July 9, 2020

PR Pitching to Journalists - Never Cold Call


At GingerComms, we’re often asked by clients (75 percent of whom are PR agency staff) what are our top tips for pitching to journalists.


Our team includes ex national news journalists and editors, so we’ve got a fairly good inside knowledge of what works, and what doesn’t work.


But via our market research arm, Perspectus Global – we took a deeper delve, asking current national and lifestyle journalists for a no holds barred lowdown on what they HATE most about PR pitches.


The results of our survey were resounding. The biggest turn off for the 200 national news and lifestyle journalists we polled was the old school telephone pitch. 


That’s right – the message from reporters and editors to PRs is loud and clear. Don’t Call Me.


In fact, a staggering 89 percent said the media landscape had shifted so much in recent years that PRs should now be selling in by email – and never by telephone.

PR Pitching - Journalists preferred method of being approached

And more than a third (35 percent) of time-poor journalists wish public relations people would realise how busy they are and adapt their pitching techniques accordingly.


Our study also found that almost a fifth (18 percent) of news journalists said that one of the biggest mistakes PR professionals can make is wanting to chat about something they are working on.

Biggest mistakes PRs make when pitching to journalists

So PRs – the days of the friendly chinwag are definitely over. Think well crafted, succinct email pitches with no attachments, rather than rambling telephone chats.


Interestingly, our study found that the average news journalist receives about 63 pitches from PRs every day, of which less than a quarter (23 percent) contain anything of interest. 


Which means 40 pitches they receive daily are just not newsworthy – or are written in such a way as to hide their newsworthiness (eg important info tucked away in notes to editors, or an intro full of marketing puff which no self respecting journalist will ever read entirely).

Newsworthy PR Pitches and press releases

Our research found that 28 percent of journalists prefer PRs to cut to the chase and even omit over friendly email openers.


And we know from our own daily experience selling in stories to news and lifestyle media that PR pitching should be a short and sweet process.


Our mantra here is: be concise, include all info the journalist will need, and don’t expect feedback. 


And never ever cold call!

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