The following are some of the most common mistakes made in PR, or by a brand trying to do PR themselves. Pencils out, everyone!
1. Rambling on with self-promotional jargon:
You need to pitch a story to the media that has value, not just a promotion for your product. Sending a pitch that is overly promotional will not yield interviews or interest. Take a step back and think about how your pitch fits into the larger industry as a whole, the cause/effect it has on other topics, etc. Think: why should the journalist care about this pitch?
2. Pitching the wrong people:
You need to choose the correct reporters and producers to send your pitch to. Your pitch needs to align not only to the media outlet you’re sending it to but also to the individual reporter’s exact coverage area. Take a look at topics they've recently covered and mentioned what you enjoyed reading. It creates a jumping off point, a way to start a conversation.
3.Taking a “spray and pray” approach:
Mass emailing media outlets like some kind of spam account run wild will sabotage your efforts from the very start of the campaign. Again for the people in the back --- do not send out mass emails to 40+ contacts at a time and certainly never send an email to yourself and BCC 40+ contacts. It's an immediate red flag for journalists.
4. Spelling the journalist's name wrong:
Journalists have mastered the art of the written word and dedicate so much time and energy into the editorial they create. Know your audience! This means your pitch should be error-free. Triple check for spelling errors, as even a small grammatical error can be perceived as a lack of attention to detail. Tailor the pitch to the reporter's specific beat and coverage and don't spell their name wrong! This is a huge pet peeve for so many journalists. RE: nicknames - Do your research and check their social channels to see what they prefer to be called. The same goes for personal pronouns. Gender-neutral names can get tricky, don't make assumptions.
5. Sending a slew of attachments in your pitch:
Just use the body of the email for your intro pitch. First of all, your email is likely to bounce due to the size of the files. Second of all, the outlet's servers sometimes cannot accommodate emails with large attachments. Lastly, it may very well wind up in the journalist's spam folder. Not a great place for a pitch email to live. Either save any attachments for when they request them, insert images in-line, utilize free services like google drive, dropbox or wetransfer for sharing lots of information (life hacks: when using google drive, make sure you change the settings to allow for anyone to download files if they have the link + keep in mind wetransfer links will expire in 5+ days)
6. Expecting a deluge of immediate coverage
Everyone thinks their product or service is revolutionary/special/noteworthy. Not to say that yours isn't, but there are many others vying for media coverage, too. When you aren’t seeing results within the first few weeks or even months, don’t simply stop and assume it doesn’t work. PR requires consistency and repetitive effort over a period of time in order to gain traction. Whether or not you get coverage is dependent on many factors - editorial calendars, prioritized articles already in the queue, writers having to get the green light from their editors, writers who have already covered a similar topic in the recent past,etc. Keep plugging away and it will eventually all click into place.