7 Surefire Ways to Get Yourself on a Reporter's "Block/Don't Call" List

Lessons from Cision’s 2021 Global State of the Media Report

For PR professionals, establishing and building relationships with journalists is a critical part of the job. But the problem with relationships is that they can end just as quickly as they began – and it’s not always clear as to why. Until now.

For the recent 2021 State of the Media survey, we asked journalists what compels them to block PR people from their contacts or put them on their “don’t call” list – and they were more than happy to share. (We suspect they’ve been wanting to get this off their chests for a while.)

If you want to avoid being ghosted by journalists, avoid the following actions, which are almost guaranteed ways to end up on their “block/don’t call” lists:

  1. Pitching apples to journalists who cover oranges. The overwhelming majority of journalists (73%) won’t hesitate to block a PR pro who “spams” them with irrelevant pitches. The solution? Do your homework. Google the journalists you plan to reach out to in order to learn about them, their beats and their audiences. Too time-consuming? Try using a database like Cision Connect, where you quickly identify the right reporters and influencers for your ideal audiences.
  2. Following up. Again. And again. While journalists’ preferences over how quickly a PR person should follow up vary widely (many want two days or longer to look over a pitch, while others never want follow up), most agree that following up repeatedly is the WORST. Tread carefully, or you could easily end up on their “blocked” list.
  3. Providing information that is suspect. More than half of journalists agree that providing inaccurate or unsourced information is an unforgiveable offense. Make sure you fact check every claim you make in your pitch, and have credible sources to back it up.
  4. Sounding like a marketing brochure. The reason you avoid cousin (and self-proclaimed entrepreneur) Lenny at family reunions is the same reason many journalists write off certain PR pros: Every interaction feels like a business proposition. If your pitches read more like “As Seen on TV” scripts than an actual human being, 1 in 2 journalists aren’t going to buy what you’re selling – ever again.
  5. Gaslighting (or simply disappearing). If you dodge inquiries or aren’t transparent, you risk damaging your trustworthiness as a source and cause reporters to ghost you later on.
  6. Taking your sweet@** time to respond. Most journalists today are under tight deadlines and need to work at lightening speed. If you aren’t there to respond to them within their deadlines, it’s easy to see why 3 in 10 reporters will refuse to work with you again.
  7. Flaking. With the vast majority of reporters juggling multiple beats, they need a PR partner they can count on – that means someone who doesn’t cancel at the last minute or break an embargo. For 1 in 4 reporters, that’s enough to say “buh-bye!”

For more insight into what journalists want from PR pros, read the full 2021 State of the Media Report.

Go deeper: Join us for our very first State of the Media Summit, a two-day event bringing together some of the biggest names in media to discuss, among other things, challenges and opportunities ahead for PR and journalism.

REGISTER FOR THE 2021 STATE OF THE MEDIA SUMMIT

About Mary Lorenz

Mary Lorenz is the Content Lead of Software for Cision, where she writes about best practices and thought leadership for marketing, communications and public relations professionals. She has a background in marketing, public relations and journalism and over 15 years of experience in copywriting and content strategy across a variety of platforms, industries and audiences.

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