November 20, 2017

Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

The Final Word on Scoble and Pitching

The Final Word on Scoble and Pitching

Ok. When I said that I was done with the Scobelizer, I meant it.

As part of this debate that resembled more of an e-version of a steel cage match, I challenged Mr. Scoble’s assertions that “PR sucks” and pitches are “crappy” or “lame.” I did so on my own blog (multiple times) as well as in this space.

Game On, Garth

On John Aravosis’ blog, he took me on, but when I commented back, one of his (anonymous) commenters said:

  • “PR and marketing is an evil scourge on humanity.”
  • “Matter of fact, to quote Bill Hicks, why don’t all of you PR and marketing f**kers do the rest of humanity a favor: just go out and blow your brains out.”

Not exactly intelligent discourse, but this is reflective of the emotions that surround this issue. And John, thanks for those 1,226 referrals from your blog to mine.

Amen, Brother Shel

Shel Holtz, whom I respect enormously as one of the “godfathers” of social media, chimed in. Among the points that Shel had included the following:

  • “Given your intractable position repeated in multiple places, Robert, I wonder if you’d be willing to comment on the findings of the 2009 PRWeek/PR Newswire media survey that found that 80% of journalists prefer to receive pitches by email. Journalists maintain this preference even though these pitches generate a paltry number of actual stories because they are so often off-target. It’s hard to dismiss rock-solid evidence, isn’t it?”

Scoble showed a combination of snarkiness and restraint by stating, in a private post to PR practitioners (why was it “private?” To quote Scoble: “…Why is this a private note? Well, my readers don’t care so I wanted to let them know they can just skip this one.”):

  • “Instead of cleaning up their industry and getting rid of all the people who send me bad pitches, the industry has gone on attack. Shel Holtz has one of the kinder versions of this attack.” (Writer’s note: read Shel’s post – it’s full of irrefutable statistics and tell me if it is an “attack.”)
  • “I was wrong, though, to paint every PR person with the ‘PR sucks’ brush. There are good ones. I do read every PR pitch, even the crappy ones. Of course I was being obstinate. This is blowback because I get so many crappy pitches for so many things I don’t care about.”

Ok. So while still saying that we are sometimes “crappy,” I think that Mr. Scoble has come to realize what I have been trying to say all along, and that is not all PR sucks, only bad PR. Not all pitches suck, only bad pitches.

Rodney King Was Right: Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I have written about this extensively (for regular readers, you know that this topic really gets me going), but sure, those who pitch ANY media influencers should have some basic “skillz.” But what of the blogger “A-listers?” Here are my two cents for those pitching, beyond the advice that I have already given.

  1. Mr. Scoble: if you hate getting bad pitches and it irritates you, use your considerable influence and following to create and promote an email address: “scoble_pitches@scobelizer.com.” Don’t even READ anything that does not come to that inbox. That way, you’ll have far fewer pitched-induced tantrums.
  2. Other people who are driven mad by this: use the Jason Falls example. I consider Jason a thought-leader and someone who usually has the answer before most of us have come up with the question. He has a remarkable component to his Social Media Explorer Blog” — a tab at the top called “How to Pitch SME.” Jason lays out the rules of the road for a successful pitch in six simple steps. Don’t follow these and assume that you are dead in the water. Among the solid advice:
  • It better be relevant to social media, public relations, marketing or advertising. We don’t review gadgets. We do accept free ones that we’ll keep and never write about, though, if you’re feeling generous.
  • It should be brief. I like Stowe Boyd’s suggestion of the Twit Pitch — 140 characters or less done via Twitter.
  • Do NOT send me a press release. That should come as a follow up to a pitch or as a link in the pitch. If you send a release, you’ve already violated rule No. 2.
  • If you get a no thank you, don’t pitch me again on the same thing.

Jason’s suggestions are simple, to the point, and guidelines that could a) help Mr. Scoble get over his anger management problem, and b) help educate those in the public relations industry who pitch.

Mark Story is a part-time, adjunct professor at Georgetown University, Director of New Media at the SEC in Washington, D.C and writes the “Intersection of Online and Offline” blog. Coincidentally, he also has a part-time anger management problem. Prior to the government, Mark worked for 15 years in some of the largest online public relations shops in the world. Tweet him at mstory123.

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