This blog post first appeared on Spin Sucks
by: Gini Deitrich
I hate PR people.
I can say that because I am one, but also because those of you who do blogger and media relations disappoint me.
It’s rare these days for me to go out with friends without hearing a story of how a PR person didn’t do their research or prepare their client for an interview before a blogger or “social media influencer” was approached.
In fact, it’s become a game to see who can tell me the worst story they’ve had of late. Their ultimate goal is to hear me yell, “I hate PR people!”
Unfortunately, it’s a refrain both friends and my Arment Dietrich team hear a lot.
The Auto Show
Take the Auto Show, for instance. A handful of social media influencers were invited as media to a dinner and the opening without an understanding of why they were there. From my purview, it looks like the PR people went to the Social Media Club website, downloaded a list of their former and current board members, and invited those people.
No research. No discussion about why each was invited. No review of whether or not they have blogs and if those blogs fit the client’s needs. No expectations set. No client preparation for the interviews. Nothing.
Not only did the bloggers/influencers not understand why they were there (though it sounds like they had a blast…and free dinner), the clients didn’t know who each of them were and were not prepared to answer specific questions about the blogger’s expertise or topic.
I get it. I do. Your job is to get as many interviews during the show as you can. No one said they had to be good interviews or make sense for the client. As long as the interviews happened and your client was busy talking to many bloggers or journalists, the event is a perceived success.
Even better if all of those people write something, but I know you can’t guarantee that they will, so you don’t.
But it’s not just events. It’s daily pitching that is a disaster, too.
I know we’ve talked about this before and I also realize most of you who read this blog are not the offenders.
Perhaps you’ll either forward this to a friend or they’ll find it through search (but that also means they know they’re doing something wrong and want to fix it, which is a huuuuuge leap).
The Rules of Pitching
I’ve put together a list of seven things you must do when pitching a blogger or journalist, no matter if it’s for an event or a story you want us to cover.
- The online media directories, such as Cision and Vocus, are a starting point. They help you create lists easily and target effectively, but the services do not do the research for you.
- Do your freaking research. I get an email at least five times every day that has nothing to do with anything we cover here. One of my favorites of late? Someone wrote an article on Super Bowl advertising, sent it to hundreds of people in the “to” line (didn’t even BCC everyone) and invited all of us to run it. I guess that PR pro has never heard of Google Panda or duplicate content.
- Go online. It used to be that we would get out the big, green Bacon’s books, copy a list of people, and then either subscribe to the magazines and newspapers or go to the library and check them out to do research. I remember how exciting it was when everything went online. No more hours of research. But no one uses the Internet. Every, single blog has an “about” page, which typically includes what they write about and how to pitch them. READ THAT.
- Stop the spam. I swear if I get one more email that doesn’t have an unsubscribe button, the poor PR pro on the other end is going to have the wrath of hundreds of poor email pitches built up over time.
- Stop emailing me multiple times. If I don’t respond, I am not interested. You forwarding your previous email to me, to show me how many times you’ve sent it to me without response is not charming or enduring. I get hundreds of emails a day. If I want to do something with yours, you will hear from me or Lindsay Bell. If it’s not well-researched and the pitch isn’t relevant to us, I will delete it without responding. Don’t contact me again.
- If I tell you no, don’t contact Lindsay. And vice versa. Sometimes I’ll tell you no because the story isn’t interesting to us or because you want it to run tomorrow and we don’t have space for it. Lindsay has this blog running like a machine. Think of it as a trade magazine. We are a good six weeks out with our blog schedule. Unless it’s how Beyonce’s PR people royally screwed up, we’re not going to push something to make room for your five tips on search engine optimization. So don’t go running to Lindsay to beg her to run it, after I told you no.
- For the love of all things great, don’t call me out on Twitter for not responding to your email. My not responding is me being nice. If you get a response from me, either I’m interested or I’m fed up and you are the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m much nicer than some of my peers. Some will email you and shame you…which is hilarious to all of us that are BCC’d, but not hilarious to you.
P.S. Everyone wish Lindsay a very happy birthday!