Some things I’ve learnt about how to pitch if you’re a PR. And also how to pitch to me specifically

First: I am sorry to have to write this. It’s not going to be useful to most people — it isn’t funny or good. Unless you are pitching me or want some tips that I’ve learnt from being pitched, stop reading now.

I actually enjoy being pitched to. A lot of people get mad about it and they’re almost always being slightly arrogant and/or silly. But I just wanted to write this to make it slightly more enjoyable.

I receive an awful lot of pitches. I read some of all of them — I want to read all of each of them but it’s just not possible. As such, most people pitching me are going to be dissatisfied and I’m sorry about that.

Still, here are the ways to make it most efficient for both of us. These apply to me personally, but not generally.

The most important thing is: Please don’t ring me to ask to send me a press release – this happens to me a lot and is incredibly intrusive and entirely useless.

Please don’t ring me to ask if I have received a press release that you’ve sent (I have). In short: please don’t ring me unless there is a specific reason that is better than emailing me. I don’t have time to speak on the phone about most things unless we already know each other, really.

My preference for email isn’t born of being antisocial, not liking the phone or not wanting to speak to you. It’s just that it’s infinitely easier to fit into my schedule: I can store things away for a later date, I can leave non-urgent things so that I can reply to them on the tube home, and I can forward information on. There is no way that the phone is better.

If it’s something that’s going out to everyone, and that’s obvious, I just won’t have time to reply. If you’re explicitly asking for feedback then I’ll try — but I just don’t have time to reply to every email.

If what you’re sending is more than a press release please flag that up. I am very happy indeed to talk about things even with people I haven’t spoken to before — if there’s a sense that they’ve sent them. If the email itself is just the press release, then I’ll presume that it’s equivalent to a blog post on your site — ie not really worth replying to or talking about.

Don’t follow up with another email to see if I’ve read a blanket press release. I almost certainly have. I’m sorry.

Keep emails short. I don’t have time to read more than a couple of lines. It’s nice to have releases attached in an email — but the email itself should be no longer than two paragraphs.

Keep emails sparse. I think there’s an idea that you can keep sending stuff and that’s fine. But I get very quickly bored of things that are entirely irrelevant, and because my inbox gets so full I have to create rules to send that stuff to spam. So please just get in touch about things that are relevant.

It’s easy to find out what I’m interested in. My Independent articles are here and my Twitter is here; between them they’ll give a fairly comprehensive view of what I care about.

Don’t send a comment you want included in an article more than a day after that event has happened. Unless there’s a new reason to write about the thing, or my not having written about it is a glaring omission, I’m probably not going to write a new story about it.

Don’t email my personal address. My work one is easy to find and the best place to message me.

DEFINITELY don’t ring my personal phone number. Somehow some people are able to get hold of this and it’s weird. Unless I’ve given it you personally, please don’t ring it and also please don’t pass it on.

Don’t pitch me in direct messages or on Twitter. This is bad for the same reason that ringing me is bad.

There are some little bugbears I have that you don’t have to be aware of, obviously, but maybe they’re useful as advice. Don’t try to link your press release to something that it’s not linked to because it’s in the news; don’t begin your email with some generic praise of my work to win me around; etc.

All of this goes out of the window if we actually have a relationship. I don’t mind phone calls, or repeat emails, or whatever, if we actually know each other in real life.

Sorry that this is a little messy and probably looks grumpy. But I hope it helps us both. If you have any questions please ask them and I’ll add to this.