I recently wrote a piece for Muck Rack, “7 Questions NOT to Ask a Reporter,” which garnered some of the best feedback I’ve ever received. An editor at an industry publication actually took the time to write me about how much he enjoyed the piece—and how every new public relations grad should read it.
With many new PR pros graduating this spring and entering the ranks of those who pitch the media, I thought I’d share his words of wisdom. Whether you’re new to the PR field or have been at it a while, you can always learn from the mistakes of others.
Here’s what he had to say:
All I can say is “thank you”!
If you engraved that column in granite and made it a paperweight on every new PR graduate’s desk, you’d be doing them and journalists everywhere a huge favor.
One thing to add, if you write on this again: Proof what you send, and make sure it all makes sense and numbers add up. And make sure everything in the piece is right.
Example: A law firm PR recently pitched a byline by an “expert.” I sat on it a bit, inadvertently, but unavoidably. My fault there. The regulator the article was about came out with a key announcement and I sent a link and asked that the piece be updated.
In the course of reading the update, in the course of ordinarily editorial due diligence, within 10 minutes on the internet, I found three major factual errors. I wrote a polite, “Maybe I’m missing something here, you tell me,” note. My publication would have looked idiotic to our readers if I’d run the article trusting the expert’s “expertise.”
From the client’s perspective, it would not have been hard to get it right and get it published. Now I doubt I will even open the PR’s emails anymore.
Again, great article.
So, whether you’re new to public relations or a seasoned pro, don’t forget the basics—take it from me or from this editor, it pays to nail your pitch by having a checklist to review before you send it off. Remember, you never have a second chance to make a first impression with your pitch.