Following is a small selection of verbatim comments from editors and reporters polled in the recent national survey of 12,500 editors and reporters by Don Bates with the assistance of Cision and George Washington University.
• Be more creative—pitches need to be tailor-made for my organization. Why do I want to do the same story that’s being pitched to dozens of other news outlets the exact same way?
• Don’t try to write a story angle for me. Put the most newsworthy facts up front, get me a handful of experts/stakeholders to talk to and let me write it. Don’t spend a bunch of time putting it into your own context, or trying to write a lead.
• Explain value to our audience rather than value to the business represented.
• Have the facts up top and easy to find. Lose the promotional babble. I look at an e-mail 3-5 seconds. If I don’t get it, it gets recycled.
• PR professionals need to avoid clichés, tired business jargon and qualitative terms in general. Such qualitative, emotion-laden terms (i.e. wonderful, great, best, impressive, etc.) may work in advertisements, but they don’t work in a news story.
• PR people need to go back to the basics and quit feature writing.
• The biggest issue is professionalism. I receive countless pitches with typos or formatting issues that make the item and the person sending it appear to lack in quality.