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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 ….?

Advertisements

When you are in the PR business one of your goal is to get best possible publicity both online and offline. And when you talk about online media you have to think about blogs also. They are becomming more and more important.

If you live in the US you already know what I’m talking about. Blogs are as important as traditional media – sometimes even more important. It depends on the topic. But how do you pitch a blogger?

Simple advice

Well, if you want to pitch Sarah Lacy – journalist and author – you should read her advice on how to pitch her here.

Here she write down some simple advice on how to pitch a blogger. Some of the advice seems very very simple and obvious but then again – so does most things when you read about them. Her advices are therefore very good reading and it should be basic reading for all PR professionals.

Here are a short list of the most important advice:

– know the name of the blogger and use it corretly
– only pitch a blogger with material the blogger actual writes and cares about
– don’t contact the blogger as BCC in a mail you send to serveral others
– be part of the blogosphere for some time before you pitch bloggers
– research, research and research…

An unprofessional pitch can backfire
A blogger shall be treated as a professional and if you don’t the result can be more devastating than you think.

If you pitch without respect for the individual blogger, you run several risks:

– risk of getting no mention (very likely)
– risk of getting bad press yourself i.e. the blogger could write a blog post about how unprofessional you and your company are (very likely)
– risk of getting bad press for your client i.e. the blogger could write a blog post about your client stating that they are very unprofessional (very likely)
– risk of never being able to contact the blogger again and thereby minimize the chance of getting good reviews etc. (likely)
– risk of getting a bad reputation among bloggers i.e. bloggers are closely connected within the same topics (likely)
etc.

All risks you can avoid if you treat bloggers with respect!

If you want to read more about pitches which have gone wrong – you could try reading the Bad Pitch Blog – it’s both funny, educational and sometimes a bit scaring to see how unprofessional some professionals can be.