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Pitching pitfalls: unpacking the art of unsuccessful pitches

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As media relations experts, we’re often inundated with pitching success stories. “How I landed top tier coverage” isn’t an uncommon flex. But PR pros know, that’s the exception, not the rule. 

For those of us working in the health tech space, this rejection can be even more frustrating — because we know the impact our clients’ work can have on patients and healthcare in general. Here are some of the top reasons pitches end up in the trash file, and how to avoid these common pitching pitfalls:  

Lack of relevance 

Do your homework! Reporters receive hundreds of pitches a day — they barely have time to read your email, much less reply if it’s not relevant to them.  Educate yourself on each reporter’s beat, recent coverage, and outlets they write for. Then, connect your pitch to the reporter’s audience, topics of interest, and other important parameters — such as location.  And remember, old news is old news. If a reporter wrote an article about the mental health space five years ago, but now covers veterinary health, it’s unlikely your pitch on behavioral health tech for rural communities will be relevant now. 

Overly promotional

A reporter’s job is to cover a story, not promote a company, product, or service. Journalists seek compelling stories that resonate with their audiences, rather than thinly veiled advertisements. When a pitch is excessively promotional, it lacks the authenticity and objectivity necessary for a news story.  

Here’s an example of a pitch we would never send out on our client’s behalf:

Greetings [Sam]

I would like to share with you the absolute marvel that is [company name]. We know you receive countless pitches, but we promise you, this one is different. In fact, it's not just different; it's downright extraordinary. [company X’s product name] is the best!

Why? Because [company name] isn't your run-of-the-mill healthcare technology company. No, we're not like every other company out there, and that's what makes us the absolute best. While others are content with mediocrity, we're pushing the boundaries and setting the gold standard for innovation. From revolutionary wearables to groundbreaking medical devices, we've left our competitors in the dust. 

Interested in an exclusive interview with our CEO, a VIP tour of our awe-inspiring facilities, or an early sneak peek at our soon-to-be-legendary upcoming product?

Thank you, 


Below, an example of a pitch we WOULD send out on our client’s behalf:

Greetings [Sam]

I am reaching out to share new developments in the healthcare technology space that are poised to revolutionize patient care and monitoring. In an era where innovation is key to improving health outcomes, we are witnessing significant strides in the integration of wearables and medical devices.

[Company name] is focused on enhancing patient engagement, streamlining healthcare delivery, and empowering individuals to take charge of their well-being. I’d like to connect you with the CEO of [company name], who can further discuss the details below for your medical device section of [X] website.

Here are some key highlights:

Smart Wearables for Personalized Health Insights:

  • How devices leverage advanced sensors and algorithms to provide users with personalized health insights, including heart rate variability, sleep patterns, and stress levels. 

Remote Monitoring Solutions for Chronic Conditions:

  • Addressing the growing need for remote patient monitoring, how medical devices that offer real-time tracking of vital signs can help with managing chronic conditions Healthcare providers can now remotely monitor patients, ensuring timely intervention and reducing the need for frequent hospital visits. This not only enhances patient convenience but also contributes to more efficient healthcare delivery.

Interoperability for Seamless Healthcare Integration:

  • The impact of how devices designed with interoperability in mind can help facilitate seamless integration with existing healthcare systems. 

As we move forward in this era of healthcare innovation, [company name]’s commitment is to contribute to a healthier, more connected world. Please let me know if I can connect you for a brief interview.

Thank you for your consideration,


Poor timing

Poor timing in a pitch can significantly diminish its effectiveness and reduce the likelihood of getting picked up for coverage. 

Here are some examples: 

  1. A major story is breaking. The recent Hamas attacks in Israel is an obvious one, but there can also be regional or beat-specific news you shouldn’t compete with. For example, if there’s a major FDA ruling on a common ingredient in an over-the-counter medicine, it’s probably not the right time to pitch survey data on patient quality to health reporters who’s current coverage is on this new ruling.
  2. Timeliness. For the same reason most of us don’t make a holiday gift list in April, it’s important to ensure your pitches are timely. If your client offers light therapy to help ease symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, pitching this to reporters during the height of summer likely won’t resonate.
  3. Publication deadlines and recent coverage. Recognizing publication deadlines is paramount; If a reporter is looking for a source by a specific deadline and you submit after that timeframe, it’ll likely be rejected for inclusion. Likewise, pitching a topic the outlet recently covered isn’t likely to receive additional ink. 

Long pitches

In the fast-paced world of media, brevity often reigns supreme. A very long pitch, no matter how well-crafted or informative, may face challenges in capturing the attention of journalists. As a rule of thumb, we recommend 250 words max as a best practice.

In an era where quick decision-making is crucial, a concise and compelling pitch stands a higher chance of making an immediate impact. Journalists are more likely to engage with a pitch that succinctly conveys the key points, making it easier for them to quickly assess its newsworthiness and relevance to their audience. Therefore, keeping pitches concise and focused is a strategic approach to increasing the likelihood of securing coverage. 

You can cut back on the copy in a pitch by introducing a source with their top credentials (title, X company), rather than their full bio, linking a company’s website where a journalist can learn more vs including a paragraph about what the company does, and providing bulleted highlights of key takeaways vs lengthy paragraphs. 

No call to action

If your media pitch doesn’t have a call to action (CTA), what you really have is a poor execution of your pitch. Here are a few reasons how a weak call to action, or none at all, can jeopardize coverage.

The buried CTA

  • Burying your CTA can convey a lack of urgency and motivation. The CTA should always be placed at the top of the pitch, and specify what the reporter can expect from your source.

This looks something like this: Greetings [Amanda]. Earlier this week [company name] announced their Series B funding. I’d like to connect you via a brief phone call with the CEO of [company name] to further discuss the three ways on how these funds will propel the company forward in the next year..

Neglecting hyperlinks, attachments, etc.

  • One of the many ways you can demonstrate a CTA is through hyperlinking a company website, LinkedIn profile, or journal/data source. Reporters don’t have time to research the people or companies in your pitch before deciding to cover it, so make your pitches convenient by including links.   

Unpacking the art of unsuccessful pitches reveals critical elements that, when overlooked or mishandled, can undermine the effectiveness of communication strategies. Recognizing and addressing these aspects in crafting pitches is essential for refining communication approaches, ensuring that messages resonate with the intended audience, and ultimately increasing the likelihood of success.

Corrie Fisher

Corrie's healthcare expertise spans more than a decade. She has held several in-house positions, such as managing communication programs to support clinical trial research at Mass General Brigham. During the latter part of her career, Corrie has worked on the agency side representing healthcare systems, such as HCA Healthcare, and health technology companies of all growth stages to help amplify their stories through PR efforts


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