Digital PR & Outreach

10 common outreach mistakes

by on 14th September 2016

Following hard on the heels of Builtvisible’s new guide on promoting content to publishers, here are ten more tips to help you steer clear of an outreach disaster. Here’s what you should avoid when pitching a blogger or a publisher:

1. Rude or Perfunctory Pitches


You’d think this would be common sense, but apparently not. When you’re pitching a publisher, be polite and friendly. Treat them with the same professional courtesy you’d want to receive. Riding in on a high horse with an inflated opinion of your own importance and acting like you’re doing them a favour is a good way to get shown the door.

2. Too Many Buzzwords


If a publisher never makes it past the subject line of your email, your PR outreach campaign has already failed. Best practise: get straight to the point in your subject line.

3. Not Enough Research


If you want to shoot your outreach campaign in the foot, consider coming unprepared. Caitlin Kelly says, “The only two emails I opened recently that were useful to me came from people who actually noticed (!!) what I cover.”

4. No Personalisation


Personalisation ties into research (you need to know something about your publisher to connect with them), but it also relates to your personality. Don’t be a robot. Prove that you’ve connected with their content and that your material would be a good fit.

5. Lack of Understanding About Their Market


Understanding what your publisher’s audience wants is critical to the success of your outreach campaign. If their audience resembles yours, your content has a better chance of hitting a home run. Communicate to your publisher what value your contribution might hold for them—just do it without arrogance.

6. Short Notice


Sending a pitch on Monday that you need to get out by Wednesday is poor form. Give bloggers and journalists the courtesy of some advance notice, and leave time for follow-up questions if they’re interested.

7. Unsolicited Follow-ups


This is the biggest pet peeve of Fast Company’s Alice Truong. She says, “I’m filing and in meetings basically all day, and if we haven’t scheduled to talk on the phone, getting a call unexpectedly can be very disruptive to my work flow … And then I proceed to block their numbers.” Basically, don’t pester or nudge publishers unless you haven’t heard back from them in a reasonable amount of time.

8. Hidden Agendas


Don’t surprise your contacts by signing them up for your mailing lists. And don’t beat around the bush—playing coy with what you really want wastes your time and your publisher’s time.

9. Going Back On Your Word


Don’t pitch a topic to a publisher, only to redact your content the moment they show interest. This is one of the worst sins you can commit in outreach and it’s a good way to burn bridges. If you do this, as Henry Elliss, Senior Online Strategist at Good Relations, points out, “You end up looking like an arse, your client comes out badly and I shall add you to my spam-senders list.”

10. Lazy Pitches


Put some effort into your pitch. Make sure it reads like a human being wrote it, ask for a few minutes of your publisher’s time, and prove that you’re invested in getting to know them and their audience. Yes, you’re pitching them for a reason, but no, that’s no excuse for lazy writing.


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