Friday, January 22, 2010

4 Ways to Kill a Pitch

I smile when I get bad pitches from publicists -- they're blog fodder. I heard from many publicists this week who sent material on everything from a cookie diet to a bilingual book series, but the one that really stood out had the following characteristics. Use it as your format for What. Not. To. Do.
  1. Use 8 point type. Seriously, even The Young People have trouble reading type this small.
  2. Write two inflammatory sentences that paraphrase somebody but don't tell me who you're paraphrasing.
  3. Don't give me an overview or facts. Instead, tell me to click on the link below to learn more about the topic.
  4. Use a tinyURL format for that link so I can't tell who your client is or whether it's a link I can trust. There's lots of buzz about the bad things that might happen to my computer if I visit a "bad" Web site. I'm not going to trust your tinyURL if all you've given me is a couple of vague sentences about an impending danger to our society.
This woman's client might have had something interesting to say...and this e-mail might have gone to many writers who were in a position to help the source get her message to the people she thinks need to hear it. I suspect that it didn't get the desired response, though. One of the mistakes on the list above is enough to kill what could be a good story idea. Work to make sure that your next pitch avoids these mistakes.

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