500+ Journalists Agree: These Are the Worst PR Tactics in 2020

Spend any amount of time searching the hashtag #PRFail on Twitter and you won’t struggle to find journalists lamenting about all of the bad PR pitches they received this week.

The relationship between journalists and PR professionals is complicated. While PR professionals need the media in order for their job to function, it’s also true that to some degree, journalists rely on PR professionals to deliver newsworthy story ideas directly to their inboxes.

Even though there are some #PRFail horror stories with shockingly bad[1] tactics, these instances are still the minority.

PR pros usually teeter on a fine line between professionally offering content of value to a journalist — and rubbing them the wrong way.

Since PR professionals rely so heavily on their relationships with media contacts, it’s important to be professional in communication efforts[2] and not bite the hand that feeds you, so to speak.

My team at Fractl has been earning top-tier coverage in the media for our clients for over six years, and we have always been interested in learning how to establish real, trusting relationships with media contacts to better serve our clients.

In an attempt to uncover what methods of communication really irks journalists, we surveyed 500+ journalists, editors, and freelance contributors[3] to learn the most offensive email pitch pet peeves in 2019.

Let’s dive into those, now.

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Journalists’ Top Ten Email Pitch Pet Peeves

1. Receiving an irrelevant pitch.

The most offensive PR practice as reported by over 500 journalists — by far — is receiving a pitch that is irrelevant to the writers’ beat.

A message to all PR practitioners: stop doing this.

Receiving an irrelevant pitch is easily the number one complaint from journalists. If a writer covers sustainable beauty, don’t pitch them about your sustainable fashion clients. There’s a better writer you could target.

Alternatively, if a writer covers personal finance, don’t pitch them your bitcoin related content unless their author archives suggest it’s highly relevant to something they’ve expressed interest in before.

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