How can you get the best results from the pitches you make going into the new year? Michael Smart, chief executive officer of Michael Smart PR, provides a few answers to that question in the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview with Doug Simon.

First off, he says, the bar for getting your pitched ideas into such mainstream national media as the national networks, 24-hour news networks and publishing platforms like the New York Times and Washington Post is going to be very high.

A better option might be what Smart calls “slightly focused targets,” which could be anything from the Wall Street Journal, with its business focus, to such specialized publications as Fast Company, Wired and Inc., and “then on down the road from there.”

Smart also outlines some of the simple mistakes that can derail even the best-placed pitch. Don’t send template pitches, and don’t blast pitches, he advises. And even though using mail merge properly almost seems like something too elementary to mention, Smart says “journalists complain that people get this stuff wrong.”

You also need to know what topics are top of mind for journalists—and which ones they’re hearing about over and over again.

He also stresses the need to know something about the journalists who will be receiving your pitch. “There’s really no excuse anymore not to be aware of what the journalist has written, covered, produced in advance,” he tells Simon.

According to Smart, the important thing is to really do your homework before the pitch goes out. “The key today,” he says “is targeting the right people, customizing the outreach for their needs, and resisiting your boss who wants you to spam or blast the same message to all the same people.”

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at [email protected]

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.