May 11 2008
You keep complaining, you keep asking us to stop. We do our best to listen, but some of us make mistakes. Now you have taken to outing PR firms and blacklisting their entire email address books via wiki (image by Sam Foster).
This is your right. And unfortunately, because of the very nature of our business most PR firms have to take it and in some cases apologize. Writers of any nature have the power. We need you more than you need us.
But this doesn’t make you right. In fact, you are in the wrong:
1) You are carpet bombing entire PR firms because of the error/mistake of one PR person.
2) The very nature of email pitches is so subjective that there are now shades of spam.
3) Even when a blogger/journalist states their preferred method, they are often thorny and downright nasty when you contact them in stated manner.
4) By shutting off sources wholesale, you are limiting your ability to deliver valid information to the readers you serve.
5) Because each person is unique, each blogger/journalist’s preferences can be so particular there is no way all of you will be satisfied.
6) These situations come down to relationships versus cold contacts. If we don’t have them, you won’t listen. But there needs to be a starting point. Email may not be the best way, but are phone calls? Snail mail? Each relationship begins somewhere.
I don’t feel bad for reporters and A-List bloggers who get this kind of attention. It’s part of the job and/or results of tremendous success. Get over it. With the good comes the bad. I’ve been a reporter in the past and got the daylights spammed out of my inbox, and to some extent get the same kind of pitches because of this blog and my book. That’s what the delete button is for… And for the record, PR is much harder than journalism or blogging.
Livingston Communications was not on the Trapani list, nor the Chris Anderson list. But we’ve had our own mistakes. We address them and do better. Training? Yes, we invest. Best practices? Yes, we discuss them and implement them… Weekly! Pay attention to specific requests for how to contact individuals? Yes, we listen (image by traveljunkieoz).
Is Stowe Boyd’s call for open PR a good solution? I don’t think so. The very nature of clients and competitive business will prevent this. But because of his request, when my firm wants to pitch him we’ll do it openly on Twitter.
Stowe also hit the nail on the head when he noted clients or companies as being the primary cause of these issues. Heat from clients is the name of the game. Good PR pros push back, fulfilling a role as an ombudsman. But corporate money often does the talking. Some firms won’t cross the line, others will.
How Outing Impacts People
Errors come to my attention because someone has the courtesy to contact me. That’s what executives are supposed to do: Address these problems.
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.
Shocked? A PR person talking back like that? I’m just saying what almost all of us feel. Seriously, holster your guns, cowboys and cowgirls.
And for the record, sometimes nasty reporters/bloggers like you end up getting blackballed. Just something to keep in mind, but you’ll never read this will you? Because in your opinion, PR isn’t worth listening to… You know better.
For another excellent post in the same vein, read Jason Falls “Why PR Folks Should Blacklist Bloggers.”