That’s PR malpractice

I was on the phone with a longtime coaching client, we’ll call her “Janie,” who was telling me about this mess that she was called in to clean up.

A potential client balked at her rates and then found someone else who was cheaper. Turns out the “someone else” was a freelance writer who had never pitched before. After that failed, the client came back to Janie and agreed to her higher rate.

Janie’s voice started to rise as she got to this part in the story. Come to find out, the freelancer had borrowed access to a media database, pulled a list of about 100 reporters, and sent them all the same generic email. The results?

Nothing. Not a single inquiry.

“That’s PR malpractice!” Janie exclaimed.

She was worried the errant pitch had poisoned the well for the client that she had now agreed to represent. She also expressed that bad practices like that stain all other PR professionals.

I used to share that belief, but I don’t anymore. Truth bomb:

In the face of all the horribly irrelevant pitches and ignorantly generic email blasts, all you have to do to stand out is not be that bad!

By no means am I reveling in less-effective work. I pity the journalists (and employers/clients) who must deal with it. And I’m not endorsing mediocrity.

I’m simply saying that we’ve got enough to worry about in this world today – one thing we can let go of is how badly other people are pitching the media.

I told Janie that those journalists are way too busy to remember something they blew off as soon as it entered their inbox. She could send a proper pitch without acknowledging the first, and without stressing about the previous poor effort.

Here are a couple proof points:

  • During an Inner Circle training event, a USA Today reporter shared a pitch she really liked – she ended up writing a long feature about it. As she was working on the story, she realized that this was the second time she had gotten pitched on that company. She went back into her inbox and found that the first (failed) pitch was for the exact same client, and was even from the same PR agency! It was just from a different employee, one who took the time to make it relevant to her.
  • I once collaborated with a large DC-based agency team to support a big event in my area. On the conference call, they told me not to worry about it, they were pitching our local media. Reality translation: A junior staffer sent the same generic pitch to a list pulled from a database, 80 percent of whom didn’t even work at those outlets anymore. They got zero commitments to attend the event. So I just called my contacts – people I knew would actually care. And all but one of them ended up attending and covering the event. (Zero acknowledgement from the agency, of course, but the point of this email is to let that stuff go.)

The truth is, that pitch that Janie called “PR malpractice” is unfortunately closer to “PR status quo.” I used to believe we could band together and change the entire industry so that stuff didn’t happen anymore.

Now I don’t worry about what strangers are doing. Instead I focus my efforts where I have the most influence. And that is helping you get more than your share of media coverage, simply because you’re so good at media relations.

Two free resources you can tap right now:

This article was originally published on January 12, 2022

Get Michael’s 5 Winning Subject-Line Formulas and best PR tips each week free!

Articles Right Form

This is the articles sidebar opt-in form and can be accessed under “Appearance” – “Widgets” – “Articles Sidebar”

Would you like to get the next article as soon as it goes live?

(I’ll also send you other weekly tips)

'Count Me In' article subfooter optin

This is in the footer of any articles and can be edited in the "Theme Options" and "Single Blog Form" tab: