A private note to PR people

Instead of cleaning up their industry and getting rid of all the people who send me bad pitches, the industry has gone on attack. Shel Holtz has one of the kinder versions of this attack.

This is why I got out of the news business and why I don’t care anymore about getting on Digg or Techmeme. Many PR people have an entitlement attitude. “We will get you to cover our products one way or another.”

Shel: of course journalists want you to pitch them on email. Out of 1000 pitches 995 are crappy. I sure wouldn’t want to get 995 crappy pitches on my phone. Or 995 crappy pitches face-to-face. Email is the most efficient place to get crappy pitches. Actually that’s not true. Twitter is a far better place for crappy pitches. Why? Because they are limited to 140 characters (which actually greatly improves your chances — only 237 out of 1,000 pitches on Twitter are crappy).

I was wrong, though, to paint every PR person with the “PR sucks” brush. There are good ones. I do read every PR pitch, even the crappy ones. Of course I was being obstinate. This is blowback because I get so many crappy pitches for so many things I don’t care about.

I am not the first to ask PR people to both send me better pitches and to not do it in email. Dan Gillmor, a real professional journalist (who worked for the San Jose Mercury News and who was instrumental in getting the DOJ to go after Microsoft) said that long before I did. Back when he did that I didn’t pay attention because the PR industry hadn’t yet started sending me lots of lame pitches. I should have paid more attention. Today Gillmor is no longer a journalist. Note what his contact page says “don’t pitch me.” After being a blogger or journalist many people feel the same way. I have lots of meetings with journalists and they always gripe about the PR pitches they get. Why? Because this industry won’t clean itself up and won’t look at what it’s doing as being caustic. Even good ones like Shel Holtz won’t look internally.

Why is this a private note? Well, my readers don’t care so I wanted to let them know they can just skip this one. They just want me to find the coolest stuff in the industry to hear about and get my video camera in front of them. They don’t care about the private hell that has become my email inbox.

Yesterday I got videos of friendfeed’s press conference. Notice that they did pitch me in email, but pitched me to come to that event. Also note that friendfeed doesn’t have a PR person, they already have my attention so no need to pay $10,000 a month to get more of it. See, if your company is good it’ll probably get my attention anyway. Heck, Zappos has never pitched me (that’s a shoe company) but I am interested in that company because so many of the people I follow praise them. That’s also how I found Feedly and Evernote, two companies I like a lot.

So, how do good PR people pitch me? They do send me email. But they build a relationship with me first and find out what I like to write about. One example? Jeremy Toeman. He tells me all the time that he has clients he doesn’t pitch to me because they aren’t going to be interesting to me or my readers. He protects his relationship with me from crappy pitches.

Because Jeremy both knows me as a person and doesn’t send me tons of crappy PR pitches, when he sends me email I listen. He doesn’t just send me pitches for his own company, either. If I’ve missed something interesting he calls me and says “did you see this?” He regularly tweets the same and blogs things that I need to be aware of (sometimes even calling me on the carpet when I’m off base).

But the other interesting thing is he rarely pitches his company in email. His best pitches come when we’re walking around Golden Gate park with our kids. Or, like when he launched his new company recently, when we’re just sitting around his house (that’s why I almost always am carrying a video camera).

So, Shel, and all the other PR people, keep sending me your crappy (and good) pitches to scobleizer@gmail.com. If you think you really have something awesome, don’t email me. Call me. My phone number is on my blog. +1-425-205-1921 It’s been there for four years now. I don’t mind getting calls from people who really have something great to show me.

What do I care about now? People and companies who are fanatical about building a better Internet.

If I can’t take your call (today I’m in meetings all day, for instance). I’ll call you back when I can. Thanks and sorry if you felt attacked by my broad brushes. If you have a blog and a Twitter account you probably aren’t among the bad ones anyway so don’t stick up so much for the bad ones because that tarnishes the good work you do.

111 thoughts on “A private note to PR people

  1. This post so perfectly highlights the inversion that exists not only in music, art, literature, and even science and invention, but also internet startups:

    Early on, ‘musician’ is nothing.
    Critics, producers, DJs, and agents all look down on new struggling ‘musician’.
    ‘Musician’ has to brown nose to everybody to get anywhere: to get a gig, a crappy record label deal, a cheap guitar, etc.
    He is often considered a pest.

