This morning I was deep into my morning prep routine of checking emails and looking over our newsletter content plans for the day, when an email popped into my Inbox. It stood out so much (for the wrong reasons) that we decided to pull one of the articles going live today and push it back to Friday because I HAD to be sure none of you were making the same mistakes in any emails you are sending to the press or sales prospects. It also made me cringe because the company from which this email sprung is innovative, buzzed-about and led by an awesome entrepreneur. There were also parts of their pitch that were perfect (you know I love bullets, and they had 'em). That said, they aren't putting that image out there with as much impact when things like this happen!
Though small and easy-to-make errors, they can have large, long-term negative impact on your ability to share your brand's story if you don't stop making them. Those of you who let an assistant, intern or employee handle your PR or sales may want to print this out to them and have them read it over before they send out any more emails from your company's address!
#1 DO NOT SEND MASS EMAILS (& IF YOU MUST DON'T SEND THEM WITHOUT USING BCC)
Sending a mass pitch is a (bad) PR strategy that you do because you think you have no time to create individual pitches, or you just don't want to make the time to create them. That said, if you value your time or money you'll stop sending out mass pitches ASAP. They aren't received well as they instantly show your story isn't going to be unique to one outlet (why should they cover it if they see 20 or 200 other people have the same pitch(, you're sending it to several, and they show that you didn't customize a list very carefully. Believe me, I'm fully in support of creating one main pitch and then copy and pasting it into emails (that you customize for the outlet, from introduction to bullets shared) but sending it out in a mass email is just plain lazy, it backfires on you, and it prevents you from personalizing the email at all, and shows you are just blasting out emails. This isn't a newsletter, this is an email to a press outlet, treat it that way. The cherry on top of this error was that the sender did not BCC any of recipients of the email, so we all knew who was included, our email addresses were made public, and we instantly saw we weren't being treated as individuals in this story suggestion.
#2 DO NOT SEND GENERIC EMAILS
Emails should never begin with a "Hi Editor" or "To Whom it May Concern" or "Hi XXX" - or without any personal salutation at all! If you can't take the time to figure out who at an outlet you need to pitch, you have no businesses reaching out to them. It shows you did not do your research and do not know who covers your story angle or product type. Bad move. Do your work, it may take some more research at the start but it will make a much bigger impact in the end! Seeing my name makes me happy, seeing "Hi Editor" does not. Call people by their name!
#3 ESPECIALLY NOT TO PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT A GOOD FIT FOR YOUR STORY
The final straw in this bad email situation was the fact that Tin Shingle, and yours truly in particular, do not cover the angle or beat that this email was pitching. The ironic part is that should they have pitches us the same story but with a small business/entrepreneurial angle and made it a better fit for our readers, they could have had a slam dunk article. But they didn't. Instead they pitched a story angle that was completely out of our market and thus went into the virtual trash bin.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY
I get it, we're all busy, we have limited time and limited resources. Does that mean we should blow the little time and resources we have on mass emails or poorly planned PR? Heck no - it means the opposite! It means it's more essential than ever to carefully tell your brand story to the right people in the right way! When you don't do this, you're not only missing out on potential stories but you're aggravating your media contacts. When you do, well, great press placements happen!