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Media relations is known for being both an art and a science. It's little wonder, then, that so many public relations professionals come across as if they're using a 99-cent watercolor set and grade school chemistry kit when they're pitching editors.

I had the opportunity to attend a recent high-tech trade show as a press representative for a trade magazine. I registered with the show and gave my credentials and magazine information. The organizers added my contact information to a list that was made available to exhibitors so that they could contact me prior to the event in hopes of scheduling a briefing or otherwise securing media coverage.

I received 165 email pitches, invitations and news releases from media professionals around the world, and very few of them got my attention for anything other than being great examples of what not to do.

Nothing is all bad, though—it can always be used as an example of what not to do. In that spirit, here are a few guidelines and lessons that might benefit us all as we try to break through the clutter with truly artful and strategic media pitches.

Don't be overly familiar with editors

Being familiar is fine for friends and even people you've previously met, but not for a complete stranger. Although being overly formal can be just as bad, phrases like "I hope this note finds you well," "wanted to touch base with you," and "anyway, if you'd like to schedule some time" are much too casual for someone you've never met.

Lesson: Be polite, but not chummy.

Understand that not all editors are experts

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Brian Pelletier is President of Green Cardinal Communications. Reach him at