By Ryan Gerding
One of the most annoying things journalists find in their email inbox is a pitch from a PR person that was clearly blasted to 500 other journalists and isn’t relevant to them or what they cover. Now imagine if it also came with a calendar invitation. It’s happening, and it’s a dumb idea.
The premise is simple: a PR person is pitching a journalist to ask them to cover a specific event. And in the pitch they include a calendar invitation as an attachment. You know the kind: the ones that immediately pop up and ask you to respond with a Yes, No, or Maybe. I can’t think of a more intrusive way to try to get a response from a journalist. Especially when the pitch goes to multiple people at the same outlet.
Here’s what one news manager at a local television station told me:
“Those on our news desk tell me they get more of these than they used to.
I realize every newsroom is not the same, but I can’t imagine any of them are without a central planner or calendar which everyone uses. Sending invitations to individuals who may be involved in the planning, but who won’t personally attend, isn’t productive for us. I’m sure the aggravation is not intentional, but if anyone is sharing this as a ‘new idea’ for getting someone’s attention, I would suggest it’s not the kind of attention you want for your clients.”
Our job as public relations professionals is to make it easy for the media to cover our clients, not to make it annoying. Imagine getting a calendar invitation for every unsolicited sales email you get in just one day. I’d throw my laptop out the window. Tactics like this will burn bridges and likely get you blocked.
I know why PR people are doing this. They’re trying to force a yes or no response, and at the very least they want to be able to report back to their clients that they actually got a response, even if it’s a “no”. We hate it when journalists just ignore our pitches. But this ain’t the answer. The answer is better, targeted, and informed pitches.
More from that local TV newsroom manager:
“The advice I’ve given for years is boring, but tried and true. Make a point to connect with someone in every newsroom you work with. Learn what newscasts or content outlets they have, and what their vision for each is. Know what the viewer value is, then execute on why the viewer/reader/user should care. Too often we see pitches from PR reps who clearly know what the benefit is for the client, but that’s only half of the transaction.”