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PR pitch blunders you don't know you're making: #5 asking for copies from the journalist

By Alistair Wilkinson, Founder of The Media Room.

This week I'm discussing common mistakes people make when pitching stories to journalists. It's been a great exercise, and I've really appreciated all the feedback you've been giving me.
At the bottom of this post you'll find an infographic summarising the worst five blunders I've identified.
The last one? Asking the journalist for a copy of the story. It is hardly a hangable offence, but it will annoy a lot of reporters.
Here's why.
Asking for a copy from the journalist
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, journalists are really busy these days. The internet has made deadlines constant. Convergence and shrinking budgets mean reporters are juggling more and more balls.
Getting a copy of a story can be an arduous process. Newsrooms rarely have someone allocated to do it. If there is a person, they are usually in another part of the organisation. That means it is up to the journalist to track them down. And that takes time they often don't have. Moreover, journalists get into the business to do journalism, not admin. So, 9 times out of ten they resent the task and they're not very good at following up.
I understand, you need a copy to show the client or scan for your website. Here's the smart alternative to asking the journalist.
Call the switchboard and tell them what you need. It is their job to help with stuff like this. Usually they'll be able to put you on to the person responsible for sourcing the material you want. Yes, there will be a fee, but it's worth it, not to burn your relationship with the journalist.
It is also worth scanning the organisation's website. Sometimes they will have a 'buy a copy of this story' link, which takes you straight to where you need to be.
Alternative views
One of the things I love about blogging is when it triggers conversations, and helps me to think critically around a subject.
On Tuesday, I suggested you should be making a follow up call to the newsroom as soon as you've sent your email.
But Suz Burgess from One News made the point that getting a phone call while you are still reading an email can be really annoying.
She's right. Maybe wait half an hour.
That's it for this week. Have a look at the infographic below and please share if you feel the urge. I'll be back next week with some thoughts on setting aside three hours a week develop new contacts face to face.
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