Detritus In My Inbox

As a veteran PR professional and sometimes journalist, I am frequently on the receiving end of emailed story pitches from other PR types. More often than not, I empathize with the sender, offering tips on how to improve his or her pitch. (One tip: I write about media, tech and marketing/PR…only.)


On a single day last week, I received three distinct pitches from three different people at the same agency, which gave me considerable pause and good reason to sympathize with those on the other side of the PR-journalist equation.

Here’s what landed in my inbox:

Subject line: Tax Preparation Tips

Hi Peter,

With Tax Day only two months away, I thought you might be interested in a series of expert tips on the best sites to file returns – and how to keep refunds safe from identity thieves.

My reply:


What have I written previously that would lead you to believe I would write about tax preparation tips?


No response back.

Another pitch that same day from a colleague of Lauren’s:

Subject line: Story- Word of Mouth

Hi Peter,

Social media and review sites like yelp [sic] have drastically changed word of mouth marketing, and has [sic] made it more important than ever to the success of a business.

My reply (with a cc: to the agency’s president/CEO):


And what advice can Stacy offer that I don’t already know? Also, FWIW, I know (and like) Stacy, and even wrote about her in a blog post some years back.


No response back.

Finally, earlier that day, a pitch arrived from the same agency’s president and CEO:

Subject line: Story Expert/Resource


If you’re doing any stories related to mobile commerce trends, I thought you might have interest in a great expert.
About 2/3 of Americans own at least two digital devices… and brands are adapting to the rapid growth of mobile commerce….[xxx company], the leader in mobile optimization, has key insight and data…

My response:


If 2/3 of consumers have “two digital devices,” who’s to say they’re both mobile? And what does it mean to be “the leader in mobile optimization?”

I recognize I’m on Meltwater’s media list, and yes, on occasion, I’ll touch on mobile commerce (that’s what you’re talking about, isn’t it?) But my advice — as a long-time PR professional — would be to accentuate the most compelling data to which you refer in the pitch…maybe even in the subject line.

Good luck with this,

Peter Himler
Flatiron Communications LLC
Twitter: @peterhimler

No response back.


It seems to me that the head of this particular agency, a former journalist, could do a better job mentoring her account handlers. As far as her particular pitch, the (oh-so-important) subject line of “Story Expert/Resource” is a non-starter.