Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Indiscriminate Pitching

I once e-mail-pitched a reporter at the Washington Post, who replied and asked to be removed from my press list, since his beat did not overlap with my own. I complied immediately, and that was that.

Others have not been so lucky, as was the case recently with Wired executive editor Chris Anderson.

Deluged with news releases from, as Anderson put it, flacks who "can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching," Anderson posted on his blog the addresses from 329 unsolicited e-mails he had received.

The list included people from some of the leading pr firms who should have known better: Edelman, 5W Public Relations, Fleishman-Hillard, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, and Weber Shandwick.

Beyond the public shaming, since their e-mail addresses were made public, the publicists soon found themselves on the receiving end of real spam. "[T]urnabout is fair play,” Anderson opined.

Moral of the story: Indiscriminately pitch a reporter, and you may just find out what indiscriminate e-mail feels like yourself.

Update (12/1/07): Valleywag reprints "some best-practice guidelines for engaging with bloggers":

  • Don't pitch, talk: Bloggers are for the most part well-versed in PR spin and hyperbole and react poorly to it. Help the writer do a better job.
  • "A-List" blogs that consistently receive attention. It's a better tactic to find someone smaller interested in the "pitch." A worth story will find its way up.
  • Use links.
  • Be brief.
  • Don't send attachments.
  • Make sure you're not asking for coverage you've already gotten.
  • Make sure you're not asking for coverage someplace that just trashed your client.
  • Rushing through outreach efforts—to traditional media or online media—is no excuse for being sloppy. If something doesn't look right ask for help.

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