A Message To Non-PR Folks: We’re Not All Like This

Black Sheep

John Biggs at CrunchGear and Michael Arrington at TechCrunch both wrote in the last day about a nasty encounter they had with a public relations person (I would normally say professional, but…). I’m not naming the person here – that’s not my style – but I’m disgusted enough to link to posts where you can find their name.

The Biggs and Arrington documented a laundry list of bad practices by the culprit, some of which have also been documented previously on the bad pitch blog and other sites including the Freakonomics blog:

  • Off-topic pitches;
  • BCC’d spam pitches;
  • Relentless phone calls to people throughout publishing organizations, even while acknowledging that it’s wrong;
  • Abusive replies to people who complain about the pitches.

I’m not going to go to town on that person. Others have done that enough.

I’m directing this post to anyone who reads this site:

Not all public relations professionals are like this.

This is important. People need to know this.

We do the background work

My colleagues and I spend hours creating and refining our media lists when we begin working with clients, and we refine those lists on an ongoing basis. Occasionally we’ll land off-base; when we realize that’s happened we fix our lists.

We contact people individually

When I send email pitches, they begin with the recipient’s name. Next!

We build relationships

As far as I’m concerned, public relations is a two-way business. Our clients have their objectives; journalists have theirs. We do our jobs best when we help both sides. That means building relationships with journalists so we know what they’re after and can help them with that. It takes time and effort, and it certainly doesn’t involve spam or insults.

We target

We might approach a couple of people within a certain organization if they’ve both written about our client or their subject area. We certainly won’t leave messages for 45 people at two publications. 

Caveat: We’re human

I’m not going to pretend we’re perfect. Sometimes we screw up and contact someone who’s completely uninterested in the subject. Anyone who says they don’t is a liar. However, when that happens we apologize and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Don’t let black sheep make you think we’re all like this person. We’re not.

(Image credit: s-s via sxc.hu)

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.