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August 09, 2006

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» Pitching Tips: Reaching Journalists through Blogs from Communications Overtones
Many journalists have started to blog. Ten to one, your local paper has someone on staff that authors a blog, either through official channels or personally. For instance, in San Antonio, the Express News has a special blog section that lists more th... [Read More]

» Something is very wrong in PR land part two: PR's dirty little secret from Web Ink Now
I was interrupted by a phone call from a PR agency staffer last week. Here is what I remember him saying. (There was a lot of gobbledygook in his pitch that I didn't understand.): PR Agency staffer: "Hello, I'm calling [Read More]

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Amanda Chapel

You know the adage, "if you want to locate all the sinners, go to church?" Well, if you want to find people with absolutely no sense of empathy whatsoever, look to PR.

Regards,

- Amanda Chapel

Owen Lystrup

So the traditional news release is not working.

This is something I've heard from a number of other places.

What about--in your opinion--editorial calendar tracking and e-mail correspondence?

For instance, if I were to look on an editorial calendar and see a journalist who writes regularly on educational technology is going to be writing a story soon that's right up my company's alley, would sending him a quick e-mail with a link work any better?

Or is it just about the same? (In this case we'll say that journalist does not have a blog).

David Meerman Scott

Owen,

I think the traditional release that is blasted to PR people is not working. But a news release that is well written will be picked up by search engines and will be seen by journalists (and buyers) who are looking.

Following editorial calendars still works. One issue is sometimes you don't know which reporter is writing the story (you just see that the publication has a calendar). If you do know, I suggest a pitch that is very personal, that has a killer sublject line (so it is opened), that highlights something the reporter wrote before (so you show that you know them) and that says why your client would be good for the story.

And remember, the reason your client would be good for the story is usually NOT because of your client's widget. Rather it is about how your client solve problems for their customers.

David

Aly

David,

Thank you for taking the time to keep us PR folks informed on what's working and what isn't. It seems that sure-fire methods that worked as recently as last week don't work today and we always appreciate being kept up to speed on what's making an impact.

I especially appreciate your comment about responding to stories. I understand that it's important to know what they're writing about to make sure this person would actually even be interested.

I have always tried to comment on a writer's most recent story when pitching them something I think would be of interest to their readers. I get a response about a quarter of the time.

My thought has always been that writers get thousands of these comments to their stories as they get thousands of pitches a day. But from your blog post here it seems that's not the case.

I'd like to ask you, what are you looking for in a reponse to an article that would make you want to engage in conversation with that person?

Thanks,

Aly

David Meerman Scott

Hi Aly,

I get very few letters based on what I've written (several a month is all). But I get zillions of things, mostly broadcast email, from PR people asking me for something. I'm sure that a Wall Street Journal reporter gets a lot of mail about their stories than I do, but nowhere near as much as you might think. All reporters wantr feedback - both positive and negative. And all reporters hate the impersonal nonsense that we all get.

Try building a relationship with a reporter first without pitching your client. Praise a story or point out holes in it. The reporter will remember.

How about this one -- suggest an interesting story angle or analogy that has nothing to do with any of your clients. It you're a tech PR guy emailing a tech reporter, go way out in left field with something like: "Hey, have you thought about how similar such-and-such technology is to a Madonna Concert? Your story remind me of thi -and-that You should talk to Madonna's tour manager." (Something so far away from what you're pitching to be obvious that you're just doing it as a favor).

Then once you have a relationship built, try a pitch but make it interesting and relevant to that reporter. You should also make it clear that the pitch is just for them. "I thought of you this morning and that story you wrote a few months ago on..."

I got an email last week that opened:
"Dear %firstame%"
that's what sucks about PR. It's so cold and impersonal that many times firms can't even make the email blast software work correctly.

David

Owen Lystrup

David,

Thanks much for your advice. It's great stuff.

I think too many PR people are doing a little too much talking here in the big bad blogosphere, and not enough listening.

Dan Greenfield

I have been sufficiently chastened. You make a great point about reading a reporters's blog as a way to build a relationship and to make pitches more relevant. I spend a great deal of time thinking about how to match the story to the reporter, but not enough time thinking about his or her online presence.

At college, we learned to read our professors' books before writing papers. The same rule should apply to PR professionals.

David Meerman Scott

Well said Dan. And guess what? I am checking out your blog right now to find out who you are. Would I have done that if you sent me a release? Heck no.
David

Jordan

Again, I find myself nodding my head vertically while reading through one of your posts, David.

As a guy who both blogs and pitches (and used to do the "old" media thing too), I can say that traditional media want the same thing that bloggers want: Recognition (a little flattery or especially genuine interest in past items goes a long way), and relevance and value in the content of the pitch.

Take some time to read, leave a comment and start a proper relationship with the RIGHT author, and you'll have way better success.

Kami Huyse

David; As a blogger, I know how frustrating it can be to post something and hear the crickets chirp. It makes perfect sense to read the people that you work with, and that includes reporters. I have long kept a delicious list that I read from time to time and certainly before I want to pitch. But as of this post, I am adding my favorite journalists that blog to a folder in my Sage reader. I will be sure to keep up that way.

Joni Solis

Dear David,

I just found your wonderful blog, I don't even know how, because I had so many sites open. I click on interesting things and let the page load while I read another page.

>how your client solve problems for their customers

This should be the main issue talked and written about in all copy - sales copy and PR.

Keep reminding us of that - hopefully it will start to sink in.

The golden rule of doing onto others as you would have them do unto you, is so important to keep in mind at all times.

When we focus on helping others we automatically help ourselves.

I just put your blog feed into my BlogRovR account.

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