Blogs  / August 19, 2015

Fighting Back Against Passive PR Pitches

by Rebekah Iliff

One of the downsides to being a content creating machine is that, inevitably, you will be added to every media database on the planet. Subsequently, you will be pitched everything from Smucker’s new line of technologically-enhanced jams to book releases from a no-name author living in a town you’ve never heard of either.

It’s rough stuff – this new content world we live in where journalists are confused for brand bloggers and contributing writers are mistaken for news anchors.

I get it: one has to actually use critical thinking and deductive reasoning skills to figure out what’s what.

After having an in-depth discussion with one of my fave PR industry folks, Johna Burke (EVP, Burrelles Luce) about this issue at last week’s PR Summit, we concluded that most of the off-beat pitches we get in our inboxes are a direct result of one thing: laziness.

The day after our lil’ chat, I received yet ANOTHER pitch from a PR pro who had clearly never read one thing I’d ever written, and sent me a 15 paragraph email basically filled with jargon type junk. So I thought: “Ok, I’m going to put on my big girl panties and use this as an opportunity to reach out and give her a chance to redeem herself.”

Let’s call her “Sugar”. Here is what I wrote back – and has subsequently become my standard response to pitches that don’t nail it. I hope you enjoy:


Hi Sugar –

What’s the story here? What are you suggesting? I need more meat. I promise that if you can get a journalist/writer 75% of data and information needed to write a compelling story, the probability of getting your story published will increase exponentially, like a million percent.

Because I’m truly dedicated to PR industry education and innovation, one of my current life goals is now to help folks like you be successful…because I think the more compelling stories we tell, the better off we’ll be.

Here’s the pitch I would actually read and digest:

Hi Rebekah,

I see you write a lot about how important it is for PR and marketing to really engage and reach customers in meaningful ways. I’ve read <XX story> and <XX story> of yours. And wow, you really struck a chord.

I think one of my clients <INSERT NAME> may be able to forward your narrative with the following specific advice, which means your audience will read what you have written and your content will get spread even further. It’s a win/win.

Here are 5 things/principles she lives by and the data to support it:

#1 – X (insert the tip, data to support and possibly a quote)

#2 – X (ibid)

#3 – X (ibid)

#4 – X (ibid)

#5 – X (ibid) 

What else can I do to make your very busy and stressful life easier? Coffee? Alcohol? Flowers? More story details? Help me help me you.



See how easy that was, Sugar? In case you don’t have them, here are the links to my author pages at Inc.EntrepreneurMashable.

If you read through, you’ll get how I write and how to construct stories that may interest me. I’d say this likely applies to anyone who is a contributing writer at a brand. We can turn solid facts/advice into interviews like this…and voila, you’ve done our job for us. Get me there…

Double win if you can connect me with CMOs and CEOs from brands and companies companies that have thoughts and insights on PR Measurement.



The best part about all this? I’m not the only one seeking to ban the banality from my inbox. Take a look at the amazingness that ensued following one writer’s decision to respond to every PR pitch with “I love you.” (Special thanks to Greg Galant for sending us this story!)

And this is just the beginning, peeps. Please join me on my crusade to educate and cajole lazy PR pros into stepping up their game by taking my routine reply and making it your own. The inbox madness must stop.

Got another great response for lackluster pitches? Please be sure to share in the comments below!