    But, of the clamoring 1000s of struggling musicians, a precious few will become successful, perhaps very successful, and then, the proper order of the universe will snap back into place:

    That the rock stars are everything and the critics, producers and everyone else are nothing but grubby parasites with nearly useless jobs.

    To all those out there who feel temporarily and very precariously above the surging creative forces under you, remember the Hollywood approach:

    Be kind to everyone, for you will surely be working for some of them one day, and be far below many more of them in the not so distant future.

    Same reminder to established gatekeepers of all media:

    You will never ever be anything but parasites, and will never ever (George Martin and Brian Epstein excepted) be considered anything but vermin next to the future rock stars you endlessly snub.
    So why try and act important now just to have it come back and bite you later? Just realize your post and lot in life and do your best.
    The entertainment and business worlds do need gatekeepers, just ones who are more aware of their paltry value to the world.

  2. This post so perfectly highlights the inversion that exists not only in music, art, literature, and even science and invention, but also internet startups:

    Early on, ‘musician’ is nothing.
    Critics, producers, DJs, and agents all look down on new struggling ‘musician’.
    ‘Musician’ has to brown nose to everybody to get anywhere: to get a gig, a crappy record label deal, a cheap guitar, etc.
    He is often considered a pest.

    But, of the clamoring 1000s of struggling musicians, a precious few will become successful, perhaps very successful, and then, the proper order of the universe will snap back into place:

    That the rock stars are everything and the critics, producers and everyone else are nothing but grubby parasites with nearly useless jobs.

    To all those out there who feel temporarily and very precariously above the surging creative forces under you, remember the Hollywood approach:

    Be kind to everyone, for you will surely be working for some of them one day, and be far below many more of them in the not so distant future.

    Same reminder to established gatekeepers of all media:

    You will never ever be anything but parasites, and will never ever (George Martin and Brian Epstein excepted) be considered anything but vermin next to the future rock stars you endlessly snub.
    So why try and act important now just to have it come back and bite you later? Just realize your post and lot in life and do your best.
    The entertainment and business worlds do need gatekeepers, just ones who are more aware of their paltry value to the world.

  3. I used to work in PR and I agree with Robert. Journalists want to cover good stories and it is the PR consultant’s job to help the journalist. If the client pushes you for a story you know is going to be bad, that’s when the PR consultant has to consult. Trying to push for a story that doesn’t fit or just trying your luck is nothing short of lazy. Why would a client pay you if you can’t advise them? BTW, PR today is so much easier, although the newspapers are dying, there’s a whole lot more “media” online. Be creative, try other bloggers.

  4. Geez Shane, I hope you’re not literally comparing Robert to Mickey Rourke. I assume you’re not. You’re right in that every individual (and company) goes through ups and downs, but I think you’re being a wee bit harsh.

    Based on my experience with Robert, he’s truly a nice man. He may get a little riled from time-to-time, but it’s not all about him. He is, however, a geek who found a great way to take his geekiness and technology evangelist role at Microsoft and move it beyond that traditional role. He and others started a real movement, but he doesn’t claim it all to be his own idea.

    Lookit, I don’t know Robert all that well but he doesn’t try to be more than he really is. For example, if he ever makes the cover of GQ or Men’s Vogue it won’t be because of his fashion sense, but that’s not why we read his blog now is it? :)

    And just to show I don’t always agree with him, he and I (and others) got into a bit at the FORTUNE Tech Brainstorm conference last summer. The topic was about how bloggers who work in a solo environment (such as Robert) don’t have a check and balance system. If they write or say something that’s flat out wrong or could be construed incorrectly, there’s no editor to correct the situation, or no ombudsman to complain to. In other words, Pandora is already out of the box and the problem is out there.

    After a series of discussions, he reconsidered his position on the topic. Someone who has a huge ego wouldn’t even address such a touchy topic. Anyway, I’m sure you get my point.

    Thanks for listening,
    Pam

  5. Christopher, I hear what you’re saying, but my client’s audience is extrmely targeted so the number of people we are trying to reach is very limited because of the market. The software is embedded so deeply at the chip level that very other than at the chip level would care, and even the market that’s supposedly techie enough to understand doesn’t always get it.

    In other words, it’s a different battle, and not a lack of imagination or laziness on anyone’s part. We’re just taking a different approach.

