Notes From a Hired Pen

PR tip: Don’t half ass the pitch

I get a lot of bad PR pitches. Many are off clearly off topic, which happens when some company adds me to their press release list and sends missives about things I’ll never write about. They’re lazy, and that’s annoying.

But what’s worse? When PR people go half way.

Take, for example, a pitch I got today. Here’s the opening line:

“I hope all is well! I am reaching out as I thought you might be interested in featuring the below product on your blog, considering you write about the Jersey Shore.”

Oh hey! A targeted pitch! This person probably found me by looking for writers who cover the Jersey Shore. I’m okay with that. A good pitch about an area I cover can be useful, especially when I write three blog posts a week about said area.

But then:

“We all know that Jersey Girl stereotype—big hair, big nails, big mouth.”


Here’s what you get when you search “Jen A. Miller” on Google.


First link: my website.

Second link: my original Jersey Shore blog.

Third link: My twitter account.

Then a bunch of pictures.

The fourth link is a piece I wrote last year about eczema for the New York Times.

And the fifth link is to my piece was my answer to an editor who asked me what I really thought of MTV’s “reality” “show” about the “Jersey Shore.”

If this PR person had spent any time reading anything on sites linked to in numbers one, two, three or five, she would have understood that I am in no way, shape or form the audience for this kind of pitch.

My twitter bio lists me as a “Jersey Shore defender” – you don’t even need to click on the link to see that since it’s RIGHT THERE. My Salon piece is a takedown of the reality show industry that profits on ridiculous, New York-driven stereotypes of New Jersey.  It wouldn’t take much time to poke around my website or my old blog to see how much I love New Jersey and the people who live here.

And even if that couldn’t be gleaned from a cursory survey of those sites, the Salon piece is the fifth one. Fifth.

Is it really that hard to scroll down?

The pitch gets worse from there. Apparently, as a Jersey Girl, one of my staples is a “signature can of hairspray.” What about my picture with Curious George indicates that I use let alone own such a thing? There’s also the choice of the words “bling” and “sass.” I’m not a 22 year old starting a purse line. I’m a reporter who, in one sector of her business, writes with great passion about a specific area of the country. If you send me a pitch that mocks said area, what do you think is going to happen?

I emailed her back to take me off her list. I considered replying with just a link to the Salon piece, but that’s probably mean. Then again, this isn’t exactly kind either, but if it makes one more PR person dig just a little bit deeper into the background information about the reporter he or she wants to pitch, it’ll be worth it.

I promise I won’t spend this blog telling you everything PR people do wrong. There are great professionals in the field. But this one was just too good/bad to pass up.

And I want to hear your stories, too. Writers, what’s the worst “PR person went half way” pitch you’ve ever received? And PR people, if you mess up and send the wrong person the wrong thing, how do you prefer us to respond? (And me telling you where to send the pitch won’t work since it’s just me – though I’m sure that’s appropriate at newspapers and magazines).


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2 Responses to “PR tip: Don’t half ass the pitch”

  1. Kevin Dugan says:

    Jen: It’s frustrating when you’ve gone to great lengths to make it easy for folks to engage with you.

    They start down the path, and then they clearly morph back in to a boilerplate pitch. I totally get it.

    I tell people that the big secret about bad pitches is that they aren’t bad, just not relevant. This one doesn’t even fall into that category. So in some way’s it’s a unique bad pitch if that makes you feel better.

    Rock on!

  2. Brian says:

    I’d prefer someone to respond appropriately. Unless the pitch is totally wrong, i don’t think anything warrants a link to act as an indirect slap in the face.

    Requesting to be removed from the list seems fair. It seems as though reporters and other members of the media don’t understand that PR people are human and can sometimes make mistakes…

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