WSJ columnist Jeremy Wagstaff gives some good advice for PR pros on pitching bloggers:
Being a PR person pitching a blogger:
- Pitches should never be made by phone without an email requesting a chat first. Phone calls are no longer as acceptable as they were; they are now as intrusive as a foot in the door.
- PR people should find out if their mark has a blog, and if so, read it. For background, and to make sure the person is not on holiday or in the middle of a gender-change. It’s good to include some reference in the pitch to the fact that the blog has been read but there’s really no need to be smarmy. (“I’m a huge fan of your blog since before you started writing it and your post about how spammers are really annoying was just so spot on I had it tatooed in its entirety on my children’s foreheads.”)
- A PR/journalist relationship can be as close as lips and teeth, but teeth can bite, and should. (The teeth is the journalist. Please keep up.) A journalist will always, if not today then at some point in the future, write something the PR person doesn’t like about their client, and the PR person needs to be ready for that. So should the journalist. The two can be best buddies, but I find that makes it harder to do one’s job, and be seen to be doing one’s job as a journalist al dente. So I keep my personal distance. That’s just me. I think it was the BBC’s John Simpson who quoted someone as saying that people should always feel a journalist at the table was a menacing presence. As a journalist you’re not there for the people you’re dining with, you’re there for your readers/viewers.
- If that’s true of journalists, then I can’t see any reason why it shouldn’t also be true of anyone being pitched. The pitchee — whether blogger, opinion shaper, or journalist — represents an opportunity for PR to get their word out. So anyone accepting pitches should have teeth. And be prepared to use them.
- If you have teeth, you can’t expect — indeed, you wouldn’t want — PR to take your personal life into account. They can be nice about it, but it shouldn’t affect their pitch, and whether they’re nice about it or not, it shouldn’t affect your likelihood to bite. After all, you’re both supposedly on office time, and office rules apply. It doesn’t mean not sharing your personal life, but it means either being ready to have people say “sorry to hear about your cat’s demise, would you be interested in reviewing our new kitty litter?” or leaving out those parts of your life from your blog that may muddy this relationship.
(Found via Forward Blog.)