Whether planning an outreach campaign or already in the midst of a PR distribution strategy, here are five more mistakes to avoid when reaching out to journalists:
1. Thinking You Have Creative Control
The moment your press release lands in the journo’s mailbox, it technically becomes their property. Not in the sense that they can alter the facts or general subject of the PR, but they’ve full creative control with regard to how the information is subsequently presented. This is where outreach campaigns often go wrong – those behind them attempting to take full creative control. Avoid the temptation to tell journalists how to do their job – trust them instead to do their thing.
2. Bugging Them with Reminders
Do journalists and publishers lose and/or forget about PRs on a regular basis? Of course they do. Does this mean bugging them with reminders is a good idea? No way. If it’s a time-critical story/announcement and the deadline is fast approaching, there’s justification for giving them a gentle ‘nudge’ at the right time. If there’s no real hurry and it’s only been a day or two, hold off a little longer. It could simply be that your PR is at the bottom of their list of priorities – reminding them it exists won’t suddenly inspire them to prioritise it.
3. Creating a False Sense of Urgency
Most experienced journalists know every trick in the book and aren’t in the habit of falling for them. In this instance, we’re talking the classic “I’ve also pitched this suggestion to X and Y outlets who are very interested, but I wanted to give you first refusal” or something along similar lines. You’re basically saying “take my fantastic story before somebody else beats you to the punch.” And it’s a tactic that doesn’t work – it simply screams of desperation and won’t work in your favour.
4. Failing to Refuse Rejection
Where a media outlet refuses to publish your story or content, it’s for a valid and obvious reason in their minds. In which case, attempting to persuade them otherwise is a waste of time. It’s also likely to cast aspersions on your credibility, while at the same time making it unlikely they’ll consider your future requests. Where faced with a rejection, it’s best to thank them for their time, walk away and approach them at a later date with something more relevant.
5. Going for the Hard Sell
Last but not least, any press release or piece of outreach content that smacks of pure promotion for your products, your services or your business isn’t going to work. Press releases are supposed to be informative in nature and in some way relevant/valuable to the recipient. They don’t exist simply as a means by which to sell your products and services without paying for conventional advertising space. If you want all future requests to find their way straight in to the trash, try pitching a post that’s all about the hard sell.