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PR Pitches: You’re (Probably) Doin’ Them Wrong


I get many PR pitches a day. Unfortunately, much of what I see isn’t good.

Before I get into this, I must tell you that there are some great PR folks out there that I’ve worked with, both in-house and at agencies. And although I work with folks who have worked for traditional media, I’ve never been part of those ranks. I’ve always worked on the digital side (both here on my blog for the last 5+ years and at ERE). My perspective is truly based on the hundreds of press releases I’ve received and the many dozens of conversations and discussions that have stemmed from them in a digital-only environment.

I’m going to be talking a week from today (Thursday, December 8th) about how to not suck at doing PR in this new media world with my friends at HRmarketer. And if you’re in PR, especially in the HR space, you should sign up and be there (or sign up to grab the recording at a later date).

I won’t give away all that we’ll be talking about but I wanted to give you a taste of what I wanted to cover too.

There are two types of PR folks in this world:

  1. When I need you, I’ll let you know — I don’t know these guys names. Sometimes they’ll pop-up every couple of weeks and then not be heard from for months. It’s transactional. They have a story, I’m on a list in their database and they are going to blast it out and hope it works.
  2. I want to build something together — I’ve had several PR people reach out to me before they had a story, figured out what I liked and what I didn’t like and just send me stuff that would be interesting. I’d much rather have a 15 minute phone call and let them know what I’m interested in than getting dripped on for nine months with the same lame stories.

The part that nobody will tell you is that the first example can work. I can tell you I’ve definitely run a story based on information from a guy or gal I didn’t know from Adam (or Eve?) the day before. The fact is, interesting angles and stories usually win out, even if the method is flawed.

So what’s the point then? Why not just build a distribution list and just blast it?

Because, I expect a person behind the switch. When I take time out of my day, respond to a release with a “No thanks” and give a brief explanation why, I hope that you won’t send me a similar blast a week later asking me if I had time to look over the press release you sent me (or sending me dozens of similar pitches).

Knowing the person behind the message is a way to guarantee the message gets read. If I know there’s a good PR person behind the message, I will open it, read through and give them the benefit of the doubt, even if they send me the occasional irrelevant piece. And if I know the person behind the message, I am more willing to forward on to a colleague that may be looking for something.

I am looking forward to sharing more media relations (from my side of the fence) next week (so do sign up). It’s a fun topic that I enjoy getting a little fired up about.

By Lance Haun

Strategy for The Starr Conspiracy. Former HR pro. Portland guy (Go Blazers!) and WSU alum (Go Cougs!). I get to write about what I want here.

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