When automation goes wrong: Lessons from failed pitches
Technology can be helpful—except when it doesn’t work.
Most PR pros with the responsibility of pitching reporters gladly welcome
resources that can make their work more efficient and effective, including
media lists, pitch templates and automated email tools.
However, these handy resources should also come with a warning. Misuse can
erode a potential relationship with reporter, instead of getting your
organization’s news covered.
The three pitches below show what results when an automated template
doesn’t come off as seamlessly as you might have hoped. (Note: These were
sent to PR Daily’s editor, Ted Kitterman. Names have been redacted
and the bold typeface in the first pitch is for emphasis.)
How reporters use social media in their jobs]
Though the first pitch takes too long to get to the point and underlines
the importance of brevity, offering a timely seasonal pitch with takeaways
for readers isn’t a bad idea:
Springtime often calls for fresh perspectives and revamped surroundings, or
as the commonly used phrase goes – spring cleaning. Top digital
marketing firm [name redacted] encourages that companies also implement an
annual “spring cleaning” to their content and social media strategies –
incorporating industry trends and technologies to drive new successes.
It falls flat, however, after the PR pro forgot to customize the template:
I wanted to see if you’d be interested in a story for XX
focused on ways a brand can revamp its digital presence for the year ahead
– I’d be happy to connect you with [name of firm and individuals redacted]
to share their expert insights. Some of their doable tips for brands
seeking a springtime makeover include…
Here’s a press release that was sent without preamble,
which is not a recommended pitching technique. PR pros,
here’s a tip: Most reporters don’t want to read your press
release. Save it for the wire, and instead pitch them a
short paragraph or two with all the meat to hook them on
That being said, this press release was thin on
HEADLINE GOES HERE
HOUSTON – (XXX XX, 2018) – Text of the release goes here, in the main body.
Text of the release goes here, in the main body.Text of the release goes
here, in the main body.Text of the release goes here, in the main body.Text
of the release goes here, in the main body.Text of the release goes here,
in the main body.Text of the release goes here, in the main body.Text of
the release goes here, in the main body.Text of the release goes here, in
the main body.Text of the release goes here, in the main body.Text of the
release goes here, in the main body.Text of the release goes here, in the
Here’s a PR pro who killed the pitch right from the beginning:
Hi INSERT FIRST NAME HERE,
You can cut down on automated failures such as these by testing your emails
before they go out and asking your co-workers to proofread your copy.
Mistakes can still happen, but having a proofreading system in place helps
cut down on errors.
You can also eliminate these automation gaffes altogether if you don’t send
automated pitches in the first place.
Instead of blasting your press release or pitch to several huge media
lists, consider crafting a tailored pitch and then sending it to a select
(and small) group of reporters or editors based on a common theme (such as
the same beat or similar publications).
If you have a press release, longer story or study, offer to send it
separately or add a link below your short and snappy sentences that
highlight the enticing elements of your news and what you can offer. Do the
same with multiple images or quotations from experts: Share one compelling
image and link to additional resources they can use.
Don’t forget to offer your expert’s name, title and organization—along with
what insights he or she can give. Then, respond quickly if a reporter is
What stories of automated email failures do you have, PR Daily