Back in 2021, Gen Z came up with their own lingo, including the term ‘icks’. So, what are they? Well, they are essentially that shivery, yucky feeling you get after seeing a new partner in a different, not-so-flattering light. Also known as, a turnoff.
Whether they’ve said something weird or did something totally out of the blue and only cringey to you, what’s done is done and now you have “the icks” for that person. Some have it when their partner rudely waves the waiter over at a restaurant, some even get the ick when their significant other quite innocently sneezes! But what are the things people in PR do that give journalists the ‘ick’ and how can you avoid doing them this year?
Let’s dive right in…
First and foremost, journalists are simply doing their job, much like PRs. That being said, it’s not quite possible to create a meaningful connection with every person and this applies to the PR-journalist relationships too.
The forever classic: “Hope you’re well”
Messing up or forgetting the personalisation part of an email is something that most PRs and journalists have done at least once. Even though you genuinely do wish that the email finds the journalist well, this can be interpreted as quite impersonal.
If you want to show that you’re interested in the journalist, ask them about their day or mention any detail you might know if you have an existing relationship with them. Also, rather than mass sending, go through and preview each email before you hit send to avoid unfortunate mistakes.
The Friday motivation
What most journalists will agree on is that most Friday pitches might go ignored until later the following week. Unless you have a time-sensitive reactive piece to pitch, or a journalist has specifically asked for information, you’re better off outreaching or following up on a Friday.
If you have to follow up on a Friday, then pick who you’re reaching out to carefully, and base this on open rates and relevancy. And make a note on which journalists work weekends or run the weekend desk and prioritise outreaching to them.
The fancy fonts
As tempting as they are, using fancy fonts will not get you a link. Be sensible with your editing in your outreach email and do not overcomplicate things. Instead, focus on your message.
Also, send the outreach email to yourself before it goes out to any journalists. This lets you check that the formatting is correct, and it reads well.
The lack of representative example
This one is a big ‘ick’, especially to US journalists. A representative amount of people on surveys means that the data is respectable, and the results are credible.
When outreaching a campaign with survey data, you should take note that there is a significant difference between a representative example in the UK and one in the US. More likely in the UK, a sample of 2,000 people is sufficient, whereas US-wide this might not be deemed as credible by journalists.
Make sure you’re tailoring your survey to the area you want to focus your outreach campaign on. And offer different regional angles per area to make your pitch more newsworthy.
Timing is key when communicating with a journalist. Especially if you’re outreaching a time-sensitive piece or a reactive one. Avoid adding unnecessary information or data to your email, and when applicable, it’s always best to cut two emails down to one.
Starting with the most newsworthy and interesting stats in your email will save you and the journalist some time. This way, you’ll make the journalist’s job as quick and easy as possible, so they know exactly what they’re getting and how relevant it will be to them. And eventually, this will help you get coverage for your piece!
Finally, don’t let these ‘icks’ discourage you. PRs and journalists are simply doing their job. So, just be a decent person when communicating with others.
Many journalists can admit that they do not solely cover stories from PRs that they have a relationship with. When a story is good, relevant and falls under the journalist’s subject matter, then it will be covered no matter who the sender is. But of course, if you are representing an industry expert as a PR, a journalist relationship from a respectable relevant publication can be proven extremely valuable.