Perfect Pitches: Swapping public relations for personalised relations

By Robynn Burls

The number one tip in PR Pitching 101 is to make your pitch relevant. It’s obvious isn’t it? But before you start turning the page, just read on a little more.

This tip has to be the most important tip of the lot. The starting point, the Alpha, the tip that makes or breaks a publicity campaign. But, if it’s so important and all PR’s profess to know it, why are so few using it? Irrelevant pitches are the number one complaint from almost all the journalists we’ve surveyed at Encyclomedia. It is the one thing that infuriates them the most and it’s the quickest way to destroy your credibility.

Here’s a checklist of a few important questions to ask before planning any media releases:


1 What is your message?

2 What target audience do you want to reach?

3 What media in your database speak to the same target audience?

4 Would they be interested in your message?

5 No really, are you sure they’d be interested to hear about your client/brand?

6 Are you absolutely, positively sure?

7 Have you read the publication you’re planning to pitch to? No? Well then, I suggest you close this magazine and go off to the shop and buy a copy.


Yes, I know what you’re thinking, there’s just not enough time to read all the media you want to pitch to. I hear you. I’m probably the worst person to give advice on time management. But fortunately you’re not reading this to hear my view on managing time; you’re reading this to learn what differentiates a bad pitch from an excellent, effective pitch. And here it is:

Not knowing the contents of your targeted media makes for a bad pitch. Further more, not knowing the contents of the media and getting caught out by the journalist makes for a not-so-polite invitation to take your release and jump off the nearest mountain.

But, on the other hand, sending a personalised release that matches the journalist’s beat and target audience results in an excellent pitch and a happy editor, who’ll be more willing to read your releases in future.

There’s no quick fix in PR, and if your boss or client doesn’t believe that, then, heck, give him/her this article so that I can tell them. Let me just clarify that, it’s not me personally telling you to personalise your pitches, it’s the journalists. Here’s what two of them have said during Encyclomedia’s research:

“I get PR calls and e-mails from people who have absolutely no idea what the magazine is. At all. So, when they start their e-mail with ‘I think this would really be of interest to your readers’ I’m instantly over it. Publicists should at the very least have enough knowledge of the media they’re approaching to start a conversation. If they don’t they’re being lazy and there’s no excuse.” – Dorin Bambus


“Do your homework, is this something that the mag would use – if not, you don’t have a hope.” – Paula Levin

Perhaps now would be a good time to head off to the shop to buy those magazines you need?

(This article is an edited excerpt from The Media Pitching Tips series, a free email series to be found on


Robynn Burls is the founder of Encyclomedia and Media Alerts, the media matchmaking tools that connects companies looking for publicity with journalists looking for content.


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