Do your homework before pitching a reporter

A Newsweek reporter who writes about music decided to try an unusual experiment. Instead of ignoring the multitude of news releases and pitches that public relations “professionals” send him, he decided that one for week he would read and respond to every email he received from a PR person.

His resulting column (which you can read here) was both funny and sad.

It was funny because of his tireless efforts to keep up with the large volume of emails he received in that week from people all over the nation. It was sad because so many of the emails he received were so inappropriate for a reporter in his position and geography.

For instance, he was sent invitations to events taking place in other states. It was obvious from such invites that the person sending the invitation didn’t bother to research where the reporter was located.

He was also sent news releases on topics unrelated to the beat he covers. Such emails also are strong evidence that the PR person hitting the “send” button didn’t spend any time finding out what this reporter writes about.

So folks, save yourself the time and embarrassment. When you’re going to try and connect with a reporter through email, the phone or any other way, first determine the following:

1) Does the publication/web site/tv or radio station the reporter writes for have any connection whatsoever to the topic you want them to cover?
2) If so, who at that publication/web site/tv or radio station writes about the topic you want them to cover?
3) If you want a reporter from that publication/web site/tv or radio station to attend your news event in person, are they geographically close (i.e. in the same city) as your event?

Come on people! Don’t be lazy! Do your homework. Or you too could be the subject of a future reporter’s column about all the dumb emails he or she receives from those in the public relations industry.

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