    That said, I may have something that Robert would be interested in from a humanitarian point-of-view in thh near future, just because he’s a nice guy and likes this type of stuff (as we should be I hope). However, its communication delivery mechanism is certainly not what any of us would be considered ground-breaking technology by any stretch.

    Thanks for your input,
    Pam

  6. Christopher, I hear what you’re saying, but my client’s audience is extrmely targeted so the number of people we are trying to reach is very limited because of the market. The software is embedded so deeply at the chip level that very other than at the chip level would care, and even the market that’s supposedly techie enough to understand doesn’t always get it.

    In other words, it’s a different battle, and not a lack of imagination or laziness on anyone’s part. We’re just taking a different approach.

    That said, I may have something that Robert would be interested in from a humanitarian point-of-view in thh near future, just because he’s a nice guy and likes this type of stuff (as we should be I hope). However, its communication delivery mechanism is certainly not what any of us would be considered ground-breaking technology by any stretch.

    Thanks for your input,
    Pam

  7. Scoble,
    Your bitching about the number of bad pitches your get is like the narcissistic movie actor, producer, or director bitching about the number of bad treatments that come across their desks every day. There will come a day (and don’t think there won’t) when you will be where Mickey Rourke was for so long: just hoping someone remembers you as (for some odd reason) an ‘a-list’ blogger and gives you a pitch that will once again make you relevant. So, humble yourself, be thankful (again, for some odd reason) so many PR firms find you relevant enough to be pitched, and resist the urge to bite the hand that could one day end up being the only one that feeds you.

    For every blogger like you that thinks they are now too good to be pitched, except on your terms, there are thousands that only wish they had your “problem”. So, reign in the ego and be thankful you even show up on someone’s radar.

  8. Scoble,
    Your bitching about the number of bad pitches your get is like the narcissistic movie actor, producer, or director bitching about the number of bad treatments that come across their desks every day. There will come a day (and don’t think there won’t) when you will be where Mickey Rourke was for so long: just hoping someone remembers you as (for some odd reason) an ‘a-list’ blogger and gives you a pitch that will once again make you relevant. So, humble yourself, be thankful (again, for some odd reason) so many PR firms find you relevant enough to be pitched, and resist the urge to bite the hand that could one day end up being the only one that feeds you.

    For every blogger like you that thinks they are now too good to be pitched, except on your terms, there are thousands that only wish they had your “problem”. So, reign in the ego and be thankful you even show up on someone’s radar.

  9. none of my clients have fit into the area he’s interested in hearing about.

    See above. So? Find common ground. Amazing how many PR types just play simple matching games. Although “pitching” Scoble, is a bad idea on so many other levels (the curse being chief) but the principle of the matter…making the uninterested interested.

  10. none of my clients have fit into the area he’s interested in hearing about.

    See above. So? Find common ground. Amazing how many PR types just play simple matching games. Although “pitching” Scoble, is a bad idea on so many other levels (the curse being chief) but the principle of the matter…making the uninterested interested.

  11. As someone who’s been a practioner since what seems like the beginning of time I still see/hear horrible approaches and pitches. It’s rampant and it comes from all angles: the client, senior people, and junior people. As recently as five years ago I had a client who came from a worldwide firm ask to see a copy of my “pitch script.’ I didn’t even know what that was.

    And while I’m on my soapbox, don’t we all hate the term “pitch?” Are we telemarketers? I think that’s the mentality of the “smile and dialers.”

    And while I agree with some of the comments, it’s no longer about “relationship building” which will lead to coverage. Clients want results and that’s all there is to it. There’s no patience anymore when companies are running out of money, budgets are being cut to the bone, and startups think that PR will save them. Everyone is demanding metrics regardless of whether it’s old-fashioned, mainstream media relations, analyst relations or social media.

    Think about it, when times are tough what are the first areas within a company that is cut? Marketing and PR.

    So wise up people, this recession is going to be with us for quite awhile. If you want to keep your job then learn how to do your job. Use the tools, use everything in your arsenal to do your job well, but most of all exercise common sense. And please, think about PR as a strategic way to build the client’s business, brand and reputation and not how many “hits” you can get.

    Have I ever pitched Robert in the three or four years that I’ve known him? No. Why not? Because none of my clients have fit into the area he’s interested in hearing about. We see each at conferences, and even sat on a rather goofy panel together once. We have a very nice relationship but I’m not going to pester the poor man.

