The Muck Rack blog gathers ‘em, I break ‘em down.
See a three-year quantitative analysis of journalists’ complaints on Twitter here.
I’m writing this a couple days before Thanksgiving, and this morning I was filled with the positive spirit of the holiday. I thought that I would try to give every PR pro covered in this column the benefit of the doubt and to attempt to justify their side of the story in the face of journalists’ complaints.
Well, I am definitely not cut out to be a defense attorney. After looking over this month’s journalist-complaint-tweets, I did an about-face. Read on to see the incriminating evidence.
Absolutely indefensible (I’m hoping it was a poorly executed joke)
not a PR rep finding me on Hinge 💀 pic.twitter.com/DtidSEIdU2
— Olivia Messer 🌙 (@OliviaMesser) October 28, 2022
Often in my training I find myself encouraging PR pros to be more proactive and creative in how they reach out to journalists, seeking what I call “their least-crowded inbox.” Never in a million years did I think I needed to add the caveat to not pitch them over a dating app.
Maybe one of these tips was “don’t pitch media over Tinder”
A real thing that happened this week is that Tinder sent me dating tips under embargo
— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) November 17, 2022
This is a valuable tweet from Casey, who takes it for granted that people know that embargoes are only for time-sensitive news that has enough value that journalists will swallow their urgency in return for an early heads-up. Evergreen tips like this are not only not valuable enough to justify an embargo, it’s a laughable proposition.
Don’t pitch via ProtonMail or Signal
Lmao not me tweeting my secure contact details and instantly getting an unsolicited PR pitch to my Protonmail despite expressly asking y'all not to do that! I truly appreciate the great comms people I work with regularly but some of you must be stopped
— Garnet Henderson (@garnethenderson) October 31, 2022
This is helpful: When you see a journalist list their contact info and include ProtonMail or Signal, those are encrypted channels used for anonymous tips for really juicy leaks, not pitches. Sharp-eyed followers might recall that I may share some blame for this happening – a couple years ago in a webinar I highlighted a lengthy pitch process that landed the New York Times and included some outreach via Signal. Of course, there were lots of nuances that made that one instance okay, but collectively our PR community is not big on nuance when it comes to chasing top-tier placements. So with this post I correct the record: Today we learned not to pitch via secure channels and dating apps. 😊
No matter what actually happened, no defense for this
Now this: A PR rep pitched an op/ed and said it was exclusive to CNBC. We did edits and I pinged her with a pub time. She said colleagues sent the piece to another media outlet “unbeknownst” to her and it published. Wonder why my comfort level is so low when it comes to PR firms?
— Jim Pavia (@jimpavia) November 21, 2022
I get it, op-ed or byline editors often sit on pitches for weeks, leaving us twisting in the wind. But that’s not what happened here. All the communication was clear and timely. This is a straight-up fail that could have been avoided. Weirdly, a couple PR folks in the convo double down on sharing what they perceive is the other side, and Jim is not having it. (Hat tip to reader Robert Fischer for flagging this one for me, and I just noticed he has the best LinkedIn URL of all time.)
Yes, clients can be lame, but it’s our job to shield journalists from this
PR folks, want to piss a journo off?
Pitch expert for article, tell journo you'll have email responses by X date + tell me after responses are due that expert wasn't able to answer qs.
Happened 2x – just today!
Stop pitching experts if they can't deliver! #journorequest
— Karen Asp 🌱🐾✍️👟 (@karenaspwriter) November 21, 2022
Super unfair to do this to a journalist – especially on the short Thanksgiving week. Yes, it’s likely the client/expert’s fault, but you gotta give the expert a shorter deadline than the real one so you can at least give the journalist a heads-up so she can find someone else. The best pros I know would find ANOTHER expert, even a non-client, before they would ever come back to a journalist after a deadline with this kind of hand-washing “sorry” response.
This thread is the best approximation of an editor’s bloated inbox I’ve seen
PITCH ME: I'm looking for stories to run in the weeks before and after Christmas – doesn't have to be festive but that'd be a plus – I'm always very keen on as-told-tos about people with fascinating jobs that can really teach our readers about an industry or profession
— Jack Sommers (@jack_sommers) November 21, 2022
Read his helpfully precise instructions – he lays out exactly what he’s looking for. And I know this works, as members of my Inner Circle have successfully placed these kinds of stories. The final instruction is “don’t pitch on Twitter, email me.” And his email is right in his bio. And then . . . there are so many pitches I lost count after 50, and they get increasingly irrelevant as you go further down. Makes me wonder, sadly, why any editor would ever encourage pitches publicly.
Chris, you barely missed your moment
gonna start a new website where I accept and write about every single PR pitch I get, no matter how weird or ludicrous
— Christopher Gates (@ChrisWGates) November 18, 2022
Well, what do you expect?
Time now for a live look at our email inbox, where PR marketers have been sending a barrage of pitches for Black Friday & Cyber Monday pic.twitter.com/HjRG18TaiU
— WTVC NewsChannel 9 (@newschannelnine) November 21, 2022
Okay, here’s one where I can offer a defense on behalf of PR folk. If you stop doing gift/product stories on Black Friday weekend, we’ll stop pitching them to you. Okay, some people will still pitch them to you . . .
I hope Teddy has a long career at the Washington Post
Every time I write a story, I get PR pitches that say “people should buy this to solve that problem!”
I promise I’ll never write that product as an article! No need to pitch!
— Teddy Amenabar (@TeddyAmen) October 27, 2022
Or another top-tier outlet that has the luxury to look down their nose at covering products. When you look over his recent pieces you’ll immediately see he’s true to his word and never covers products, and therefore the people pitching him should know better. That said, the pitching formula he shoots down is exactly what works at pretty much every lifestyle outlet that includes health coverage, plus many local TV stations and even other daily newspapers.
Can’t be bothered to even attempt a mail merge
Love getting PR pitches that start with “Hello Radio Station”
— Robert Lang WBAL (@Reporterroblang) October 28, 2022
This article was originally published on November 23, 2022
(I’ll also send you other weekly tips)
This is in the footer of any articles and can be edited in the "Theme Options" and "Single Blog Form" tab: http://d.bbg.li/sbzf7x