20 June 2018 How to piss off a journalist

Bad media relations 

Sending out a media release? Show them what’s what. Check out our 10 tips to ensure you end up with a livid journo cursing your name and your diabolical wit.

If you work in media relations, it’s likely you’ve received a snarky email reply from a journalist or had them hang up the phone on you just because you wasted literally hours of their time. Well it’s high time you showed them what’s what. Check out Icon’s top 10 tips to ensure you end up with a livid journo cursing your name and your diabolical wit. 

1. Forge or misspell their name
First impressions are key. And nothing gets the ball rolling more than seeing a pitch that begins with “Hi [insert name here]” or a misspelled name. 

2. Send an inappropriate email
There is no better way for journos to spend their day other than trawling through hundreds of pitches that are completely unrelated to their field of work. Trying to get your football story published? Send it to lifestyle magazines of course. 

3. Spam a media release to a large amount of journalists  
I’ve found that using BCC to send out a mass media pitch has been very successful. Ensure no thought at all has gone into who you’re pitching to and why your content is related to them. 

4. Speak in jargon 
Be pompous and hard to relate to – yes, it does make you sound smarter. 

5. Not knowing your product or service 
Don’t be a know-it-all. Ensure you don’t know too much about what you’re selling. 

6. Talk too much about yourself 
Don’t worry about shaping your pitch around the journo and how it will help them, just focus on whatever you’re selling. 

7.  Straight up lie 
Got a media outlet asking for an exclusive but you’ve already got someone else publishing the exact same story? Just tell them you don’t. They’ll find out in a couple of days and it won’t even matter by then.  

8. Omit important dates and times and addresses 
Always leave them wanting more. 

9. Send out a media release with a contact who is unavailable 
Congrats! Your media release was a success and a journo wants more info. So, naturally, ensure the contact on the release doesn’t pick up the phone or respond to emails in a timely manner. 

10. Repetitive follow-ups 
Not getting any bites? Don’t fret, resend the exact same media release three more times and call up reading directly from it. 

On a more serious not, many journos get swamped on a daily basis with media releases that aren’t related to them in any shape or form. This would make anyone angry, and it’s not only rude, but potentially damaging for your organisation. To avoid getting in the bad books, ensure your pitching strategy is tailored and well thought out using the following tips:

Take your time – crafting a killer media release takes time, so be patient, be strategic, and make it something you are proud to pitch. 
Know your stuff – know your product/service/story/release inside and out. Be prepared for questions. 
Ensure it’s newsworthy – this article lists 16 things that journalists need in a story. When writing your media release make sure you have at least one.
Build good relationships – journos can seem big and scary over the phone, but they are people too (yes, really).
Be transparent – going back to the previous point, it’s important to build relationships with journos so don’t burn bridges. Be kind and respectful of their time and don’t mess them around. No one wants to work with someone they don’t feel they can trust.
Always add value – switch on to how you are going to help that journalist and why this story will benefit them. Calling them up or resending a media release? Make sure you have more to offer than your original pitch email.