Earlier this month, I observed a Twitter conversation, instigated by Boston Globe reporter Scott Kirsner’s tweet, “I love PR pitches offering to ‘introduce’ me to a company that I’ve covered a half-dozen times (at least), like @Wayfair.” And, while I applaud Wayfair PR leader Jane Carpenter’s prompt response, Kirsner’s tweet and subsequent conversations bring up some interesting points that PR firms and executives should pay attention to.
First off, it’s clear from this interaction that PR pros need to know who they’re pitching. Researching the journalist’s beat and past coverage should be first on the list. This also gives you a better opportunity to tailor the pitch (What? No blanket emails?) to individual reporters, commenting on other angles they may have taken on a similar topic, or offering a new approach to topics that interest them. This ensures your pitch is a fit and you’re not wasting your time reaching out to reporters who aren’t likely to speak to or write about your client.
Bringing up another interesting topic, Chris Marstall, creative technologist for the Boston Globe, also commented on Kirsner’s tweet, noting that it’d actually be better to hear from the company founders than a PR person.
While such high-level executives are often pressed for time, would this more direct media outreach tactic actually yield more results? Perhaps, but could you really imagine the founder of a major Fortune 500 company picking up the phone to cold call a reporter? The sheer astonishment may actually make it worthwhile! But, that’s where a targeted PR approach is more welcomed than shunned. As long as you know who you’re pitching and the topic is in line with the reporter’s coverage, PR pros are the ones to set up those conversations with company founders.
Fueling the Twitter conversation further, Kirsner issued another tweet, saying, “Would love to publish a list of PR firms that constantly send me robo-pitches, so entrepreneurs could see who not to spend $ with.”
Clearly Kirsner’s been the recipient of bad PR pitches one too many times, but, as a simple bystander to this social media conversation, I have to wonder if that means that once he gets a real, targeted pitch, would he jump all over it? Time to do your research PR pros and get to tailoring your pitches if you want to start seeing results. If you listen, reporters will tell you what they’re looking for – you just have to pay attention!