Dear PR people,
Too often, we hear about journalists receiving off-topic, spammy pitches. Heck, there’s a whole blog dedicated to covering bad pitches. Enough of the madness. I want to help.
Today, we’re kicking off a series of interviews with bloggers and online reporters. Who better to ask for advice than the very people on the receiving end of pitches — both good and bad? During the next couple of weeks, I’ll be sharing interviews with a group blog editor, an enewsletter contributor, a parent blogger and others. I hope their advice helps all of us be more successful!
To get things started, Erica Swallow, an associate editor with Mashable, graciously agreed to offer her advice. If your product/service is at-all related to technology, you’re pining away for Mashable coverage, right? Follow Erica’s tips to increase your success rate.
Q&A With Mashable’s Erica Swallow
Since you write for Mashable, I’m sure you’re inundated with pitches from PR people. On average, how many pitches come your way each week?
I’d estimate that I receive around 5-10 pitches sent directly to my personal Mashable account per day. So, on the conservative side, at least 35 or 40 per week. This doesn’t include the mass of pitches sent to the Mashable news team via firstname.lastname@example.org. (Note to all PR people: We prefer that pitches are sent to email@example.com, where our news editors are monitoring the inbox 24/7. While you may feel better about contacting an individual at Mashable, you’re more likely to reach the right person quicker via the news inbox.)
Looking at all those pitches, what makes a really good pitch stand out? Is there one *fantastic* pitch that really stands out as a “best of?” What made it so effective?
A great pitch is succinct and targeted to Mashable’s audience. That’s all. It’s as simple as that. The most successful PR peeps know how to get to the point in 2-3 sentences and they don’t even feel the need to attach that 400-word press release. Furthermore, they have researched the site they are pitching and understand the audience that reads that site. For Mashable, a social and digital news site, I receive pitches about products that don’t even have websites or digital marketing campaigns… definitely not a fit. These pitches obviously don’t belong on our site – it’s a shame that I waste so much time responding to these poorly-targeted pitches, just to decline the opportunity.
For the “best campaign,” I’m actually writing about this on my blog soon, but it wasn’t even a direct pitch. It was just something humorous that got me laughing and helped form a friendship, I’d say actually. So, no comment on this one yet (it’s not super related anyway).
Are there commonalities found throughout the bad pitches? Such as …? (Dear PR people, please stop doing these things!)
Certainly, there are a few key things that I hate about most of the pitches I receive. They are all outlined on my most recent blog post, but include being irrelevant, poorly written, too lengthy, boring and annoying. PR people, please understand who you are pitching, sum up your thoughts in less than four sentences, use spell check, entertain me, and ditch the buzz words if you want your emails to stay out of the trash can.
Do you prefer pitches via Twitter or email? Or, is there some other way you’d rather people contact you?
I prefer short email pitches – seriously, three or four sentences will suffice. I can tell within the first few sentences if the product or service is going to appeal to Mashable’s audience. However, I will note that so few people pitch me via Twitter that it usually catches my attention and tells me that they’re really serious about getting in touch. So, the likelihood that I’ll respond is probably much higher, although I make an honest effort to respond to all pitches, even if they’re not a fit.
Are you currently looking for any specific types of stories or leads? If so, feel free to share and maybe some prTini readers can offer you some targeted pitches based on this advice!
Mashable is always looking for innovative startups and uses of social media to profile. So, as long as the ideas are actually innovative and truly focused on digital or social, we’re game!
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