    Finally, I totally agree with the person who said that good and bad clients come and go, but relationships with media (and bloggers) seem to outlast them all. Why screw those up?

  12. As someone who’s been a practioner since what seems like the beginning of time I still see/hear horrible approaches and pitches. It’s rampant and it comes from all angles: the client, senior people, and junior people. As recently as five years ago I had a client who came from a worldwide firm ask to see a copy of my “pitch script.’ I didn’t even know what that was.

    And while I’m on my soapbox, don’t we all hate the term “pitch?” Are we telemarketers? I think that’s the mentality of the “smile and dialers.”

    And while I agree with some of the comments, it’s no longer about “relationship building” which will lead to coverage. Clients want results and that’s all there is to it. There’s no patience anymore when companies are running out of money, budgets are being cut to the bone, and startups think that PR will save them. Everyone is demanding metrics regardless of whether it’s old-fashioned, mainstream media relations, analyst relations or social media.

    Think about it, when times are tough what are the first areas within a company that is cut? Marketing and PR.

    So wise up people, this recession is going to be with us for quite awhile. If you want to keep your job then learn how to do your job. Use the tools, use everything in your arsenal to do your job well, but most of all exercise common sense. And please, think about PR as a strategic way to build the client’s business, brand and reputation and not how many “hits” you can get.

    Have I ever pitched Robert in the three or four years that I’ve known him? No. Why not? Because none of my clients have fit into the area he’s interested in hearing about. We see each at conferences, and even sat on a rather goofy panel together once. We have a very nice relationship but I’m not going to pester the poor man.

    Finally, I totally agree with the person who said that good and bad clients come and go, but relationships with media (and bloggers) seem to outlast them all. Why screw those up?

  13. whose story would have been of any interest to you.

    Scoble rants notwithstanding, but that’s the high art of such, making people normally not interested, interested…finding some common linked tie-in. Anyone can target people already prior interested, and it seems anyone and everyone does. If I am covering a TV/Film beat, find a way to pitch me Enterprise software, by saying so and so TV Show is using it to do such and such. Then suddenly I care. See?

  14. whose story would have been of any interest to you.

    Scoble rants notwithstanding, but that’s the high art of such, making people normally not interested, interested…finding some common linked tie-in. Anyone can target people already prior interested, and it seems anyone and everyone does. If I am covering a TV/Film beat, find a way to pitch me Enterprise software, by saying so and so TV Show is using it to do such and such. Then suddenly I care. See?

  15. I was planning to take you to the wood shed over your PR People Suck mantra because, well, I don’t like to see my profession painted over with a bad shade of black.

    In defense of the profession there are quite a few of us who do understand that blanket pitches and frankly bad grammar tend to make us all look bad. And quite a few of us don’t use bad practices.

    That being said, I fully agree with a couple of points that you clearly make in this post (a refreshing articulation in comparison to the previous flamestorm). Much of my success in placing stories or promoting a cause has been because I have taken the time to listen, understand and build a relationship.

    First off, no one wants to be the guy who has to make a living cold-calling people to pitch them a story. And secondly, we all know that it is counterproductive. Clients love to see that you’ve talked to everyone in the world and statistics that show you blasted out a message to thousands. PR needs to demonstrate that talking to 10 people versus 10,000 often provides better results.

    So we have a problem in showing results. Coupled with the inexperience of many junior execs who are struggling to show results and you have a lot of crap being sent to Robert Scoble.

    Focused research, taking the time to build a relationship and using tools that strengthen that relationship always trumps the shotgun blast.

    Now, you could improve everyone’s lot in life if you took the time to share what you’re planning on doing next. Not an editorial calendar per se, but a forecast of things on your horizon. Help these young crap stirrers to send peaches your way instead of prunes. Point us to your crystal ball and help us build a relationship.

    Tools like HARO, ProfNet, MatchPoint, MicroPR, et. al., open the doors and allow some insight. They also allow for the building of relationships. These are tools we all should be embracing in our efforrts to improve how PR works and how PR pitches are received by other communicators.

  16. I was planning to take you to the wood shed over your PR People Suck mantra because, well, I don’t like to see my profession painted over with a bad shade of black.

