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[Translated version of my Danish blog post]

Being part of the PR-business is not always easy. And certainly not in the United States. And if you are working with online media, then you could really be at risk.

But IMO, it is sometimes entirely self-inflicted. The cases are listed below are so horrible that the involved PR agencies/persons had it coming.

But the cases are also important so that others do not follow in their footsteps.

In short, there are two cases which have really been in the focus of attention in the States.

1. PR agencies way to pitch
2. Embargo of press releases

1. PR agencies way to pitch
To pitch a story to a media is one of the many tasks we have as part of the PR business. Sometimes it can be a hard job when the story is not just for the frontpage and other times it is a great pleasure when the story is very good. But no matter what, a pitch requires equal parts professionalism and courtesy. But that is not always the case …

In the U.S., the director of a New York-based public relations agency HWH Public Relations , Lois Whitman, just showed how NOT to act when making a pitch. When she could not get her story through to a website and the editor of the site nicely asked not to be pitched again because he didn’t write about the products she represented – he was the yelled at in a mail which of course now is on the internet. See it here in its full length .

A short excerpt:

I do not need you to tell me what is right or what is wrong.

I have been in the CE business for 42 years

I have seen nasty people like you melt away faster than a snowball going up hill in the rain

This mail and her blog posts which also includes a conversation about how she spams journalists via mail and phone calls are worth looking at – just so you know what NOT to do. Read more here .

Of course, to make PR like this is totally nuts. And it has also created a lot of attention – for example, read Tech Crunch and Crunch Gear ‘s coverage of the case here and here .

All the fuss has apparently been a wake-up call for Lois Whitman, and she has written a apology on her blog , but I do not think it is enough. Her behavior has apparently been such for a long time and I don’t think she is going to change in the near future. A good example of her way to do PR can be read at her blog when she last year tried to tell why it’s perfectly acceptable to spam journalists .

I do not understand journalists (thank goodness there are only a handful of them) who get on this spam kick. They ask to be deleted from mailing because they do not want to be spammed. The time it took them to ask me to remove them from our mailing lists certainly took 100 percent more time than what it would have been to just “delete”.
I wonder what their bosses would think if they knew that their writers / editors did not want to receive information.

By asking to be cut from lists, you only cut yourself off in this world of digital communications.

Sure, you may not be interested in this particular news item, but who knows, the next one could be exactly what you need.

She ends with

Junk mail is a necessary evil. Get over it

Well… I do not quite agree …

Well, enough about Lois Whitman …

2. Embargo of press releases
Most public relations people and journalists knows of embargo of a press release – in other words, it may not be published until a certain time.

In the U.S., it has apparently gone fashion to break these embargo, in order to be first with the news. One of the reasons is that public relations agencies mindlessly send unique “solo-stories” to all media and not just a few. It water down the “solo-concept” and when the PR-agencies do not take the consequences and “punish” them in violation of the embargo (e.g. by not sending them the news in a period, as Google and Microsoft are doing according to Tech Crunch ), then there is really no reason why the media should keep such agreements.

This has gotten Tech Crunch to make public that they in the future will break all embargo as a kind of revolt and thereby they hope that both media and PR agencies finds a solution. Read the story here.

Of course the media should stick to an agreement of a embargo, if one is agreed upon. And of course PR agencies shall do not send solo pitches to everybody…

You would think that both of the above examples could not take place – after all it is obvious that it is wrong or is it? Because if you read the Bad Pitch Blog it is apparently not so rare that public relations agencies working with the head under their arm.

Fortunately, it is not so bad here in Europe – or ….?

Well – if your answer is a PR agency. Then you’re probably wrong!

That’s the result of a new British report Econsultancy – Online PR Industry Benchmarking Report. The report contains answers from 300 UK marketers and PR professionals, working for both in-house company teams and for agencies.

The results show that when companies outsource Online PR to agencies or specialists, 49 % of them use some other type of agency than a PR agency, like search agencies, web development agencies, full-service digital agencies or advertising agencies.

These results seems to indicate that companies dosen’t trust PR agencies to handle their Online PR strategy. In regards to that the report also have a another interessting finding. Only 48% of the companies are satisfied with their agency’s level of Online PR knowledge.

When you compare those two findings it could be an obvious conclusion that the companies perhaps have made a mistake not to trust PR agencies with their Online PR strategy.

PR strategies – both online and traditional – demands experience and knowledge of public relations. And here a PR professional have a big advantage, but that also demands that the PR professional educates himself continuously on social media and other online media. When you combine experience from the offline and online world with great knowledge of how public relations works – then it’s a powerfull combination, which can give the client many advantages.

Challenge
But the report also indicates that we as PR professionals have a big challenge ahead. We need to educate ourselves and we need to draw attention to the fact that we have the knowledge needed to handle Online PR strategies.

I’m ready – are you?