6 Fatal Mistakes Business Leaders Make When Pitching To Media

Media attention can supercharge your brand. It’s your one-way ticket to organic cross-promotion, reaching potential clients and audience globally, and demonstrating your authority. But it can be a fatal round-trip without any PR payoff if you make these errors.

Let your next pitch have more chances to land where you want it to by avoiding these mistakes!

1. You make it all about your brand or don’t personalize

When you pitch to a journalist or an editor, think like them. Pitching your company or your client with some general info about the new launch or what you do isn’t good enough. Even your vision and mission aren’t enough. If you want them to consider you more than “just another x brand,” you need to sit in their inbox with more than “just another generic pitch.” Ask yourself “How am I being helpful?”, “How is this relevant to this publication/editor?”, “What are the different story angles my pitch is providing?”, and “How can I personalize it to suit the journalists’ needs”?


2. Your subject line is dull or it’s too long

Your subject line shouldn’t add more to the snooze fest experience the receiver is encountering throughout the day because of PR/brand pitches. Even if your email body is worthy enough of their time, without short and snappy subject lines, you’re asking for instant deletion. Your subject line should prompt the receiver to open it and not delete it right away.


3. You don’t craft timely pitches or research the journalist properly

Media companies work on different themes and they come up with different themes after factoring in various elements. Following them on social media to find out what they’re currently working on is a good starting point to craft a timely or relevant pitch. The example in the first one also fits here. Not only did he research the topics I was working on but also read my articles that reflected in his pitch. Your email also has a better chance of being read if your pitches are based on national or international monthly/weekly issues, themes, or subject matters.


4. When pitching to media, you refute a topic you pitch for or reject the questions with trivial answers

When a journalist works on an assigned topic or editors look for sources for a topic, take into account that they’re not looking for your acceptance or asking if their topics are valid. A confirmed topic goes through many stages of the editorial process including verification to get a stamp of approval. So, if someone asks for doctors who use AI to spot breast cancer, don’t send pitches discrediting the story. If you don’t believe in a topic or don’t understand it, move on or ask and never make it personal. The only two things you win here are a little bit built up of your damaged ego and crickets from the journalist.



5. You pitch something that’s completely off topic or sounds irrelevant

Most of the time, journalists/editors spell out what they’re looking for. When it’s “looking for brands/founders with x credentials for y purpose,” stick to x and y, and not a and b. A journalist looking for startup founders won’t engage with pitches about book authors. Your pitch should hit the bullseye and not pass by without even touching the target into the unknown. Pitches like the one below almost never get a response for clarification because it’s your job to craft it clear.


6. You write long novel-esque pitches, sales-y emails or send templates

The level of your pitching skills is directly proportional to the number of media features you land. No one likes to be sold; everyone likes to buy. This isn’t only restricted to traditional salespeople but is applicable to pretty much everyone in any given professional field. Don’t go overboard with the length of your pitches because it only overwhelms media people. When a journalist asks for “beauty brands and how they’re innovating the eco-friendly industry,” you tell them “how” and not “the credentials of your clients”.




7. You pitch when you can’t commit to deadlines or topics

You dig a hole for yourself if you pitch your brand or your client if you’re a PR person when you reach out expressing your interest as a source for a story you can’t commit to. Usually, a media company/journalist looks for sources who can talk/provide answers within a week. If you can’t commit to deadlines, it’s always a decent thing to inform. Nothing puts an editor/journalist off when sources/PR people vanish into thin air without updating. You have zero chances of working with the same media person after this.

Sign up for The Helm Newsletter!

Latest Posts