Journalists Share 6 Ways You’ll Kill Their Interest

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It’s always nice to receive emails from journalists thanking us for the content we send them. EMSI has a different approach to publicity than most other PR firms – for one thing, we don’t believe in press releases as a primary tool for pitching the media. Hearing from journalists who appreciate our ready-to-publish articles is terrific validation!

Some of the emails we get from journalists also include their complaints about other content they receive from people pitching stories. These insights are helpful to anyone trying to get the media’s interest, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Below are quotes from some of those emails, along with comments posted online by journalists. I think you’ll find them useful in your efforts to publicize your business, product, book or service.

From Lynne, online news website publisher, July 2013

“I need photos on our website. If we don’t get photos, that will often kill the story for us. I don’t really have time to write and make the request. If there is too much lead time, we might pile it up, only to forget about it.”

From Kate, newspaper reporter, July 2013

“Sending me a press release that has absolutely no relevance to my newspaper is a waste of my time … If I’m at a localized newspaper, why would I publish anything to do with a person or company on the other side of the country? PRs also need to understand that journalists get hundreds of emails a day – we’re busy interviewing and putting stories together as well as a million other things … we don’t always have time to respond, particularly if we’re on location.”

From Carl, journalist-turned-marketing consultant, July 2013

“Best strategy is to pitch a compelling story that is relevant to their audience and that isn’t just about you. Ask yourself, ‘Where is the story and why would anyone care?’ “

From Shawn, journalist-turned-PR rep, August 2013

“My largest pet peeve in the media and now working with the media is a long, verbose pitch. Listen, if you think a contact wants to read a chapter of your autobiography, invite them to Starbucks. If you want to pitch, keep it brief because these days, it won’t get read.”

From Steven, newspaper editor, September 2013

“Thanks for sending us press-ready and web-ready materials! I can’t believe how many people in this business are unable or unwilling to do that. I delete multiple press releases every day from major media players, including the White House, for this very reason: It just takes too much work on our end to publish their information.”

From Melody, blogger, October 2013

“I get emails from hundreds of companies/people daily. Much of the time, I click delete. Sometimes, if the info looks promising and is something I want to share with readers, I’ll open it and find typos, incomplete links, no links, or that it’s been addressed to the wrong name. (I kinda hate the latter. Simply don’t personalize it if you’re going to get my name wrong.) But you [EMSI] always supply the BEST info in the most professional manner and it’s a pleasure to share it.”

To those comments I’ll add: Take time to look over the publication to which you plan to send your story idea or pitch, and tailor your content to that publication. As Kate notes, local publications need a local tie-in. Do you have a personal connection to the area? Will people in the area have a special need for your information? If you have a product, can you list stores in the area that carry it?

If you’re sending your email to a specific person, don’t just get the name right, as Melody suggests, also take time to be sure your pitch matches the types of content the person produces or publishes.

If you take care to provide what will be most helpful to journalists and their audiences, you’re more likely to get the publicity you seek – and maybe even a thank you to boot!

Keepin’ ’em happy,


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