How to avoid writing a bad pitch letter?

One of the first things PR students learn at their internships or in the classrooms might be writing pitch letters. Media pitching is an unalienable part of PR daily practices and a must-have skill. Business journalists explained how to write the perfect pitch on PR Daily.

Recently I was talking to an experienced PR professional who has been in the industry for about 10 years. She and her husband have started their food blog and got pitch letters from local PR firms all the time. Viewing from a professional standpoint, she considered some of the pitch letters so poorly written that she could hardly resist the impulse to email back and pointed out their mistakes. Well, she didn’t do that.  Instead she told me some of the pitfalls in pitch writing that PR professionals, especially starters, should try to avoid.

Don’t start with “Hey, xxx”, use “Dear; Mr.; Mrs.” instead

Some people that you pitch to may not care about this but others do. It’s always good to be on the safe side. Similar to dressing up for an event, you always would rather overdress rather than under dress. The same rule applies to pitch writing, or any other professional correspondence. Whenever I email a client, a professor, alumni, etc, I would almost address them by their title or last name all the time. It might be because I’m from China where you  almost never call someone older than you or in a more senior position by their first name.

Do some homework before you start pitching!

“One time we got this pitch saying: ‘we will be hosting a rum tasting event at XXX. Will you be interested in covering this?’ However, we never write anything remotely similar to rum tasting. She (the PR person who sent the pitch) obvious didn’t read our blog.”

Building media lists in Cision or Vocus has made sending a massive amount of pitch letters out so easy that PR professionals don’t necessarily read each blog they pitch to. On the receiving end, however, bloggers will likely be annoyed if they get something in their mailbox that isn’t relevant at all. Therefore, it’s important to at least briefly read the blog and get a sense of whether or not the blogger will be interested in the event.

Check spelling!

Yes, you are reading it right. Check your spelling before sending them out. Mechanical mistakes are big no-no in PR industry. When you send a pitch with spelling or grammatical mistakes to a blogger, she or he not only consider you unprofessional and potential loss could be brought to the company’s reputation.

So, PR gurus, are there any other traps in pitch writing that PR professionals should watch out?

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