    In defense of the profession there are quite a few of us who do understand that blanket pitches and frankly bad grammar tend to make us all look bad. And quite a few of us don’t use bad practices.

    That being said, I fully agree with a couple of points that you clearly make in this post (a refreshing articulation in comparison to the previous flamestorm). Much of my success in placing stories or promoting a cause has been because I have taken the time to listen, understand and build a relationship.

    First off, no one wants to be the guy who has to make a living cold-calling people to pitch them a story. And secondly, we all know that it is counterproductive. Clients love to see that you’ve talked to everyone in the world and statistics that show you blasted out a message to thousands. PR needs to demonstrate that talking to 10 people versus 10,000 often provides better results.

    So we have a problem in showing results. Coupled with the inexperience of many junior execs who are struggling to show results and you have a lot of crap being sent to Robert Scoble.

    Focused research, taking the time to build a relationship and using tools that strengthen that relationship always trumps the shotgun blast.

    Now, you could improve everyone’s lot in life if you took the time to share what you’re planning on doing next. Not an editorial calendar per se, but a forecast of things on your horizon. Help these young crap stirrers to send peaches your way instead of prunes. Point us to your crystal ball and help us build a relationship.

    Tools like HARO, ProfNet, MatchPoint, MicroPR, et. al., open the doors and allow some insight. They also allow for the building of relationships. These are tools we all should be embracing in our efforrts to improve how PR works and how PR pitches are received by other communicators.

  17. Does anyone ever write any “10 awesome pitches I’ve received lately” posts?

    For every 1,000 crappy pitches there are an equal amount of blogs complaining about getting crappy pitches.

    Switch it up some time! Fresh positive angle maybe?

    Just a thought.

    Matt. PR PERSON + JOURNALIST

  18. Does anyone ever write any “10 awesome pitches I’ve received lately” posts?

    For every 1,000 crappy pitches there are an equal amount of blogs complaining about getting crappy pitches.

    Switch it up some time! Fresh positive angle maybe?

    Just a thought.

    Matt. PR PERSON + JOURNALIST

  19. Robert (and Shel) –

    As you may know, there are many PR pros who empathize with Scoble and all journalists frustrated and angered by the amount of misguided PR pitches that flood their “in boxes.”

    The issue stems from the way in which PR people typically go about the task of identifying journalists to pitch. For the most part, they use a media database company to find the title or beats that seem to make sense. With that list in hand, those (hopefully) appropriate journalists end up on the receiving end of some blast e-mail, masked as if the recipient is the only one getting it.

    This common (and bad) practice has to change in order for PR people to regain their value in the reporting process.

    Last night, at the New York Tech Meet-up DEMO (#NYTM) event, I had the chance to demo a new search application that tackles this problem with an entirely different approach.

    Instead of job titles, MatchPoint (www.prmatchpoint.com) matches the journalist’s cumulative BODY OF WORK with the PR person’s search query (i.e., news release, pitch letter, keywords). Using a database of 200K+ journalists and 4.5 million articles, the search results are a ranked listing of those journalists who are most editorially relevant to the pitch.

    While MatchPoint will never replace lazy PR people, we believe it’s a step in the right direction toward eliminating PR SPAM.

    Peter HImler
    Principal, Flatiron Communications LLC
    http://www.flatironcomm.com
    http://theflack.blogspot.com
    http://www.prmatchpoint.com

  20. Robert (and Shel) –

    As you may know, there are many PR pros who empathize with Scoble and all journalists frustrated and angered by the amount of misguided PR pitches that flood their “in boxes.”

    The issue stems from the way in which PR people typically go about the task of identifying journalists to pitch. For the most part, they use a media database company to find the title or beats that seem to make sense. With that list in hand, those (hopefully) appropriate journalists end up on the receiving end of some blast e-mail, masked as if the recipient is the only one getting it.

    This common (and bad) practice has to change in order for PR people to regain their value in the reporting process.

    Last night, at the New York Tech Meet-up DEMO (#NYTM) event, I had the chance to demo a new search application that tackles this problem with an entirely different approach.

    Instead of job titles, MatchPoint (www.prmatchpoint.com) matches the journalist’s cumulative BODY OF WORK with the PR person’s search query (i.e., news release, pitch letter, keywords). Using a database of 200K+ journalists and 4.5 million articles, the search results are a ranked listing of those journalists who are most editorially relevant to the pitch.

