Journalists: Check Thyselves – Bad Pitches are a Two-Way Street

Shotgun Spam PR Pitches

Why is a bad pitch worse when it comes from a Public Relations Pro than when it comes from an Ad Sales Representative?

I ask that question after reading another article (Social Media Makes Bad Pitches Go Viral–And Can Save PR From Itself | by Amber Mac | FastCompany) blasting the entirety of the public relations world for irrelevant and careless pitches they’ve received via email.  The strident calls for PR to reform itself are ever-present; Gawker even has a separate category for showcasing shoddy PR (PR Dummies).

I wonder how many journalists are aware of the fact that at the same time they’re bemoaning poorly-targeted spam PR pitches, many PR Pros are bemoaning poorly-targeted spam Ad Sales/Sponsorship spam pitches from ad sales reps who work for the organizations that underwrite those journalists’ activities.

I bet I get just as many careless emails, faxes and phone calls from ad sales reps at journalists’ parent companies as they get bad PR pitches.  I’ll also bet they’re just as poorly-researched and mass-produced.

Similarly, I sometimes wonder if journalists are aware that some of those ad sales reps are promising us influence over your stories because of our ad buys.  We know they’re full of it … or at least we HOPE they are.

It fascinates me that Nigerian Letter scam emails aren’t attributed to the “Financial Services Industry,” yet anyone with a Gmail account can send a shotgun blast of spam to journalists and it reinforces mistrust in the “Public Relations Industry.”  I’m at a loss to explain the double-standard.

Curiously, though Mac calls for derision to be heaped on bad PR pitches, she protects the originator of one such bad pitch from “a well-known public relations agency” by listing only the content of the message but no identifying information about who published it.

I say Mac should practice what she preaches and out them!  Drop the passive- and just be -aggressive: nothing will happen to their practices (or employment status) unless this person is made to publicly-account for their grievous misdeed.  Surely someone as thick-headed as the person who sent this pitch isn’t going to read Mac’s article and reform because they realize it refers to them (after all, they’ve already demonstrated that they don’t follow her work).

…Not to cool the righteous indignation of inbox-beleaguered journos, but it’s worth considering that perhaps the originator of the pitch was just as opposed to it as you are.  Perhaps the person who sent it is an entry-level PR person whose objection to the textbook-bad pitch was overridden by the client or a senior associate at their firm and they’ll now be made the whipping post for the error.

That sort of thing happens all the time … you know; like how sometimes editors slap an incorrect/misleading sensationalist headline on a piece a journalist has carefully-crafted to respect the nuance in the story?

We have more in common than we have apart.  Can’t we all try to have some empathy for each other?

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