I’ve seen it. The template pitch. The “cut this person’s name out <here> and insert next person’s name <here>.” Outlook usually has this cute feature where any new text in a forwarded e-mail turns a different color making any changes obvious. I cannot stand when people carelessly forward along identical e-mails. Even more when they make it so obvious. It makes me wonder how many of these e-mails editors, producers and reporters receive… And I shiver.
Below is an e-mail I received from a guy we’ll call Jason. Jason is a very nice man. He came into my office, asked for some business contacts I knew and said he’d be happy to refer me any clients he had looking for PR. Great! All the greatness ended when Jason sent me this e-mail:
Hi Kate, ,
How are you?
I have attached recommendation letters I have received from other clients and CPAs I work with.
I wanted to find out if you would write something similar for me and put on your letterhead.
It only has to be like 4 or 5 sentences.
I also wanted to find out if you know of any new businesses opening up , change of business ownerships anywhere or if you know anyone I can call about <insert his company>.
Thanks again for your support. You can scan and email the letter or fax it to me at 888 _-_-_-_-_.
A number of things are wrong with this e-mail BUT let’s point out the obvious. You send me an e-mail after doing nothing for me or adding any value to our relationship. You send this to me after I’ve “known” you for two weeks (and I met you once). You blatantly spammed me with the same e-mail you’ve been sending to others you’ve met. The blue text, spacing issues and horrid comma placement when you first address me screams: “I forwarded this template e-mail.”
Let’s bring it back to what it’s all about. We should never spam journalists. We do our best work tailoring pitches to their specific needs. Sure, some angles can work for multiple outlets, but we don’t just forward on a generic, bland, non-specific pitch. And we create relationships. I always make sure to offer up the types of clients I work with to journalists when I first “strike up a conversation” (of course in the right context). I say something to the effect of “this is what I’ve got, these are the people I work with, if we can be of any help, let me know and I’d be happy to do so if the time and place are right.” Asking them for something immediately has benefitted them in no way.
Of course, this sales/reference e-mail is a bit different. We (hopefully) provide content to editors looking to fill publication pages, but the moral of the story carries over.