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Brian Hayes

Published on

December 9, 2019


We can learn a lot by following journalists on Twitter.

Their tweets definitely aren’t all relevant for PR – unless you can find a way to appropriately reference/incorporate their random observations, controversial political commentary and such – but we can stay updated on reporter moves and other media changes, and we can get a glimpse into how journalists feel about industry articles and trends. Here are some lessons and reminders from reporter Twitter feedback… Tweedback.

Our pitches should be concise.

Multiple studies have shown that emails are most likely to receive a response if they’re between 50 and 125 words. Of course, pitches often need to be longer, depending on who we’re reaching out to or if we’re explaining a new concept, but if we’re simply sharing an asset (commentary, news, research etc.) we should try to keep them short.

Arjun Kharpal, a China-based tech reporter for CNBC, values brevity so much he started accepting pitches on Snapchat.Snapchat

He confirmed it wasn’t a cry for selfies, but a cry for us to stop sending long pitches.




Even if a pitch seems concise, we can often condense it further by revisiting it later and identifying other parts we can summarise or remove. It can help to minimise buzzwords or corporate jargon, or use bullet points.

The subject line should be concise too – it has to be – but the goal of the subject line isn’t to provide as short a summary as possible, it’s to get the journalist to open the pitch (without being misleading). I’ve found that acknowledging reporters’ previous articles or our previous work together can be more effective than using the whole subject line as a summary. To provide a few examples:

  • Reconnect w/AlienVault’s Mike LaPeters? (MSSP trends)
  • Another LogMeIn survey?
  • Your post on employee engagement; how to improve w/collab?
  • Follow-up on slideshow ideas

Sending concise pitches fits into a larger trend of feedback I’m gathering…

We should be respectful of journalists’ time.

Of course, this encompasses a ton. For starters, unless we have a great relationship, we shouldn’t ask reporters to provide insight into their writing process – they likely get asked that way too often, in way too wide of a variety of situations…


Amanda Hess of The New York Times

And we shouldn’t ask obvious questions or say obvious things that suggest we don’t understand their coverage or expertise.Tweet

Bryan Clark of The Next Web

Unfortunately for Bryan, PR people’s annoying tendencies persist even after death, according to Lauren Fisher of fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar.Tweet


Or at least until death, according to Alex Konrad of Forbes:



Following up can pay off, but doing so excessively is disrespectful to journalists’ time – and apparently makes them think about death.

Be mindful of how you approach journalists, you don’t want to come across like an angry debt collector or a nagging relative. I generally like to keep it to a couple follow-ups, unless a journalist keeps expressing tentative interest, in which case I will continue following up until my own death (please don’t test me on that, Chris P at eWEEK).

Were these tips helpful? Keep an eye on our blog for part two!


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