Friday, February 24, 2006

"Make Me Feel Important"

A-lister Tom Foremski over at SiliconValleyWatcher (with whom I've disagreed from time to time) was kind - and clever - enough to paste my own pitch for this site, word for word, in his blog.

Hopefully ya'll agree that it's at least a half-way decent pitch in its own right! We got some ink, eh?

Anyway, Tom raised some interesting points in his commentary:
Todd, good luck but I wonder how useful this will be... A good pitch is not something that can be written down and read out of context because the best pitch is tailored to the individual and the publication. That's the secret to a good pitch :-)

Sshsh, don't tell anyone, especially all those agencies that use their most junior people to pitch journalists--their most important interface (more important than client because of churn.) But those are the clueless ones. And the clueless ones won't understand this anyway, and continue (and defend) business as usual.

I won't get into Tom's issues with "clueless" PR firms, since this site is supposed to be a cheerleading section for the PR industry. But, it's worth addressing his other thoughts: namely, the need to CUSTOMIZE each pitch, and, the (overly) fundamental role that "newbies" play in PR outreach.

For the record, as you'll see in what I sent off to Tom, there was a bit of customization in my pitch. Tom and I have had a teensy bit of correspondence in 2006, partly via email and partly via my comments on his blog. He might remember that I've disagreed with him (even uber-blogger Steve Rubel took note of that, god bless him - thanks for the traffic spike, Steve!), and I wanted to acknowledge that small patch of dialogue.

Customization does not have to take a long time or a lot of effort. It's ABOUT the effort. Journalists are people. Every person on the planet, including journalists, wears an invisible sign around their neck that reads, "Make me feel important." Nobody feels important when they are 1 of 100 people on the receiving end (via BCC) of a form letter.

Every email must be sent individually. Every email must have a snippet of personal relevance. Anything less is anonymous crud; anything less is PR spam.

... Which leads us to PR newbies who make these kind of rookie mistakes. They should be trained by their agency management how-to not piss off the media, but most of 'em at some point or another learn the hard way.

Tom makes a good point that media relationships trump client relationships: employees and accounts come and go but the agency's reputation with journalists can ensure success (or failure) for all future employees and clients. So why do agencies put newbies out front like that?

Maybe it's because PR people are people, too. Maybe they don't "feel important" in a role that, on bad days, feels like a telemarketing gig? I wonder: do some PR pitch pros aspire to management roles as much to shield their egos from further damage, as for any other reason?

In other news: some good pitches comin' out next week. Now, where is YOUR good pitch?

Send it in!

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