Targeting matters if you’re trying to get a journalist or blogger’s attention. Several times this week alone I’ve had pitches that start off “I’ve enjoyed your writing” and then continue with “your readers will be interested in my/my client’s viewpoint/product…”
In principle this should be excellent. The sender has thought through who my readers are, which publication I write for and why the readers will want to hear from them. I should be excited.
Except that one of the pitches was for a toy (I have almost never written about toys, certainly not for five years or so). Another was for a restaurant launch (I am a technology and business journalist, you can argue that a restaurant is a business but it’s tenuous).
One of the pitches that might actually have been in my area but was a bit vague prompted me to respond: where exactly were you pitching this? I do write for more than one outlet, after all.
Good targeting enables you to send a good reply
Dismally, I didn’t get a response to that question. Literally nothing. This was a shame because I was prepared to listen and, once I knew a bit more about the story, consider where it might work best.
Presumably, bothering to send a response would have been too much effort. A second possibility is that the PR person involved took my query as a rebuff; I’ve had that before. I once told someone with a reasonable pitch that we needed a customer to talk to in order to make the story work, and he said “Yeah, I suppose you’re right” and hung up – when I’d have used him in the Guardian quite happily if he’d gone and done the leg work.
A third possibility, and I fear the most likely, is that the pitch hadn’t been targeted at all. The fact that it might have worked for me was a coincidence, and I was one of many journalists getting the same “This might work for your readers…” pitch, when the sender had no idea who the readers were.
Always, always find out about the readership you’re approaching through a journalist or blogger. You’ll be able to have a much more intelligent conversation afterwards if you have an idea of what you want to get out of it.