PR Pitching and Blacklists

In all this tempest in a teapot over Gina Trapani's Wiki - PR people are ignoring a few basic facts: it was her personal email address; it's intrusive; PR is still not training; junior staff is not being supervised ... the list can go on and on.

I think I've pitched LifeHacker once in my career - and pretty sure I used the email address. Eh, I can't remember, but odds are I did ... because I'm sure that list is still being used, and the old firm isn't on the Wiki.

Bondage Teapot
Originally uploaded by publicenergy.

But, you know, one of the problems with PR is that we rely too much on technology. We are not dialing phones like we used to, so are missing out on the development of real face-to-face conversations and relationships.

So, I'm going old school. I've hired a former FBI agent. He used to be deep undercover in the mafia, and went by Johnny. He's digging up records for me - all legally, of course, with no pre-texting - for cell phone numbers. None of this wimpy work phone crap, though: I'm going hardcore and getting personal mobile phone numbers.

Because, when I call, I want to be able to reach the person immediately. No voicemail (like reporters return calls, snort). Just direct connects.

If this does not work, there is always showing up at the homes. That's the next step - popping over for breakfast or dinner (no pork, please, I'm Jewish). We'll get those meetings, and we'll get that coverage ... because I'm going that extra mile.

That's just how I roll.
  1. you know- i spent all that time making a post on how to pitch to me, i even have a big fat link to it on my contact form - no one reads it. it's amazing.

  2. The bottom line is that black lists don't work. I detail some of the reasons in my post Black Lists Don't Work. Focusing on the black list distracts us from the real issue, which is what *should* companies do to better engage with journalists and bloggers.

    I'd rather keep working to solve the real problem than argue about who is wrong or right.

  3. I agree. Blacklists are just a way for scribes to get back at us PR flacks. However, PRs just need to think. The shotgun approach is dead. Do your homework. Read the people you want to pitch before you pitch them. Engage in the conversation. Become a reliable source. Prove your value (even if it doesn't result in a clip for a client). PR is all about basic human interaction - comms 101. It's about the relationships stupid.

  4. I don't know if black lists of entire PR firms is warranted. I do believe that PR firms need to do better training. I have a list of some blogger's and their pitch policies here: Maybe this will help?

    From a client perspective, if my agency did a shot gun approach and got MY COMPANY blacklisted, I would be insanely pissed. So think about it - if clients started getting blacklisted and walked, PR agencies would be hit monetarily. Would this be enough to address this issue? Maybe, maybe not.

  5. I don't agree with the blacklists, and, I do agree with Susan, let's focus on what should be done.

    It comes down to basic manners on both sides.

    PR, do your research, engage in the conversation, treat bloggers like actual people, not news outlets.

    Bloggers, know what you want from these relationships, be professional and polite and just say, "no thanks", or delete the message.

  6. Blacklists, while cruel, are inevitable. PR practitioners used to use rolodex cards and yellow books to track down members of the press core, now we have somewhat sassy databases.

    So reporters and bloggers, given the technology to use blacklists, are naturally doing so.

    And it's not the media's fault. Too many PR professionals aren't doing a good enough job, for lack of good training, good sense, or good stuff to promote.

    A pitch often starts with an interruption, for example: "Hi Tom, my name is Susan and I wondered if you had a minute to talk about ______..." The reporters answer when asked if they have time to be interrupted, is often, "uh, NO." And with good reason, no one likes to be interrupted, and in today's economy -- who has time for it?

    A better way to roll is what I call the assistance pitch.

    It starts with being well informed about:
    1) The Journalist
    2) The Publication
    3) Your Client

    And it's not a quickie. If you want a relationship with a reporter, you first need to meet them. Once you meet you need to gain their trust. And then you need to prove that you're valuable and worth their time.

    So instead of a "pitch," try this out for a spin. "Hi Tom, I've read the last 10 years of your work, not only at Forbes, but way back into your days reporting kids soccer at the Miami Herald. Since you now cover telecom, and I work in the industry, how about we meet at the starbucks near your office (K+13th) when your not on deadline to connect?"

    Reporters will meet PR people who make the right approach, and they'll work with you for years if you prove your mettle and integrity. It also helps if you know your stuff better than the press, so you can assist them find and scoop new angles, offer sources that aren't paying you, and move quick. Blacklists are a symptom, the problem is that this mindless straight pitch stuff doesn't work, and aint worth trying 9 out of 10 times.

  7. i agree to this..


Post a Comment