    While MatchPoint will never replace lazy PR people, we believe it’s a step in the right direction toward eliminating PR SPAM.

    Peter HImler
    Principal, Flatiron Communications LLC
    http://www.flatironcomm.com
    http://theflack.blogspot.com
    http://www.prmatchpoint.com

  21. Great post. I think the main take away is news is in the eye of the beholder. You cannot make a particular journalist cover your story if they do not believe it has intrinsic news value for their audience. Spamming or harassing journalists is not the answer whether it is online or traditional news media outlets. Study your target, if your news doesn’t fit their style, beat or audience, move on.

    By the way I took Mr. Scoble up on his advice and called him with a personal pitch about what Century 21 is doing in the social media space. Will he call back? We’ll see, but I took the time to learn his preferences and appeal to the subject matter he covers with what I believe is a legitimate story that his readership would find interesting. It’s not rocket science. Study the sender – channel – message and receiver.

    Love your post too Shel. Great stuff. I’m reading your book Tactical Transparency now and applying its lessons in my efforts. John Havens gave me a copy this week.

    Regards,

    Matt Gentile, Director, PR
    Century 21 Real Estate LLC

  22. Great post. I think the main take away is news is in the eye of the beholder. You cannot make a particular journalist cover your story if they do not believe it has intrinsic news value for their audience. Spamming or harassing journalists is not the answer whether it is online or traditional news media outlets. Study your target, if your news doesn’t fit their style, beat or audience, move on.

    By the way I took Mr. Scoble up on his advice and called him with a personal pitch about what Century 21 is doing in the social media space. Will he call back? We’ll see, but I took the time to learn his preferences and appeal to the subject matter he covers with what I believe is a legitimate story that his readership would find interesting. It’s not rocket science. Study the sender – channel – message and receiver.

    Love your post too Shel. Great stuff. I’m reading your book Tactical Transparency now and applying its lessons in my efforts. John Havens gave me a copy this week.

    Regards,

    Matt Gentile, Director, PR
    Century 21 Real Estate LLC

  23. I found this article from Twitter, where quite a few of us comment (good and bad, mostly bad) about PR pitches. In fact, that’s where I got another link to an entire blog dedicated to critiquing PR pitches. This girl Maisie, who is a mommyblogger (gets a lot of pitches) started PR Pass Fail blog http://prfail.blogspot.com/ and is deconstructing the good, the bad and the ugly.

    The difference between this and Bad Pitch Blog that Shel Holtz mentioned is that instead of being run by PR people, it’s the done by a person who is a representative of the people the PR people are trying to reach.

    I confess I submitted a good pitch on her mail in offer.

    I totally agree, defensive is not the way to go. Learning and improving is.

    Great article.

  24. I found this article from Twitter, where quite a few of us comment (good and bad, mostly bad) about PR pitches. In fact, that’s where I got another link to an entire blog dedicated to critiquing PR pitches. This girl Maisie, who is a mommyblogger (gets a lot of pitches) started PR Pass Fail blog http://prfail.blogspot.com/ and is deconstructing the good, the bad and the ugly.

    The difference between this and Bad Pitch Blog that Shel Holtz mentioned is that instead of being run by PR people, it’s the done by a person who is a representative of the people the PR people are trying to reach.

    I confess I submitted a good pitch on her mail in offer.

    I totally agree, defensive is not the way to go. Learning and improving is.

    Great article.

  25. @Eugene, there’s already a Bad Pitch Blog — http://badpitch.blogspot.com/ — managed by a pair of PR professionals who, like so many others in the business, are trying to drive communicators away from these behaviors. Richard Laermer and Kevin Dugan have been inviting submission of bad pitches for display on the blog, and they’ll “out” the sender if three of his or her pitches make it onto the blog. In addition to sharing bad pitches, Kevin and Richard use the blog as a platform for advocating good practices.

  26. @Eugene, there’s already a Bad Pitch Blog — http://badpitch.blogspot.com/ — managed by a pair of PR professionals who, like so many others in the business, are trying to drive communicators away from these behaviors. Richard Laermer and Kevin Dugan have been inviting submission of bad pitches for display on the blog, and they’ll “out” the sender if three of his or her pitches make it onto the blog. In addition to sharing bad pitches, Kevin and Richard use the blog as a platform for advocating good practices.

