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Why Most PR Pitches Are Like Requests for Anonymous Sex

on February 21, 2014

I’m attending a conference this week and my inbox is full of requests from people I don’t know asking me if I want to talk to someone at a company I’ve never heard of. A good 90 percent of the pitches are letting me know that their executives are available for an interview. Most of those emails start by letting me know that some new technology is “hot” or they try to catch my eye with an excessive and unnecessary use of repetition, all caps, underlining, bold type, and punctuation (e.g., “***MEDIA ALERT – MEDIA ALERT – MEDIA ALERT – MEDIA ALERT***“). I literally just got that one.

I spoke to a few of my PR friends and it’s universally believed that these emails at best deliver a two percent response rate. From there, it’s an even lower rate to actually getting a meeting.

Sending out a mass mail to a press list is incredibly easy and cheap. And if you do only get a half a percent to agree to an interview, it’s still a win given how little it costs. Problem is you’re turning everyone else off.

Engage in a little foreplay

A mass-mailed request to a journalist asking if we want to interview you is kind of like mass mailing a request to see if anyone wants to have sex with you. Sure, as personal ads in Craigslist has proven, it’s possible one or two people will take you up on your offer, but the majority of us will just ignore you. Wouldn’t it be better to get to know the journalist and then have sex with them? We like to have sex too!

Why not engage in a little foreplay? Meet us, ask us out on a date, show us a great time, ask us lots of questions, and then you can tell us all about you. Most of the pitch requests I get make it clear they don’t have time for foreplay.

“We can schedule you for 15 minutes with one of our executives.”

Is that all it’s going to take?

Most smart PR people avoid this path and do their homework and spend the time to know their influencers, bloggers, and journalists. But even if you are very good at knowing your audience, is that enough? Maybe you need a little more creative approach. Stay tuned.


Stock photo of couple kissing courtesy of Bigstock photo.
Creative Commons photo attribution to Gord McKenna.

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