Research, Research, Research

November 7, 2007 at 1:16 am 3 comments

As a public relations practitioner, being able to do effective research is a key element of your job. You have to get to know your client inside and out. How else can you do that but research?

You have to research your client’s industry, its audiences, its competitors and key players. But it seems many PR practitioners are failing to research one important thing: the media outlets and reporters they pitch to and it’s becoming a problem. I don’t know if the cause is a lack of training and time or just plain laziness. Unfortunately, I think it has more to do with the latter.

E-mail has made it much easier and cost effective for PR people to send pitches and news releases to media outlets. Instead of using the efficiency of e-mail to do the job better, some practitioners are using it to mass pitch the media without putting any thought into what would interest a particular outlet. And the media is getting tired of it.

While there are plenty of PR practitioners who don’t do this, the ones who do have been doing it for awhile. The Bad Pitch Blog , which was started in response to this problem, has been going strong for almost two years now.

But last week, Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, took it a step further. He posted the e-mails of all the PR people who sent him bad pitches in one month. It’s a long list, and it includes people from some well-respected PR agencies. Now, any editor or reporter can add those names to his or her blocked list.

The post caused a lot of controversy. Some people said he went too far. Maybe. But at the same time, PR people needed a wake-up call. Mass pitching is a bad thing, and we as PR people need to do the job we set out to do, which is get our client in the news. You can’t do that if your e-mail address has been blocked by every media outlet.  

How can you keep this from happening to you?

  • Research and get to know the reporters and publications vital to your client.
  • Read, watch or listen to the media outlet you want to pitch to so you can learn what kinds of stories it covers.
  • Know what beats the reporters cover, know their deadlines and how they like to be pitched.
  • Know the media outlet’s audiences, style and circulation.
  • Respect the reporter and they will respect you.

So, as students who will soon be moving into the real world, remember this incident. Remember your role, and most important, remember to do your research.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Job Hunting Putting it all Together

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. prisgrowth  |  November 7, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    Hey Abbey,

    It’s very important to address the issue of media relations, especially for students entering into internships and their first jobs. Thank you for doing so. I was recently asked to send a couple of media advisories out about events being held by Goodyear. This was out of the ordinary for me as I usually deal solely with internal communications. I had know idea what to do, or how to approach the reporters I had chosen to contact. As a result, I made the huge mistake of sending the same cold-cut message to everyone. After a week of not receiving a single response, I realized I had to take a new approach. I narrowed down my contact list and sent several personalized e-mails to key reporters. I even made a few phone calls. This approach was much more successful. Eric Mansfield from WKYC was the first to respond about an FSAE track event hosted by Goodyear in Akron. Later I found out that an <article had been featured in the Akron Beacon Journal. It was a great lesson to learn. No matter what kind of PR you’re in or what your profession is, someone may ask you to get in touch with the media. Everyone should learn how to do that. You’ve provided some great tips.

  • 2. Kelli Matthews  |  November 8, 2007 at 3:44 am

    Abby, great points and good advice. Thanks for the link, too.

  • 3. Noah  |  November 11, 2007 at 7:26 am


    Priscilla makes a great point about the need to personalize approach (the pitch). If you’d like to continue the conversation, there is a Nov. 5, post, “Of Publicity and Bloggers,” that touches on the subject (feel free to drop by).

    I concur with Kelli that you offer good advice for those new to the profession. Kudos!


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