5 tips from a PR professional
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that in our 2019 State of the Media Report, Cision found that 75% of journalists surveyed feel like fewer than 25% of the pitches they receive are relevant. That’s likely the reality of your inbox every morning (and every afternoon and evening, and so on).
So what can you do about it? While you will probably never completely banish irrelevant pitches from your inbox and Twitter DMs, there are some steps you can take to minimize them.
1. Be clear about what you cover
Keep your social media profiles updated. At a minimum, be sure your Twitter and LinkedIn bios clearly state what publication(s) you work for and your beat(s). If you have a preferred contact channel (such as email vs. DM, work email vs. personal email), make that simple for people to find. Not every PR professional will look for this, but the good ones will.
It can also help the PR and comms pros you’re friendly with keep track of where you move professionally and if your beat changes. The good ones will follow you on Twitter and other social media to maintain a healthy, productive relationship with you.
2. Correct the (good) ones who try
If you’re clearly getting spammed, of course you don’t need to reply – just click that spam button. We know you’re incredibly busy. But if you get a personalized pitch that’s just not quite right for you and you can spare some time, spend it letting the PR pro know what you might cover instead. That will let them know what to approach you with in the future, and what to leave you out of.
Bonus: If your beat changes, consider connecting the people who reach out to you to someone else who covers that area or topic.
3. Provide feedback when you can
If a pitch really isn’t right for you, you could let the PR pro know. Tell them why it’s not a good fit, or why you don’t want to cover it. Even a simple “no thanks” can save your inbox the weight of a dozen follow-up emails. If you simply don’t reply, the pitcher will never know why you didn’t respond, and may keep trying to get your attention for a long time to come. Helping them out early will likely save you time down the line.
4. Be proactive
There are a number of journalist contact information databases and services that seek to connect the right journalist with communications professionals seeking an outlet (like Cision). It pays to keep your information updated in these larger services. Most of us have a quick way for you to update your contact information, as it’s in all of our best interest to serve up the most accurate data.
If you have story needs or are looking for a new source, consider using a tool like Cision’s Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to reach the widest possible audience. These tools allow you to be very specific about your needs and your beat, hopefully reducing the number of irrelevant pitches in your inbox.
5. When all else fails, call out the worst offenders
In the end, there’s only so much you can do. Just like you can’t stop spam phone calls, there are always going to be some bad actors in the public relations batch. So go ahead and publicize the truly horrendous pitches. We all enjoy a viral tweet thread of the absolute worst, most off-base pitches. You can keep them anonymous or publicly roast a repeat offender.
Journalists and PR pros can – and should – work together
The 2019 Cision State of the Media Report also found that 27% of journalists felt their relationships with PR professionals had gotten more valuable over the past year, which is an increase over previous years. Like any relationship, the one between a journalist and a PR pro takes work from both sides to make it work.
PR pros need to send more targeted pitches with timely, relevant information. Journalists can help by providing a little direction to the PR pros that have potential to learn from that direction.