If you work in media relations, you’re probably tired of hearing all the examples of PR people out of control, sending journalists and bloggers information they don’t care about and will never write about. After all, this PR spam makes it harder for you to do your job. Journalists and bloggers spend less time and energy reviewing pitches if they look at them at all – and it’s all because a few (or more) of us haven’t played by the rules.
Over the course of the past couple of years, we’ve heard countless examples of PR out of control, and the steps some creative bloggers are taking to fight back. Some of the more infamous examples (you know the ones) are Chris Anderson’s list of PR spammers, Gina Trapani’s wiki of “PR Companies Who Spam Bloggers“, and the more recent “Three-Quarters of the PR email I Receive is Irrelevant. Why?” post by Josh Bernoff, in which he provides a thorough analysis of the email he receives from PR people in relation to the topics he blogs about and the information he finds useful.
What’s the problem? It’s simple, a lot of PR folks aren’t taking the time to thoroughly research and evaluate the outlets and contacts they pitch before clicking the “send” button. Many don’t read the content journalists and bloggers write, nor do they understand what type of information those contacts want to receive. Before you flood my comments with “I don’t spam journalists” responses, I realize you’re not ALL guilty of this. But as Bernoff points out in his post, a lot of the information sent to bloggers and journalists is useless. We’ve seen this as a recurring theme in the journalists we talk to – we haven’t found any exceptions.
Whether you’re just starting out in PR, or you’ve been pitching you’re heart out for longer than I’ve been alive, it’s really simple to stay off PR blacklists and to stop this type of response from fed-up journalists and bloggers – only send relevant information to them.
To Pitch, Or Not To Pitch?
That really is the question. If you ask yourself the question before you pitch, you’ll quickly separate yourself from the pack. PR professionals either know their pitch is a good fit, a bad fit, or have no idea whether it’s a fit at all. If the latter, do some legwork to figure it out, or don’t pitch it. It’s not rocket science. If it’s a good pitch, do you know how the journalist or blogger likes to receive pitches? If not, don’t pitch it (at least not until you know the answer). If it’s a bad pitch, don’t waste your time (or their time). Just blast the release out on a newswire and hope for some online pickup (you know who you are).
As somebody who’s spent the past decade building relationships with the media, it ticks me off every time I see negative posts about the PR spam issue. There is no excuse for sending off-topic information to journalists and bloggers. It only makes all of our jobs that much harder.