9 Journalist Pet Peeves for Pitching

December 15, 2014

12:30 pm

In November, Fractl and BuzzStream released a study on how journalists like to be pitched, based on talking to 500 writers and editors. Now, they’ve collected 50 journalist pet peeves.

Reporters from sites like TechCrunch, Mashable, and Wired all weighed in, and the results are clear: we’re a cynical, frustrated, and unforgiving bunch. Here are 9 of the top reasons why you’re annoying journalists; the full 50 journalist pet peeves are below.

Generic, jargony, offensive press releases

“[Press releases] offer no context, no understanding of the receiver, and no story. They are literally the laziest thing a company can do.”

– TechCrunch

“I am deeply annoyed by press releases that assume I am a man because I work at a science and technology magazine. And a shocking number of press releases perpetuate other gender stereotypes. There is a press release in my spam box right now that says ‘Rein in Your Girly Thoughts.’”

– Popular Science

“The basic thoughtlessness of many press releases are sort of astonishing. The classic of the genre is putting ‘Timely Business Story' in the headline. But there are also releases that seem tailored to speak to everybody and appeal to nobody. ‘Pitch: Better Jobs in America' would be that sort of subject line.”

– The Atlantic

“Press releases are an efficient way to get news out to reporters, but often the language used is very dense and tedious to get through. I sometimes read an entire press release and can’t pull out the key takeaway.”

– Mashable

Delusions of grandeur 

“Don’t navel gaze. You may be excited about your new product range or securing a juicy new contract, but will anyone else be? If in doubt, wait until you’ve got a better story.”

– The Guardian

Being clueless 

“JUST LOOK AT WHAT I COVER! Don’t pitch what I don’t cover and we’ll be good. If you spend 10 minutes looking at my history, you’ll know whether to pitch or not. Spamming me doesn’t help our relationship.”

– Popular Mechanics

“The [press releases] targeted at people who cover different beats than I do. The ones sent two, three, or four times, as if I’ll be more likely to respond; sending irrelevant material multiple times doesn’t make it any more relevant. Ones that take four paragraphs to get to the point (fat chance I’ll read that far). Ones that ask me to ‘please consider covering’ this or that, simply because it happened.”

– Yahoo! Finance

Silly mistakes 

“When other journalists get [press releases] before me. When there’s no contact information for who to reach out to. When key information is left out or vague.”

– Yahoo! Tech

“First, a couple of don’ts: Please don’t attach the information as a Word doc or PDF (yes, people still do this), or merely hyperlink to a press release posted online. Don’t clear your throat in the subject line – get straight to the point – and don’t shout at me with all-caps.”

– Popular Science

via Publisher Pet Peeves

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact