5 things that will annoy journalists (and ruin any chance of media attention)

With more media outlets than ever before and even more organisations vying to get their message seen, heard and read, it’s getting harder to win the attention of journalists and generate the media coverage you want. However you approach journalists with your pitch, there are a few things that will destroy your chances of getting even a sniff of coverage.

Here are 5 things you need to avoid when doing PR:

  1. Targeting every journalist you can find the details of:

We all get frustrated with those emails that attempt to sell us something that has little or no relevance to us, and the first thing we do is click the delete button. It is the same when it comes to sending press releases. Adopting the scattergun approach and sending your beautifully crafted press release to all and sundry in the hope that enough journalists will like and publish it, can do serious damage to the way your brand is perceived by the media. So, target those journalists who write about your subject matter and in doing so you will boost your chances of media success and forge relevant relationships with influential journalists.

  1. CAPSLOCK (no!!!!):

The first interaction a journalist has of your press release is the subject line of the email. Yes, you do need to grab their attention amongst the hundreds of other emails they receive that day. But typing your headline in upper case letters does not increase your chances – if anything, it reduces them. It screams of a weakness in the press release to follow and a desperation of the person sending it. And whatever you do, please, please, please avoid using exclamation marks!!!

  1. Failing to acknowledge deadlines:

So, you get wind of an opportunity in your target publication and the deadline for copy is Wednesday. But you’ve got a really busy few days ahead of you, so you reckon if you get the information to the journalist by early doors on Thursday then that’ll be fine. Wrong. Deadlines are deadlines.

  1. Thinking you’re the bee’s knees:

We secured an interview for a client with a national newspaper. The client got a little carried away with themselves and figured that because they were a ‘big player’ the media would ‘surely wait for a week or two’ until they were ready to take part in the interview. But the journalist had a tight deadline of a couple of days and the opportunity was lost. It makes no difference to a journalist who or what you are – they will dismiss you in an instant if you try to control the agenda. Moreover, you will have proven yourself to be an unreliable resource and they will never turn to you again.

  1. Over-reliance on hyperbole:

Is your news really ‘revolutionary’, ‘innovative’, game-changing’ or announcing the launch of the next big thing? While it may seem to be a great news piece to you, you need to reign in your own excitement and really think about whether anyone outside the four walls of your organisation will look at it in the same way. So, unless you want your press release to instantly find its way to the trash box, simply let the facts speak for themselves.


Journalist are the gatekeepers between you and your target market. It is their job to only allow information to pass through them which could be interesting and valuable to the people on the other side (readers, viewers, listeners). If your story isn’t really a story, buy an advert instead.