more effective, as it would lead to trust between the journalist and the PR person, which would make it easier to get pitches covered in the future, too.

  5. wackyzachy47 says:

    Working this summer in a Congressman’s office in the press area, I know for a fact that connections definitely help. But also it all depends on your target market. Because our Congressman represents a very rural area, it was much easier to pitch in general, but it was easier to pitch to contacts who we have had personal contact. It is kind of funny though because some of these things seems so obvious, but I know it the hectic schedules that professionals lead it is sometimes easier to just send out form letters. I guess it is a balancing game, like everything else in life.

  6. davemerenda says:

    This is good stuff. However, as Kim mention in her comment, journalists are not that responsive to pitches and press releases these days. While this may be true, it isn’t the case for all journalists. I think the suggestions Wool puts forth are good.

  7. ccharvey says:

    I think this is a great reality check for people in PR. We all have learned these things in some ways before, but when they are put together it makes it easier to see the big picture and apply them as a whole. As the format of the media is changing, it really important to find the best way to get attention from all areas, including blogs. This list seems to encompass all aspects of media.

  8. brittz87 says:

    Wow, I love this post! I think that all PR agencies should have this posted on a wall or something for their clients to see! So many times clients have impossible expectations when it comes to wanting a media outlet to pick up whatever they’re promoting. For example a small town organization will want coverage on a huge news channel like CNN. Other times a company will be interested in the name the Travel Channel and want to pitch to them without even knowing exactly what they would be interested in. It is very important that PR professionals take the time to set realistic goals for a client when it comes to pitching.

  9. letsgoblogging says:

    I saw these tips as well. There are a lot of really helpful resources out there that can help PR pros master the skill of effective pitching. Some publications even put forth tips on how to specifically pitch their magazine/beat etc. I think these guidelines are useful and for the most part, are universal when it comes to the right way to pitch.

  10. dfishfel says:

    I think that today a lot of pitches and press releases get thrown aside without any consideration. However, if you know how to write a great pitch, that is short, because we all know journalists are always on deadline and have no free time, then that might be the change they need from us. These points are great, I think that if PR professionals start writing good short pitches, then they won’t get thrown aside as much as they do now.

  11. agilliam says:

    I think that a pitch is really an art form that people can perfect. All of the things mentioned on this list are very important, because too often people see a news release as something that can be generic with fill in the blank sentences for a specific event. We really are acting as salesmen in this area and journalists can sense bs. Some people are naturally good at this skill, while others need to continually perfect their tactics.

  12. kristarogers says:

    I think this is such a beneficial post. The quality of the pitch is so vital to the success of the story and the objective for the article. I love the fact that he says that the pitch is not about you or your client, but about the journalist. This is so true and very easy to forget. I think that it is easy to get tunnel vision when talking about your client and not take a step back and realize the needs/interests of the person who is actually going to (hopefully) write the article. I think these guidelines are really helpful and I will definitely consider them the next time I am writing a pitch.

  13. cclark2 says:

    I think that when pitching stories to journalist it is extremely important to give them every resource they could possibly think of to do their story. Set them up with the names and contact info for interviews, mutli-media, various angles, etc. The easier it is for them to create a story, the more likely they will do it. Plus, the more information you give them the more likely you will be able to frame the story how you want it.

  14. mekelly1 says:

    I definitely agree with the 9 pitch suggestions. After interning at a newspaper and reading dozens of pitch letters all of the 9 suggestions are what I looked for in a pitch. I especially like the part about making the pitch for the journalist instead of you or your client. I think that anyone pitching a journalist needs to follow these guidelines.

  15. mara2009 says:

    This is a useful article that the poster linked to. Knowing your audience and the media it uses is vital. I learned this from an internship. My supervisor, the director of PR, knew the journalists — print and broadcast — who covered topics that related to our organization. This helped her to land stories because she knew how to think like the reporter she pitched to. This is probably one of the most important things I took from that work experience.

  16. trentonhorne says:

    I agree with most of these suggestions except one: never pitch the editor. In my PR writing class last semester, we had several local editors and journalists from publications like and Phoenix Magazine come to our class to discuss pitches and what they like. Though the journalists often pitched their own stories to their editors, most of the editors also suggested or assigned stories to their staff. One of the editors specifically talked about the types of pitches she liked and disliked to receive. The pitches that caught her attention were normally then forwarded to a staff writer to be researched and written. Therefore, I can’t say agree that you should never pitch the editor. You just have to know the publication and know who they like to receive pitches. Also, some of them even said they had no problem when people emailed them asking who to pitch.

  17. lbridge says:

    Having taken actual journalism writing and reporting classes, I have learned that sometimes journalists aren’t as responsive to things that PR professionals traditionally maybe believed to be true. My professors told us how the way a pitch is presented can really set the tone for the way that journalist or news organization thinks of you and who you are representing. It’s important to get it right the first time and put your best foot forward because that may open up a doorway and relationship that could get your pitches into newsrooms and media outlets.

  18. bkranz says:

    It’s important to send out pitch or a release to an outlet that relates to your issue and will have reason to publish. Also, it’s important to do it once. You don’t want to be nagging or annoying a reporter or a publication.

  19. ksorensen19 says:

    I definitely agree that reading a journalist’s previous work is very important. We have talked about that before in a couple of my classes and my boss at a local PR agency a few semesters ago also stressed that point to me. It is vital to understand what topics interest a specific writer, their writing style, and if it’s possible to tie in a recent article with what you are pitching.

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