7 Ways to Get Your Small Business’s PR Pitch Rejected

Gene Marks

You want media attention for your small business or start-up, right?

You deserve it and maybe I can help.

I write for a bunch of different places and I’m always looking for new ideas. Unfortunately, I get lots of public relations pitches every day and it’s hard to keep up with them all. I do, however, appreciate them. Why wouldn’t I? You’re giving me ideas to write about and I’m always looking for ideas. Here’s the bad news: I reject about 98 percent of the pitches sent to me. I don’t want that to happen to you. So if you’d like to send me a pitch….

It’s Not the Right Length

Media/public relations pitches are like elevator pitches.  They should be short and sweet.  I should be able to read it in less than 10 seconds and get the idea of what you’re pitching.  Your pitch should be no more than a couple of sentences long, with a catchy subject line – so catchy that I might be able to use that as a headline.  Something like “3 out of 4 people don’t wash their hands after using the restroom.” Gross.  I want to learn more.  If I need more information, include a link to something more detailed.

It’s Condescending

Sometimes PR people send me emails that start out with the obvious, like “running a small business is tough” or “small businesses are the backbone of America.” Duh – tell me something I don’t know. Please don’t speak to me like I’m a second grader.  Assume that if I’m covering an area (i.e. small business) then I’m somewhat knowledgeable about the topic.  Just get to the point.

It’s Trying to Market to Me

Try to make your emails as personal as possible. Include my first name.  Avoid graphics.  Avoid using obvious bulk-emailing services.  And for goodness sake, don’t list my name and email address with the 300 other writers in the “to” field of an emailing blasting out the pitch (one young PR girl recently did this and was tortured, along with the rest of us, with hundreds of angry journalists “replying” their annoyance “to all”.)  Referring to something else I wrote is gold, by the way.

You’re Pushing Your Product too Hard

You may think your product is the greatest and that everyone should not only know about it but they should buy it too. Guess what: no one really cares. I’m not writing advertising copy for your product. I like stories. I like news. I like unique opinions – the more edgy the better. Give me something that’s topical, current, fresh and interesting. The trick is then connecting your product or service to all of that.

You’ve Already Sent Me a Pitch

Please go easy on the pitches.

Once a week is fine. Once a day is really pushing it. I don’t want to put you on my spam list because you may legitimately have a good idea for me one day in the future. But then again, getting emails from you every day is killing my inbox.

You Didn’t Research My Audience

Please understand my audience. It is not teenage girls. It is not sports fans. It is not jazz enthusiasts. So, unless your pitch has a direct small business or business connection, it’s probably not going to resonate with me and you’re wasting both our times.

You Called Me

Please don’t call me. Getting a cold pitch on the phone in the middle of a busy work day is like getting a telemarketing call at home during dinner. Don’t do it. I know email is frustrating so here’s a hint: try a shout out on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. For some reason a message there may have a better chance of catching a journalist’s eye.

I like your pitches.  Keep sending them.

Join writer and small business owner Gene Marks each Wednesday on the Small Biz Ahead podcast. You can also submit a question for Gene to answer on the podcast.

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