Everybody wants the front page of the Wall Street Journal, and we PR people know that better than anyone. But while it should always be our goal to give clients the exposure they’ve earned, the best way to ruin your chances with any publication, from the community paper to the BBC, is to pitch the wrong thing at the wrong time, to the wrong person.
Nicole Yelland, Director of Marketing and Communications for Livio, recently contributed a media relations ‘confessional’ to the Sandstorm Media blog, “5 Reasons I’ve been told “No” by the Press… and deserved it.” Most of us in the industry can relate to her hard lessons learned: don’t stalk reporters with excessive followup, know what they cover before reaching out, don’t send self-serving pitches. These are lessons PR novices learn early on, and unfortunately even senior folks can overlook them.
The refreshing part about Nicole’s post is her honesty and straightforwardness about learning the ropes. We see “10 Big PR No-Nos” all the time in the PR papers, but sometimes they come from a place of aloofness, as if the author was born a cool and savvy media pro. Nicole is also right to point out the importance of knowing, and not spamming, your media contacts. Journalists, bloggers and every other influencer out there have unique preferences, interests and ways of working. That’s why there are no real 10 commandments of media relations. It’s a careful art knowing when NOT to pitch.
Recently, a couple of us Marchers attended a panel hosted by the PubClub of New England, featuring a range of Boston area influencers. At the panel, moderated by Solomon McCown SVP Ed Cafasso, an audience of public relations folks got insider insights from the likes of Frank Quartiello, Business editor for the Boston Herald, who recommends the occasional story tip that’s unrelated to a client – it gives him more confidence in PR contacts; BostInno business editor Walter Frick, who looks to Twitter for breaking news and pitches; and Paul McMorrow, contributor to the Boston Globe and associate editor of CommonWealth magazine, who holds that there’s a clear difference between average pitching and being a reliable information source.
Our takeaway? No two journalists are the same, but some rules hold hard-and-fast. The biggest among them: save yourself, and your media contacts, a headache, and Google before you pitch.