your pr career…Becoming the PR Pro Journalists Want You to Be by Andi Wilmes

I recently watched a Ragan Communications video interview entitled “How to Pitch David Pogue of The New York Times.” Nothing in the interview was new to me. I have read and attended countless “How to pitch…” articles, blog posts and seminars and they basically all say the same thing. But after I watched this particular interview I found myself asking “Why in the world if we know all the DOs and DON’Ts of interacting with journalists do we find ourselves often doing the DON’Ts?”

I know that to pitch correctly it takes time (and time means money) which is why it is much easier to mass email canned pitches that reuse already approved marketing copy. But you don’t have to be a genius to know these pitches don’t work and are the reason thousands of articles and seminars are devoted to eradicating this common practice.

Here are some examples of the DON’Ts many of us are guilty of:

  • Making the awkward “Have you had a chance to read my news release…” follow-up call to journalists you don’t have a relationship with or have never worked with
  • Writing news releases and pitches filled with industry jargon and corporate gobbledygook
  • Developing distribution lists that are not well targeted
  • Crafting email pitches that have several paragraphs and long subject lines
  • Not bothering to research or read what the journalist covers prior to pitching
  • And the list goes on and on

It’s no wonder PR pros have a bad rap amongst journalist. Many of us are blatantly ignoring their complaints, advice and tips on how best to work with them and achieve a placement. What’s worse yet, seasoned pros are often guilty of teaching or allowing new pros to perpetuate this negative stereotype. It’s no secret that many of the above tasks are given to the new pro.

So as the next generation of PR pros let’s make a pledge! We all solemnly swear to end this nonsense and start becoming the PR pros journalists want and need us to be.

Andi Wilmes is the director of marketing and communications at Beringea, Michigan’s largest venture capital firm. She can be reached at