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Quit Your Pitchin'

I read a tweet from a journalist/blogger yesterday who advised a budding public relations rookie not to pitch. In his words, "Pitch=Spam". Interesting take, right? So, how does this guy get his news anyway? I was quick to chime-in to the newbie and clarify, "progressive journalists understand relationships" and legitimate pitches will be heard.

This type of knee-jerk negativity is often warranted and stems from the onslaught of spammy emails, doggish press releases and weak pitches that a majority of journalists are inundated with. The talented ones know how to handle news gathering- they seek out information from credible sources that they trust. Sometimes that's a good PR contact, sometimes it's even a wire service filtered by topic, although this can often be cluttery as well. Newer services like Newsvetter offer media members peace of mind from pitches. They evaluate news content before it's delivered. From the site: "The best way to build relationships with the news media is to consistently send them high quality information. Newsvetter is designed to help you do this."

As we open up more social media doors with our fellow PR pros and media members, it becomes increasingly apparent that it's going to continue to be about relationships. I don't blame the blogger who offered up his advice, I blame those bad experiences that must have skewed his view of public relations and lessened his reliance on the word of mouth pitch.

Diversify The Pitch
For that self proclaimed newbie, I offer you this bit of advice. Don't abandon the pitch, engage and understand your media contact as frequently as possible and most importantly, learn to be flexible. Today, it takes more than a snappy headline to grab the eyeballs of onlooking journalists. Despite the mathematics offered up by the experts in this recent New York Times article I referenced in last week's post, How Social Media PR Wins Journalists, keywords should not be the primary tactic for catching attention. Instead, diversify your options for delivery and make sure what you're serving up matches what your media is looking for. Don't waste your time throwing blind release out there and hoping for a hit, take the time to know four or five key writers in that space and ensure they get what they need - from digital assets like video and high-res images, to quotes, samples, etc., Try building a Social Media Release and deliver a link with a quick, concise pitch relevant to your audience. And most importantly, be brutally honest. Your media contacts will appreciate (and remember) it and your brand or client will be better served by it.

Roll Reversal: When The Brand Gets Spam
The flip side though will come soon enough (listen up Anti-Spam Bloggers). As an in-house marketer I know the real "spam" comes from those same publications, websites and yes, blogs. If bloggers expect to make a living, they will need to listen to the brands that are pitching them, just as the brands are expected to listen to their Ad Sales Rep "pitch" them on why they should spend money on their website. You see, traditional journalists haven't vocalized their issues with PR spam, because they've been smart enough to know where the bread comes from. Many bloggers who are blacklisting PR people and shunning pitches have never had to deal with these issues. Truth is, in my experience the dirtiest tricks come from Ad reps, not PR reps.

So the moral is, don't quit your pitchin'. Keep in mind there's always going to be a few snake oil salesman out there pitching their wares like third-hand used cars. For the rest of us, this is the time to change our approach and look for more innovative ways to serve journalists and bloggers both. To the anti-pitch bloggers and journalists, be warned! One of these days we might not be pitching you -we'll be pitching consumers directly instead.

Original post on PitchEngine