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So You Want To Be In Inc.?

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Journalists often have a love/hate relationship with PR reps. We rely on public relations professionals a lot. Sometimes, they come up with great story ideas. Often, they help us find information for stories we're already working on. PR is particularly useful for a tech journalist; I rely on companies keeping me updated about the products in their pipelines. I say all this as a preface, because I want PR folks to know that I really do appreciate their efforts.

That said, here are eight ways to ensure that I will delete your email after approximately 1/4 of a second.

Use the word "mompreneur." We will never, ever, ever write a trend story about mompreneurs. Mompreneur is not a catchy word, it's not an illustrative word. In fact, it's not a word at all. Most people have kids at some point in their lives. If your client owns a business and is also a mom, that's nice, but it doesn't make her worthy of a story. This is true even if she makes some kid-related product, or she came up with the idea for her company while driving her kids to daycare. By the way, this also applies to dadpreneurs, kidpreneurs, and familypreneurs.

Write this: "He saw a niche, and filled it." That's pretty much the definition of entrepreneurship. It's not the basis for a story.

Don't tell me what your product is. Some people seem to expect that I will be so enthralled by their pitches that I will call and demand to know what amazing products they're talking about. Please, just tell me what your product is. Then, if I'm interested, I'll let you know. This is particularly relevant for phone calls. I will never, ever return a phone call if I have no idea what it's regarding. And "I represent this really cool company" is not enough to justify a return call.

Don't get to the point until the third paragraph. There are occasional exceptions to this, but for the most part, if I have to scroll down to get to the point, I will press the delete key instead. Every day, I receive emails that start with two paragraphs of throat clearing. Often, these paragraphs are filled with data. The writer is trying to lay out an argument for why I should cover this particular product or company. Please, just tell me up front what the product or company is. If it is even within the realm of something I might cover, I will keep reading.

Don't include a URL in your pitch. It's a lot easier for me to visit the company's website if there's a link right in the pitch. Call me lazy, but I don't want to type your URL into my browser when I could just delete your email and move on.

Refer to Inc. as FSB. This has really happened.

Attach eight PDFs. Attachments fill up my inbox really fast, and I have limited space. Plus attachments are a great way to get stuck in my spam filter.

Don't answer my questions. When I reply to a PR pitch with questions, many people ignore me and offer to schedule a call with the CEO. Scheduling a call takes up a huge chunk of my time. I'm not going to do it unless I know there might be a story in it for me. To know that, I need the answers to my questions. The thing is, if I responded to your email, that means you got my attention. That's good news. Don't lose my attention by totally ignoring my questions.

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Last updated: May 6, 2009




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