  27. Broad strokes for sure, but lessons to be learned in this post, in Shel’s and in the comments on both posts.

    Most importantly, don’t screw up the relationship with a pitch. A pitch is not worth screwing up any relationship. The media that you have a long track record of delivering good story ideas to will be more forgiving if you miss the mark, but a crappy pitch to a reporter you don’t have any relationship with is a sure fire way to short circuit any chance of one in the beginning.

    As a manager, I stress this all the time.

    It’s unfortunate yes, clients come and go, but good and bad relationships with media will last your entire career in the business. And now, everyone will know.

    Mike Lizun
    http://www.twitter.com/mikelizun

  28. Broad strokes for sure, but lessons to be learned in this post, in Shel’s and in the comments on both posts.

    Most importantly, don’t screw up the relationship with a pitch. A pitch is not worth screwing up any relationship. The media that you have a long track record of delivering good story ideas to will be more forgiving if you miss the mark, but a crappy pitch to a reporter you don’t have any relationship with is a sure fire way to short circuit any chance of one in the beginning.

    As a manager, I stress this all the time.

    It’s unfortunate yes, clients come and go, but good and bad relationships with media will last your entire career in the business. And now, everyone will know.

    Mike Lizun
    http://www.twitter.com/mikelizun

  29. As a spanking new blogger, would you ever consider publishing all the really bad pitches? Better yet,send them to me so I can put up an American idol style blog of really bad pitches. It might be fun to vote on the best of the worst retarded ideas. Thanks

  30. As a spanking new blogger, would you ever consider publishing all the really bad pitches? Better yet,send them to me so I can put up an American idol style blog of really bad pitches. It might be fun to vote on the best of the worst retarded ideas. Thanks

  31. Since Shel invoked my name (and I work with Todd Defren, whom he also mentioned), i might as well weigh in.

    In my 10 years in PR– after a decade on the journalism side- not a month has gone by without some reporter/editor/columnist/freelance writer/blogger/podcaster complaining about spam pitches. As Shel says, as much as we would like to stamp them out, the bad PR people keep coming up because someone is feeding them.

    What I would ask of PR people is 2 things:

    1) when someone pops off about PR spam, let them vent and don’t get too worked up. If you’re good, they’re not talking about you, if you’re a scumbag you won’t care. Let the catharsis happen and we’ll all hope that someone is drawn over to the good side by one rant or another.

    2) Pay attention to the practical information. Throughout all this, Robert, you have told people how you preferred to be pitched. As far as getting our job done, that’s the end of the story. Make good pitches, do them in the way the “target” (sorry) wants them, and build a relationship with same as a good source.

    all readers and commenters: I think Robert knows his stature has made him a target for all sorts of pitches. He’s entitled to bitch about the crappy ones– I, for one, don;t take that as an attack on my industry. What I see is a common enemy. Unfortunately, there’s a reason I liken them to cockroaches (and as someone above pointed out, it’s not all the Sally smile-and-dials, but often their managers who are to blame).

  32. Since Shel invoked my name (and I work with Todd Defren, whom he also mentioned), i might as well weigh in.

    In my 10 years in PR– after a decade on the journalism side- not a month has gone by without some reporter/editor/columnist/freelance writer/blogger/podcaster complaining about spam pitches. As Shel says, as much as we would like to stamp them out, the bad PR people keep coming up because someone is feeding them.

    What I would ask of PR people is 2 things:

    1) when someone pops off about PR spam, let them vent and don’t get too worked up. If you’re good, they’re not talking about you, if you’re a scumbag you won’t care. Let the catharsis happen and we’ll all hope that someone is drawn over to the good side by one rant or another.

    2) Pay attention to the practical information. Throughout all this, Robert, you have told people how you preferred to be pitched. As far as getting our job done, that’s the end of the story. Make good pitches, do them in the way the “target” (sorry) wants them, and build a relationship with same as a good source.

    all readers and commenters: I think Robert knows his stature has made him a target for all sorts of pitches. He’s entitled to bitch about the crappy ones– I, for one, don;t take that as an attack on my industry. What I see is a common enemy. Unfortunately, there’s a reason I liken them to cockroaches (and as someone above pointed out, it’s not all the Sally smile-and-dials, but often their managers who are to blame).

