PR Companies Send The Worst Pitches. Here's How To Do It Right

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I’ve been a contributor for Forbes for 2 years and I get at least a dozen emails every day from PR people trying to get me to write about their clients. So far I’ve only written about one.

Why? Because their pitches are horrible.

Here’s one I got yesterday. I didn’t publish the name of the company, but I should have put them on blast:

Hi Tom,

I'm Doris from Anonymous Company. I'm sincerely writing to request an interview by you with the CEO of Anonymous Company, a rapid prototyping tool.

We could provide great discounts for all of the Forbes users if the interview content can be post on and shared with the subscribers of 

As long as the user has registered and subscribed the newsletter, he can get a discount of 30% Off

Up to now there's no website users can get this discount.

And we will offer you a free perceptual license (worth $399) of Anonymous Company’s software so that you can try it anytime you want.  

We prefer a questionnaire interview and we will refine the answers.

If you like this idea, please let me know.

Hope you are in good health!



This is actually like 99% of the email pitches I get. It’s scary how bad they are.

So where is everyone going wrong, and how can you get a writer to pay attention to you?

• Focus: It seems like the pitches I get are just because I’m on some email marketing list. These firms pay for an email list of all the Forbes writers and then send everyone the same email. This might seem productive to the PR person but it's actually a huge waste of time! Instead, they should be looking for writers and publications that cover what they’re trying to promote. It’s way more productive to send 10 personal emails to the correct journalists, than 500 random ones. Remember, less is more.

• Form Relationships: The one pitch that I actually used took a different approach. First, the PR person reached out to me via LinkedIn and sent me a short note. “I like the last two articles you wrote about influencers for Forbes and would love to grab coffee someday. I’m based in LA and represent several big influencers. I always love connecting with people in this space. Let me know when you’ve got some time to chat.” Perfect! I actually met him and his boss for coffee and we just talked about influencer marketing for an hour. They were smart and interesting people. It gave credibility to the people that he represented. He pitched me some of his clients, and I ended up writing about one of them. Most of the major publications are based in NY or LA, so if you don’t live in those locations you might not be able to meet up but you should always try to if possible. Conventions and trade shows are a great place to meet people from around the country. If you’re just starting out, form relationships with local publications so you can meet the writers face to face.

• Think About The Reader: Why would the reader care about your client or product? Would most readers of Forbes care about a landscape planning software? (I was actually pitched this) Probably not. They should have been pitching landscape industry publications, software blogs, entrepreneur sites, etc.


• Think Of Different Ways To Connect: 95% of the pitches I get come via email but the most effective ones I have gotten come from other channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, my blog, etc. A short note on social media means a lot more than a spammy email because it shows that you actually searched the writer out.

This article originally appeared in Forbes on October 18, 2017. For article click here. 


MarketingTom Ward