7 Common Reasons Why Journalists Delete Your Email Pitches

delete emailLet's assume you've managed to avoid spam filters and your email pitch has landed in the inbox of a particular journalist. Now, let's assume that the journalist to whom you sent the pitch deleted your email within two seconds of glancing at your subject line, or within three seconds of glancing at your subject line and clicking on it to see the body of the email.

It could very well be that the journalist had a very specific need at that precise moment, and anything that didn't fit that need got trashed. You can't help that—nothing to be done in that situation. It could also be that the journalist had recently been laid off and that your email had been forwarded to a supervisor, who was trashing automatically almost everything sent to the departed journalist. Well, nothing to be done about that either.

Assuming neither to be the case, you have to ask yourself why your pitch got dumped. Here are 7 common reasons:

1. You pitched the wrong topic to the wrong journalist and/or the wrong media outlet. Did you check to see if the journalist's beat has changed or if the media outlet has changed focus?

2. You sent the pitch at the wrong time of day or night to that particular journalist. Try asking an editor or producer at the outlet what time of day is best to send pitches.

3. Your subject line is neither interesting (to anyone other than people in your company) nor adapted to the needs of the journalist.

4. Your pitch is a news release, not news.

5. The last time you sent a pitch to that particular journalist, it took you a full day to reply when he or she responded to your pitch.

6. You tend to follow up your email pitches with phone calls, which annoys most journalists—and they tend not to forget.

7. You spelled the journalist's name incorrectly.

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About Steve Goldstein

Steve Goldstein is editorial director for Access Intelligence’s PR News brand, which encompasses premium, how-to content, data and competitive intelligence for public relations professionals; PR News Online; PR News conferences, webinars and awards programs; and PR News guidebooks. Previously at AI Steve was editorial director of min, min ’s b2b and minonline as well as managing editor of CableFAX: The Magazine and CableWorld. Before joining Access Intelligence, he was executive editor of World Screen News, and editor of Film/Tape World, which covered film, television and commercial production in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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  • http://www.spinsucks.com/ Clay Morgan

    When I was running a daily newsroom, these were all annoyances, with number 3 and 7 coming in tops for me. Of course, the big one on number 7 wasn’t spelling the name wrong, but thinking I was my predecessor from a couple years back.

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  • http://storageioblog.com/ greg schulz

    Its about the who, what, where, when, why which is often forgotten.

    Im an industry analyst and not a journalist however I get many pitches every day that often are general pitches that go out to combined press, media, analyst, bloggers and others lists.

    Many of these pitches fail due to the reasons mentioned above and Im surprised at how many simply forget to include in the first sentence or two the basic who (the pitch is about) why (the pitch is being sent) what (the pitch and information is about along with relevance) when (the news or info is taking place, any embargos, timelines) where (to get more info or other things).

    Instead, many of the daily pitches (some get the names who they are pitching correct, some get it wrong, some even include the “Dear ,” ;). However then the pitch goes into paragraphs of flowing text missing out on the above, or worse, talking about something or somebody else where in a quick scan may leave the pitch mistaken for somebody elses.

    If you want your pitch paid attention to or even read, capture the attention in the first few seconds with a simple who, what, where, why, when in a couple of sentences. Also if you need to increase your word count, dont be afraid of repeating a closing sentence of who, what, why, when, where at the end.

    And if compelled to write a long story or article as part of you pitch open, do it after the basics are covered or save it for a blog post ;)…

  • http://www.portapocket.com PortaPocketGal

    sort of on this subject and an honest question… if one pitches a journalist (let’s say via HARO ) which is right on point and fits their needs, AND yet one gets no reply…and then, later, one seems that same journalist asking for resources on a different topic where one’s product also fits, does one pitch again… and again (for yet another request)…and again (ditto)? Does one assume said journalist remembers the prior information &/or product, or does one assume said journalist will ever be interested in what you have to say?

  • BruceTheBlog

    Along with the fading of print media is the fading of pithy, disciplined headline writing: The flabby head on this article is a case in point. It should read: “Seven Reasons Journalists Delete Email Pitches” Out of the nine words, 33% are superfluous: Common, Why, Your. Am I whistling in the wind? Sadly so.

  • Meagan

    I agree with most points in this article. However, I am not sure about No. 6, as it varies from person to person in my experience. If you call a journalist and he/she seems annoyed, maybe it’s best to only communicate via email with that person. On the other hand, some journalists really appreciate the phone calls and getting to know the voice behind a press release. I’ve had a seasoned editor suggest that I call him if I have a story lead. It all depends, but you’ll never find out if you don’t pick up the phone first.

  • http://isebox.com/category/blog/ joewitte

    Good article. I agree with Meagan down below. Probably depends on someone’s relationship with the journalist. I think that another factor that bothers journalists is trying to receive multimedia content can be a pain. Hopefully, Isebox will solve that.