  33. Thank you for this, Robert. On most issues, it seems we agree.

    At the very beginning of your post, though, you suggest that the profession “get rid of all the people who send me bad pitches.” If you have a proposal for how the profession can do this, I’m all ears. There is no license required to practice PR. Anybody can hang out a shingle and accept clients, from the highly principled and ethical who strive to behave professionally to sleazebags with no training who are looking to make a fast buck.

    The companies that employ the latter support the latter. And there is no shortage of clients to fuel their efforts.

    The profession has been vocal in its opposition to PR spam. From the major associations (IABC, PRSA, CPRS, IPR, etc.) to individual voices (Todd Defren, Doug Haslam, Neville Hobson, myself) to industry leaders (Richard Edelman, Dave Senay), the message has focused on intelligent outreach, not mindless, clueless pitching. If you read my blog and listened to my podcast, you’d know that it’s unfair to suggest that I don’t look internally. It’s in fact something of a litany on my part to make the case against PR spam.

    At the end of the day, though, advocacy is the only tool available. The profession can’t “get rid” of anybody.

    This is exactly the same situation I faced in the mid-1970s when I was receiving exactly the same flood of brainless pitches in the form of press releases and pitches delivered by the Post Office. I could easily fill a large trash can in a single morning going through that mail.

    As I noted in my post, it’s the same in virtually other line of work, just more visible in the world of PR.

    I can assure you that the associations, leaders, and others will continue to push for the adoption of the very best practices in reaching out to people like you. As I said, if you have an idea about how to “get rid” of those who just don’t care, I’d love to hear it.

    Finally, I don’t believe I’ve ever sent you a crappy pitch, probably because I’ve never pitched you at all. If memory serves, I’ve never had a client whose story would have been of any interest to you.

  34. Thank you for this, Robert. On most issues, it seems we agree.

    At the very beginning of your post, though, you suggest that the profession “get rid of all the people who send me bad pitches.” If you have a proposal for how the profession can do this, I’m all ears. There is no license required to practice PR. Anybody can hang out a shingle and accept clients, from the highly principled and ethical who strive to behave professionally to sleazebags with no training who are looking to make a fast buck.

    The companies that employ the latter support the latter. And there is no shortage of clients to fuel their efforts.

    The profession has been vocal in its opposition to PR spam. From the major associations (IABC, PRSA, CPRS, IPR, etc.) to individual voices (Todd Defren, Doug Haslam, Neville Hobson, myself) to industry leaders (Richard Edelman, Dave Senay), the message has focused on intelligent outreach, not mindless, clueless pitching. If you read my blog and listened to my podcast, you’d know that it’s unfair to suggest that I don’t look internally. It’s in fact something of a litany on my part to make the case against PR spam.

    At the end of the day, though, advocacy is the only tool available. The profession can’t “get rid” of anybody.

    This is exactly the same situation I faced in the mid-1970s when I was receiving exactly the same flood of brainless pitches in the form of press releases and pitches delivered by the Post Office. I could easily fill a large trash can in a single morning going through that mail.

    As I noted in my post, it’s the same in virtually other line of work, just more visible in the world of PR.

    I can assure you that the associations, leaders, and others will continue to push for the adoption of the very best practices in reaching out to people like you. As I said, if you have an idea about how to “get rid” of those who just don’t care, I’d love to hear it.

    Finally, I don’t believe I’ve ever sent you a crappy pitch, probably because I’ve never pitched you at all. If memory serves, I’ve never had a client whose story would have been of any interest to you.

  35. Bravo! You’re saying what all of us are thinking. Congrats. I still want to know why you’re green. ;)

  36. Bravo! You’re saying what all of us are thinking. Congrats. I still want to know why you’re green. ;)

  37. But his vision of EVERYTHING is limited and naive, and very tightly constrained to his particular circumstances. But he’s not alone, almost a 80 mile radius around Frisco, bubbles ahoy.

  38. But his vision of EVERYTHING is limited and naive, and very tightly constrained to his particular circumstances. But he’s not alone, almost a 80 mile radius around Frisco, bubbles ahoy.

  39. Robert,

    Thanks for clarifying your thoughts. Keeping each journalist’s individual preferences straight is not easy but it is the price of doing good PR.

    You have been officially added to my cell phone. ;-0

    Serena

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