January 21, 2019

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

To Blacklist, or Not to Blacklist (and Other PR Blog Jots)

To Blacklist, or Not to Blacklist (and Other PR Blog Jots)

Blacklist Back?
Social Media Explorer
A huge percentage of the blogs in my feed reader were buzzing about the story of Gina Trapani of Lifehacker choosing to publish a wiki of PR pros who have sent bad pitches to her personal email address. Jason Falls thinks this approach is not only unfair, but doesn’t work. He suggests blacklisting reporters and bloggers who choose to “out” PR firms in this manner, noting especially that to paint an entire firm with one brush because of one person’s mistake is rather unfair. “For Gina, Chris and Matt (almost) to say, “One person … Jane Smith, the 23-year-old newbie who doesn’t know any better but I’m publicly and forever humilitating because I’m an almighty and powerful journalist/blogger person, bwahahahahahah! … from a firm sent me a pitch that didn’t catch my attention, therefore your company is forever
considered a spammer and won’t make the consideration set,” is unfair to the individual, the company, its clients, its future clients and, most importantly, their own audiences.”

Find Another Way
Marketing Roadmaps
Susan Getgood doesn’t like Trapani’s approach either, and argues that blacklists won’t work to stop bad pitches. But she admits that something needs to change, and points out that it’s not just PR that reporters and bloggers have a problem with, just PR that is so poorly conducted. She suggests finding new creative approaches. “So companies, and their agencies, need to get with the program and figure out how to reach out to their customers online in positive ways.
Reactive and proactive. How? It starts with understanding what interests your customer. Perhaps your product, but generally, campaigns built around products fall flat. You need to think beyond YOUR product and into your customer’s interests. Needs. Desires. Hopes. Aspirations.”

Reporters: Get Over Yourselves
The Buzz Bin
Also joining in on the anti-Trapani bandwagon is Geoff Livingston, who joins Falls in arguing that to blacklist an entire PR agency over the actions of one person. He points out that by choosing to “out” people rather than working with each other to constructively solve the problem, reporters are only being harmful. “When reporters or bloggers publicly act on a wholesale basis instead of asking the lead exec or account team leader to handle this issue, you never give us the opportunity to succeed. Worse, you doom some individuals to lose their job, to never get an opportunity to learn. Here’s the fact: Nasty actions like publicly outing PR professionals and firms hurt real people. Bloggers (and some reporters) often act without professional ethics or thinking about how these acts affect others. I got one thing to say back to you: Take responsibility for your words and stop harming people.”

At Least We’re Talking…
The Bad Pitch Blog
It wouldn’t be a bad pitch story without Kevin Dugan of the Bad Pitch Blog chiming in! He agrees that blacklists are ineffective, and disagrees with Jason Falls’ take that PR firms should blacklist bloggers right back. He does note that the wiki and other similar examples, if nothing else, get people talking about the need to improve blogger relations. “Over time bad pitches hurt the entire industry. This fact inspired this blog and the PR Spammers Wiki reinforces this further. Right or wrong the wiki is a powerful conversation starter. And while others are simply updating their email databases, the smart folks on Trapani’s list are already discussing the wiki with her and building a relationship instead of a grudge.”

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