A Los Angeles media relations vice president sent me a pitch that includes 20 paragraphs, one of several pitches I continue to receive one year and 11 months after I left my TV reporting job.
The email begins with two paragraphs addressed to me followed by an 18-paragraph report.
As a reporter, if I were interested in additional information, I would have requested from the media relations VP a report after her initial two-paragraph email seduced me. There is a reason people should not, during a first date, talk about themselves too much or give up too much of themselves after dinner. First, you do not want the person on the other side of the table to feel overwhelmed by your words. Second, if you give it up on a first date, you increase the chances someone might not come back for more. In fact, in this situation, when time permitted, I may have taken some tidbits of this release and tried to develop my own story locally without ever contacting the person who sent the pitch. Media relations often is similar to showing a little leg. Give them just enough to tantalize them and to want to call you back.
But this first date went sour for many more reasons. The 18-paragraph report is under the words “for immediate release.” I reported on television for 17 years and do not recall any times the words “for immediate release” played any practical role in the newsroom. I have raised this point more than once before, sparking a contentious debate among public relations professionals. If someone sent me a news release, I assumed it was for immediate release and continue to not understand why including those words is necessary. I conclude that including the words “for immediate release” is an old-school practice that, in my experience, serves no practical purpose for my former colleagues or me. As always, I am open to other points of view. However none of the previous debates I have sparked has given me reasons to change my opinion.
The first two paragraphs do not explain why this story would specifically romance a Phoenix audience. The paragraphs also do not include the names of a local person or business to court for the story.
The pitch says the author of the included report is available to talk, but the release does not explain why I should interview him instead of someone local. In fact, I actually interviewed local experts on similar topics more than two years ago.
The 20 paragraphs include a slew of statistics and percentages and I find myself willing only to skim all the information. Considering the number of emails some reporters and producers receive each day, most of them probably would not get past the first or second paragraph after seeing the length of the pitch.
Journalists willing to wade through the thicket of information might actually find ideas for interesting stories. This is especially true for trade media. Unfortunately, if the media relations vice president is hoping to attract the attention of a larger audience outside the industry, her pitch will likely often miss its target because how she dressed it. It reads more like a research report than something meant to woo journalists in a timely fashion.
There will not be a second date.