The Struggle is Real: Top Three Ways How to Not be a Hated PR-Pro / by Joanne Jordan


1) Don’t be a Nagger

There is nothing worse than a constant nagger. Needy. Annoying. Desperate. If a journalist doesn’t get back, there are two possible reasons. Either your pitch a) got lost somewhere in their never-ending sea of emails because it wasn’t dynamic enough or a fit or b) it isn’t appropriate for their reader or viewership.

Don’t beat the dead horse. Go to the writer with legitimate questions as to why it’s not a good fit or no longer relevant so you can adjust your future approach.

Let’s not kid ourselves though. Like it or not, we have been guilty of it at one time or another due to said inexperience, poor planning and timing or just actual desperation to fill ‘one more seat’ or ‘secure the client’s dream placement’…

However, over our seasoned years, we’ve come to realize there is, a way to be tenacious without pissing off journalists. We like to call it the art of being “subtly loud”.

When dealing with anyone in life, research is crucial. Media aren’t the exception; they’re the rule. Do everyone a favor. Find the appropriate contact. Read an article or two (or merely follow twitter feeds for a few days). Understand the definition of local. Grasp the nature of deadlines and lead times and for the love of G-d, don’t EVER reach out to someone just to remind them about a release, ask if it ‘rings any bells’ or offer up embargoes to media you never met in your entire career (although it’s tempting).

Don’t insult the intelligence of intelligent people (remember they are the ones who got straight A’s in English). Otherwise, one risks this:

                 “If you send me an unsolicited email on a subject that I do
                 not cover, and I do not reply, it means I am not interested.
                 If you send me a second email on the topic, and I still don’t
                 reply, it means I’m really, really not interested. If you send me
                 a third, it means I wish you would go to the window, open it
                up, and plunge to your death.” – Shel Israel, Forbes Magazine

Disclaimer: Although we’ve never had the pleasure to work with Shel, we will ALWAYS make sure the initial unsolicited mail will be one well-worth his time and the start of a fortuitous, collaborative working relationship.

2) Don’t Newsjack the Dead

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about newsjacking and how it can be a great tool to gain more coverage. Yet, it comes with a caveat. There are some cases where not only is newsjacking far from appropriate, but it’s severely frowned upon and goes against what we would hope is the moral compass of all PR professionals.

The death of Robin Williams was a tragic loss, not only for his close friends and family, but for the world he kept laughing for the last 50 years.

Shortly after his death, a blog post was released from one of the largest, accomplished, and successful PR firms in the world connecting Robin Williams’ death to a carpe diem moment for mental health professionals.

True, in the wake of a tragedy, it’s appropriate to raise attention and awareness. However, instead of using a timely death as a sales pitch for mental health professionals, how about just embracing the moment and letting people grieve a trusted friend, dear family member, or comedic icon?

3) Flush your unoriginal pitch down the toilet

When fighting for the attention of a journalist who receives 500+ emails a day, you have to find a way to stand out in the crowd (And I’m not talking about an all CAPS subject line) 

If you want to be heard, listen to this reporter’s advice:

                                “I get it. Your client wants free publicity about their product.
                                 Fine, but that can’t be the pitch. Tell me why it’s innovative,
                                 why it’s going to change the industry, or why it’s benefiting
                                 society, or creating jobs where there were none. Give me
                                 something other than, ‘this is our product and we think people
                                  would love a feature on this.’”

This may seem like common sense, but we know from being friendly with some pretty influential media that 75% of pitches read just like that (some even worse).

Placements don’t just get handed out on a silver platter. Providing valid reasons why your product, service, etc. would be educational, or at the very least pertinent, positions you as an invaluable resource to media as opposed to inexperienced nag.  So kiss the homogeneous, wet blanket pitch goodbye and be the creative, fearless, passionate, successful force that should be appreciated by both media and client alike.