Don’t be a Spammer: 10 Things Journalists and Bloggers Hate

By Abbi Whitaker -President of Abbi Public Relations

A public relations professional can be one of the most valuable resources for a journalist — a partner who points out relevant news, gives access to valued sources and provides photos and reliable company background. But all too often repeated miscues by PR companies turn them into the equivalent of spammers. Here are 10 irritating habits common among PR media pitchers that can destroy any chance of a lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with a writer or editor. Avoid these mistakes, and improve your chances of success with journalists across the nation.

1. Mass E-Mails. This is a no-brainer. Marketing is all about personalization, communication, engagement and LISTENING. The same rules that apply to everyday communication apply to journalists.  They hate to be BCCed or, even worse, CCed. Remember you are pitching a news outlet and no news outlet wants to cover something that everyone else is publishing or broadcasting.

2.  Sending the same @ reply on Twitter to 30 different people. Everyone can see your @ replies. It’s even worse than sending a mass e-mail because the rest of world can see what an idiot you are.  Just don’t do it.

3.  Big Press Kits.  Have you ever been to a journalist’s office?  It’s not exactly a penthouse on Park Avenue. I know you think those creative press kits you convince your clients to produce are “cute,” but are they practical?  If you absolutely have to create a press kit it’s best to keep it to an 8×10 folder.

4. “Just Following Up.” Imagine it’s 3 p.m. and you have a 4 p.m. deadline for a 1,000-word story and your main source just fell through. And then you get a call from a PR company saying, “Hi. Just calling to follow up on the release I sent you and to double check that you received my release on the opening of Jimmy’s Jump Factory.” Enough said.

5.  Phone Messages.  Sad, but true.  Imagine how many messages a journalist at the New York Times receives each day. By the time they get to their fifth message they have already tuned out.

6.  Being Added to your Newsletter. I love newsletters — we have one at Abbi PR. But we don’t add people. We let them choose whether or not they’d like to receive our information. You should too.

7.  Itineraries. I am not saying an itinerary on a press familiarization trip is a bad thing, but being booked from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every hour on the hour is not what most top-tier journalists are looking for. I know you need to make sure they meet all the big wigs, but what they really want is time to explore and discover the hidden stories.

8.  Press Trips with 20 People. Press trips are a valuable tool when it comes to giving the media a first-hand look at a destination. But nobody likes to be herded like cattle. Press trips should be intimate, customized and personalized. Focus on quality not quantity

9.  Friending on Facebook. Ask yourself this question before you send a journalist a friend request: Are you their friend? Do you know their kid’s names and birthdays? Do you know their spouse? If the answer is “no” then you are not friends. Send a connection request on LinkedIn instead.

10. Profile Pitches. Everyone thinks their client is worthy of a profile in Inc.Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Maybe your client is. Or maybe it’s best to start with pitching the client as an expert source, grow the relationship, and then pitch a profile.  Just saying.


11. Off Topic Pitches: If you write for the Wichita Daily Times you don’t care about a restaurant opening in Tucson.  If you write about geothermal energy then you’re not really jazzed on pitches about re-focusing your energy through Yoga.  Right?

Abbi Whitaker is the president of Abbi Public Relations in Reno, Nev, which represents technology, government, food & beverage and business-to-business clients across the nation. Follow her on Twitter @abbijayne

This post originally appeared on PR Daily Blog.

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  1. Thanks for reposting! I hope it was helpful!

  2. These are all really good points, Abbi! As a PR student, I’m starting to learn more and more about the relationship between journalists and PR professionals. I think it all comes down to respect for each other and the jobs we do. You have to give respect to get respect, right? If we put in the time to actually research the journalist’s audience and take into account their deadlines, we might see a better result. It shows that we’re not just treating them like a number. Eventually, this could lead to a trusting professional relationship. One that you can hopefully count on in the time of crisis.

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