AKA – Best Practices Pitching Media

In his typical snarky style, Scott Stratten called a PR “pro” on the carpet this week for a common problem in the public relations industry – bad pitches, compounded by sending them to the wrong media.

While everyone makes mistakes as part of the learning curve, I have to admit this was no rookie mistake. It crosses the bridge from whoops into just plain stupid.


Come on, people, do your homework!

If it helps, don’t think of it as a pitch; think of it as starting a conversation (un-pitching). With a short keyword search on “best practices pitching media” – over 54 MILLION results popped up. And some of the links are fantastic! You don’t even have to go deeper than page one to figure this out.

Even if you are an intern who has never pitched before – at an agency who doesn’t know the meaning of training – a five-second search followed by five minutes of reading brings you up to speed. It’s hardly rocket science.

  • Read the pub before you pitch
  • Make sure your news fits what they cover
  • Identify the right person to pitch – don’t shotgun blast everyone
  • Google them, check out their social media presence, read their stuff
  • Make the pitch relevant to them

Our job is NOT about what our client wants us to shove down their throat, it’s about crafting an awesome story that FITS WHAT THEY COVER.

Fit the story to the outlet – the better you can do this, the more success you will have.

Why would a marketing blogger even remotely care about women’s tennis? It’s not like Scott secretly plays tennis in drag, then posts about it under his secret nom de plume!


(Ummm. You don’t, Scott, right?)

Anyway… In this case, I think both sides are right, to a degree.

Where the problem lies

Many agencies and companies throw PR newbies in the water without proper training on how to pitch and create media relationships.

Unfortunately, media don’t have patience for the learning curve and don’t have time/interest in giving feedback when someone needs it. It’s not their job and they don’t have time but, sadly, sometimes they are the only ones that see the pitches because many management teams fall short in monitoring pitches and improving them. Then media lump all of us in with the bad when they are frustrated.

In that situation, I encourage agencies to take a look at their processes (and the pitches that go out the door) to see where they can help their teams make improvements. It benefits everyone and should be part of their normal training cycles, even part of their standard status meetings. Pitching shouldn’t happen behind closed doors and be treated like they are the secret sauce of the individual; they are a process that needs regular TLC, just like anything else.

From the employee side, ask for feedback! Don’t be afraid to share what you are doing with your colleagues and management to see how they can help. When you have a strong media relationship, ask for their input on your pitch skill. Helping you helps them. If you are an independent, pull in a few of your friends in the industry and solicit THEIR input.

Help each other be fabulous. Honing your skills to be a better publicist is what it’s all about.

And from the other side of the fence, some PR “professionals” – and I say that loosely – simply don’t take the time to learn their craft and do their job right. They deserve to be spotlighted in the PR Hall of Shame and burn in the fires of journalist wrath. They make us ALL look bad.

Take ten minutes right now to read a few of those articles that pop up on Google (the link is above), take an honest look at your last ten pitches, then see where you can tighten things up.

If you are not landing a good percentage of them, there is a problem there that needs attention.