As we finish up the month of January and head into February, please, please, please use extreme caution as you try to align your organization’s message with . . . You guessed it: Valentine’s Day. I am on a lot of publicity distribution lists, so every once and awhile I am inundated with pitches connected (sometimes quite loosely) with an upcoming holiday. Listen folks, yes, love is in the air, especially on February 14th, but not every little thing can (or should) be lined up with love.
Sometimes I’m reading a pitch wondering where on earth is this going and why am I still reading it? Sometimes I stick with the text because I am genuinely curious in that embarrassing I-can’t-look-anywhere-else sort of way.
Here’s the thing: even though we pitch the same people over and over again we really just have one opportunity to reel in the media and that happens even when we don’t hear from them. What do mean? I mean this: even if your pitch isn’t exactly part of their radar screen, if you’ve sent something articulate, well thought out, and compelling for perhaps another story, then that’s okay. It’s when we don’t stop ourselves from sending material out that is gibberish or completely out of line.
Why does this happen? For one, I think people neglect to carefully read. Really. They’re in such a darn hurry to get to their next call and that’s how mistakes happen. It takes time to be careful. I sent an email out recently and a colleague whom I’d copied noted a spelling error. I was surprised, because those swiggly red lines didn’t appear on my email, but then the word I’d misspelled was tiny and simply hadn’t shown up in the automatic spell-check. But whose fault was that? MINE! Naturally, I’ve been reading over my emails more carefully, but I’d be less than honest if I said it didn’t take a little more time.
Another big reason the media begin to ignore our communication is because it’s clear we haven’t done our homework. I’m not suggesting that we can always know what a reporter is working on. I happen to think their beats occasionally change with little or no warning. But just like proofing your email it takes time. Sometimes when I’m about to pitch a reporter I stop and take a few minutes to read some of his or clips. Doing so not only gives me an idea of what that individual is covering but I also have the opportunity to actually reference something this person has referenced. I do that, however, only when it will make my pitch stronger.