Showing posts with label pitch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pitch. Show all posts

Friday, October 5

Listening To Publishers: PR Practitioners

It doesn't happen often, but sometimes it does. A public relations firm starts filling the inbox with random pitches, pictures, and press releases. It's not so bad because some of them are close to what you publish. It's not so bad until they start sending the follow-up emails. So you delete some, unread.

Then you delete a few more. And then you delete a few more. It's nothing personal, but you have 20-some emails you do want to read and that deserve a response — public relations professionals who have taken the time to get to know what you publish. But the sheer volume from one gets in the way.

Sure, you want to look at them. There is always that little part of you that wonders if you are passing up on something that fits. You know other publishers and bloggers on the blind bulk list feel the same way because the view counts on the landing pages always have more than two people. So maybe they don't.

Then one day it happens. You find your finger hovering over the spam button. Something makes you hesitate. You never signed on to be that publisher. You want to give this public relations firm a chance.

So you send an email...

Hey [protected],

We really appreciate all the pitches you send over for consideration and I am sure we will cover some of the artists you represent sooner or later. However, I have to ask. Is there any way we can stay on your pitch list but be taken off your blind follow-up list?

All the best, 

And then they respond...

Follow up is key! I'm just trying to figure out if you're going to post or not! We'd love to work with your blog on syndicating our content, and we can affiliate as well and syndicate yours as well!

I already know how this might have turned out with Jennifer Lawson. I've already covered the bit by Chris Anderson. I even shared a pitch gone bad story before, although it was a bit more tempered.

I did kick around ideas for a follow-up response with a few colleagues. It would have easily made for an interesting if not insensitive post with high marks in entertainment value, especially because I just recently reviewed a band that insisted their public relations firm "fix or pull" an email because I made the mistake of, egad, quoting the front man who later regretted what he said after his band wasn't happy.

There is something to be said about the scorched earth approach, but I didn't start another publication for that reason. No, I think (but could always change my mind) I'll say nothing whatsoever and let those pitches fall into the void. Can you imagine? How many heavily touted pitch lists are sent nowhere with pride?

If you work in public relations, it might make you wonder about tactics too. Lawson and Anderson (and myself on occasion) did you a favor to improve your practice whether you realize it or not. It's much easier, although not as entertaining, to say nothing whatsoever. Follow up is the key, indeed.

Friday, September 16

Influencing Editors: Public Relations

Years ago, as publisher of a hospitality trade publication (and earlier as a staff writer for several others), we were mildly amused by the volume of errant pitches and press releases. Public relations professionals would send anything.

Well, almost anything. News and relevant content were obviously in short supply. We didn't see much.

Nowadays, seven years later, we have a different kind of publication. I still consider it a side project as an online venture, even if the subscription base eclipsed the one we sold years ago. (Mostly, I only call it a side project because it's too much fun.) And public relations professionals still send almost anything. 

Well, not all of them. Some public relations professionals are different from others. Let's see how. 

A tale of two public relations professionals and their pitches. 

Once upon a time, there were two public relations firms: Jack Sprat and Joan. And as you might have guessed, Jack Sprat, much like his namesake, could eat no fat. But Joan, like his wife, could eat no lean. 

That made for a curiously different public relations practice, particularly in the area of pitches. For every one release Jack Sprat sent out, Joan would send 10. And while her clients thought that was impressive effort, something very different was happening under the table. 

All the Sprat pitches received coverage. But all the Joan pitches received none, except one. And that one, if everybody is being honest, was a fluke. Joan couldn't understand it. And finally she could not stand it. 

"How is it, Jack, that I do ten times the work and come up quite dry," she scolded. "But you, oh so lazy, come out quite well."

"My dear Joan, you might see it if you read," laughed Sprat with a shrug. "I never send fat, just the meat and some bones."

The meat and some bones will always do better than everything. 

To be clear, the first public relations firm sent three pitches. Of the three bands they pitched, one didn't fit. But the public relations firm knew it and included some information about the band's nonprofit affiliation. We do feature causes, and it was a good one that tied in with their music. We'll cover it soon.

On the other hand, the second public relations firm sends us pitches on everyone they represent, not only new album information but remixes and coverage by other pubs. But most fall so far away from our musical leanings that we have to laugh. Don't get me wrong. I don't really mind. Sometimes the pitches are entertaining, even if it's all too clear they don't know who we write about.

Over time, you have to wonder how an editor or publisher might develop an impression of the firm. While I don't mind the 10-1 pitch difference, it doesn't earn much respect. Neither did asking us to exchange a few facts for fluff the one time we did cover one of their clients. 

Conversely, the first public relations firm even gave us a head's up when they knew one of their bands  would avoid one topic. We asked anyway and the band didn't bite, but no one was worse for the wear.

But the main point is much simpler. Lean makes a publisher look forward to more. But even funny fat and gristle begin to convince them that emails from that sender can wait. Think about it.

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