PR Pet Peeves

I’ve been a journalist for 20+ years, and a PR pro for more than 15 years. As a journalist, I know what I want from PR folks. As a PR guy, I know what journalists want.

That’s why I cringe when I receive press releases and pitches via email from reputable sources that make my Pet Peeve meter hit the danger zone. Does the sender know they’re a finger tap away from the delete key? An email from a PR person should make me take notice, not make me take leave.

I’ve talked to a lot of journalists and editors, and they all tell me the same thing: they read their emails with one finger hovering on the delete key. You have about 3 seconds – maybe less – to grab their attention. If you can’t do that in the subject line, your pitch or press relese will never be read.

So what triggers my delete finger?

1) A subject line that contains the words PRESS RELEASE. I know you’re sending me a press release. Give me the details in the subject line. I store my emails, and if I have to go back and wade through dozens of emails that scream PRESS RELEASE, I’ll never find your info.

2) Not putting your press release in the body of the email. Don’t make me download a press release–I don’t have time, especially if your attachment is a large file. And why is it a large file? Because your logo is one megabite and you didn’t bother to resize for your press release.

3) Not making your press release easy to read. I get countless press releases with an opening paragraph so dense and confusing that I need a road map to find my to the end. Make it easy on my eyes and give me short paragraphs with easy to digest chunks of information. You’re not writing a thesis, but I’m writing an article–or might want to if you give me what I need, how I need it.

And if you want to make me REALLY happy, send me a paragraph or two that highlights the key points of whatever it is you’re pitching, and then paste the press release below that.

Thanks for reading! More FAST PR and writing tips coming soon.

Christopher Trela / ArtsPR

Adjunct Professor of PR, Chapman University


About fastpr

FastPR is a book and seminar series created by Christopher Trela, owner of boutique Public Relations agency ArtsPR and Adjunct Professor of Public Relations at Chapman University.
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