Bloggers like to think that they hold exclusive rights to getting bad or inappropriate PR pitches, but that really is the exclusive right of mainstream journalists. This past weekend, there are two great examples of why sometimes PR people and publicists - yes they are different - sometimes need to rethink what they are doing.
From the San Francisco Chronicle's Alan Saracevic comes this little ditty - trying to profit off the hurricane Rita and Katrina. Of course, it comes in the form of a pitch from a PR firm. Saracevic does the same thing that other journalists usually do when they print pitches in the paper, and goes classy by redacting the firm and the PR person's name - why can't PR people or bloggers do the same? - but does print the pitch.
I wonder, though, if this courtesy is going to stop with the desire to fully blog pitches.
Anyway, as Saracevic notes:
Where do you even begin to hate this PR pitch? I mean, to use the death and destruction of the entire Gulf Coast to promote your Web site is not simply obscene, it's psychotic. Only an Internet firm would see profiteering as a virtue, although I suppose they're still learning the corporate ropes.Then I got to find via Romensko this ditty of a story from the Modesto Bee, with publicists trying to win favor from movie reviewers by sending them gifts.
The only problem: the reporters can't keep any product. You see, most newspapers have guidelines that say you cannot accept gifts more than $25 (well, that's using one paper I used to work with as an example).
As the columnist writes:
And it's a total waste. No one writes or chooses favorable stories or reviews based on swag. Plus, it's unethical to keep it. So we hand over anything worth anything to our bosses, and when the holidays roll around, it's auctioned off in a buildingwide Book of Dreams benefit sale. At least that way, a little money goes for something worthwhile.Now, don't think I am disregarding mailing media kits. Not at all, because they are quite affective. For the Holiday season, I am in the midst of pushing out media kits because it works. You get the information into the hands of people that are more entertainment or general audience oriented that are not techy, but want the photos and information in a way that they can use. It's called pitching to targets, and pitching in a way that they want ... which is why dropping email for RSS, or dropping releases for blogs, is not always a viable solution.
But, gifts for gifts sake - or just schwag - doesn't work, and rarely does.
It's funny, though. What I am speaking about at BlogOn 2005 is how to pitch bloggers, and how I have been pitched as a blogger. It should be an interesting turn of events, because I really don't believe that there is a difference in pitching, just a difference in audiences. Should I pitch a blogger that could care less about a product, or pitch a non-Java mobile application to Russell Beattie? No, because that's just dumb pitching. And, that's what hurts PR more than railing against surveys by top global PR firms that are trying to push the industry forward: pitches that are not targeted nor thought-through to the end. Or, what we used to just call bad PR.