“This is a lovely idea, but it isn’t one for us.”

If there were an award for the most frustrating email sent by journalists, this would win it. No “this is terrible”, no “please never contact me again” – just a sober acknowledgement of your pitch. In the words of Donald Trump: SAD!

What’s gone wrong? We’re not mind-readers, so asking why the writer didn’t want to use the content is a crucial next step.

These are some of the most common content outreach mistakes that lead to rejection, and what you can do to avoid them.

No sign

You’ve reached out to the wrong person

Picture the scene: you’ve poured hours into creating an infographic that explains how to draw the perfect eyeliner flick. It’s ideal fodder for Cosmopolitan, so you get in touch with their beauty writer who writes a monthly column for the magazine.

No response.

Most large publications now have totally separate teams for their print and digital departments – in fact, they sometimes work in different offices. If you’re lucky, the print journalist who received your email might forward it to their digital colleague, but don’t bank on it. Use a media database such as Gorkana to see detailed information about the journalists at each publication, including their beat (the thing they specialise in) and which edition they write for. At Cosmopolitan UK, for example, Cassie Powney is the Print Beauty Editor, while Victoria Jowett edits the online beauty content.

It’s too niche

I’m sure there’s somebody out there who will enjoy your infographic about great crested newts. Who knows, there may even be a magazine devoted to them. Unfortunately, however, the likelihood of your asset being picked up by a mainstream publication is limited.

All is not lost! Using a content intelligence tool such as BuzzSumo can help you find journalists around the world who have mentioned your subject. Get in touch with them using their previous article as an icebreaker and mention that your infographic might be of use if they plan on covering the topic again in the future.

Vintage TVs

It’s only relevant to one country

Want your content to go global? You’re going to have to give it universal appeal. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean translating it into thousands of languages – a little bit of English will do just fine.

Local currencies are one area to steer clear of unless necessary. A headline screaming about the £££s you can save at the supermarket will immediately turn off journalists whose audience isn’t British. Regional statistics can be another deal-breaker for writers – the health writer at the New York Times couldn’t care less if 53% of Brits have trouble sleeping.

It’s been covered recently

Nobody expects you to have minute-by-minute feeds of publications’ articles, but knowing what they’ve recently covered is important. Search for your target’s name on Muckrack for an in-depth list of their recent writing. There’s no point pitching an asset on healthy breakfast recipes if they wrote an article on the same subject the previous day.

It’s not time relevant

It pays to be prepared, but sending out an email in April promoting your Christmas gift infographic is only going to earn you ridicule.
Make like the magazines and develop your own editorial plan for maximum coverage opportunities. There are the big guns to keep in mind like Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween, but don’t forget the plethora of national awareness days, weeks and months that pop up throughout the year, from Dry January to Decembeard. Awareness Days offer a free calendar, so you’ll never miss another newsworthy event again.

With these tips, we hope your inbox will be inundated with positivity from journalists and editors!

Want to hear more about PR and content outreach? Visit our Digital PR service page to see how we nail it every time.