I've been getting pitched for stories for much longer than I've had a blog. I usually don't mind it when PR folks and company CEOs try to get me to write a column about something, but there's a lot of broadcast thinking that often goes into these pitches, which is something I do mind. I also don't like it when someone does a half-assed job of trying to customize something to make it look like it's addressed to me, or when people try to tie their concept in to my last column and screw it up. So, here's how you pitch me.
1) Be totally transparent. I know your job is to get ink for your client or company. Don't pretend that you're calling or writing for some other purpose.
2) Explain what it is that you think is important that I write about and why.
3) Read your pitch before you send it to me. If it sounds like a stretch, it probably is. Don't spend 10 paragraphs trying to tie something in to a column I recently wrote. If you're trying to pound a square peg into a round hole, you'll waste my time and yours.
4) Don't send me the same (release, story, pitch) you're going to send to everyone else.
5) Have some information ready for me, or someone at your company/client who can speak to the issues you raise.
6) Don't push for me to talk to someone (client CEO, executive at your company) about something non-specific because you think we'd have an interesting conversation. If I want to talk to somebody at your company, it means I really want to gather valuable background info about something specific or do an interview. I don't have a lot of time for small talk.
7) Don't lie to me. The rule is pretty simple. If you lie to me and I catch you, I never speak to you as a source again.
8) If I indicate I don't want to write a story about what you're pitching, don't continually send me e-mail or leave me phone messages about what a mistake I'm making by not writing about whatever it is. My job isn't to cover every little thing I see. It's to crank out a limited number of informed opinion pieces every month.
9) Don't ask me what I think about something and then get pissed because I didn't give you the opinion you were looking for. You're free to disagree with me and I'm free to disagree with you. You can try to change my mind and I'll listen, but I don't tolerate unfocused anger or poor treatment very well.
10) My very favorite stories are the ones that no one wants to talk about and that people try to keep buried. Bring these to me, or set me on the right path to find them, and I will love you.