Public Relations in the Age of Blogging: Good Pitch, Bad Pitch

BloomiesJust so happens that in my mailbox I have two lovely examples of how public relations professionals in different agencies are trying to work with bloggers, one that I believe is a poor example of how to pitch, and one that’s spot-on good. I have scrubbed the names clean because it’s not about the specific agency as much as the concepts here. As usual, I also have my editorial commentary like this as we go along.
Ready? Here we gooooooo….
First off, here’s the initial pitch I, a daddy blogger based in Colorado, received, about a children’s book signing event:

I am following up on a previous email and my voicemail today regarding the below (and attached) event at Bloomingdales which will be taking place tomorrow.
Do you think this is something you would be interested in covering for your blog?

Huh? Why would I care about something going on 1700 miles away, something with a 24 hour deadline? She didn’t have information “below” within the text of the email she sent me either, making me have to open an attachment to even remember what we’re talking about. I asked just that question…

Nice contact, but what makes you think I’d be interested? Did you go and read my parenting blog, or am I in a contact database you have?
With regards,
Dave Taylor

to which she responded

Hi Dave,
Thank you for getting back to me.
We read your parenting blog and thought you may be interested in covering as it is an event geared towards children.
Do you think this is something you would be interested in?

I will give her points for consistency, but if she read my parenting blog she’d know that I wouldn’t give a hoot about a promotional event in Manhattan on my weblog. In fact, I almost never write about anything that I’d get from a publicist or PR person. I do, however, occasionally review things, which could have been her angle (e.g. mailing me a copy of the book in question), but wasn’t.
Now, contrast that with this other pitch, made to someone else, not me, by Lisa at Metzger Associates:

Subject: CSG Systems CEO would like to talk to you
Dear Jeff,
I’m the Lisa Everitt perhaps best known in the Rocky business department as the person for whom Joe Nacchio autographed a can of paint in 1999. That was a bizarre era. Now I work for Metzger Associates. Did the paint make its way to the new building?
Peter Kalan, the new CEO of CSG Systems, would like to sit down with you, on the phone or in person at their office, to talk about CSG’s broader outlook beyond billing, statements and customer service support for cable and DBS companies. He’s available the week of Oct. 13, specifically Tuesday 10/14 and Friday 10/17. If those days don’t
work for you, we will wrangle calendars until something does.
As you know, CSG has been an influential company in the national and local cable scene, with customers that include Comcast, Time-Warner, Charter Communications and a raft of smaller players.
What’s new with CSG Systems…

[Dave again] What Lisa’s done here is explain who she is, remind Jeff of a previous interact they’ve had, then succinctly detail exactly what the pitch is and why it should be of interest. It takes a total of, what, 15 seconds to skim this and identify the who, what, where, when and why. That’s respectful and always appreciated.
Contrast that with the email I received from the other PR person, who had none of that useful information readily accessible in her email. The only thing she included was a rather naggy reminder that she’d already emailed me and left me voicemail (which I don’t actually appreciate, as it happens). How much better for her to have said “To remind you, I’m talking about person X from company Y doing event Z and inviting you to …”
But even there, the pitch never included “would you like to interview my client?” or “would you like a copy of the book for review?” or anything that suggested that I, as a blogger presumably sufficiently interesting to be on her short list, was anyone more than an additional one-way publicity channel.
This is, as I said in the beginning, a bad way to pitch bloggers or anyone else. A journalist wouldn’t be impressed either.
Meanwhile, you’ll note that even with this posting I still haven’t offered up much information about the event at Bloomingdale’s. Because… I just don’t have a clue about what’s going on. Still.
So you tell me. Good pitch? Bad pitch?

One comment on “Public Relations in the Age of Blogging: Good Pitch, Bad Pitch

  1. Dave:
    First, thanks for the nice comments on Lisa’s pitch. She’s a pro, and we’re glad to have her on our team.
    Not long ago, for a blog interview I did on this very subject, I came up with this (arguably cheesy) acronym for a pitch. A good pitch must be:
    Carefully Targeted
    The first pitch in your post was none of these things (well, maybe timely… for them, not for you). If PR people would take a minute to run down this list — cheesy as it may be — and make sure they cover each base, all of our jobs would be much easier, and our pitches will find receptive ears far more often.
    Thanks for the post. I hope we can all learn from your insight.
    Doyle Albee

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