PR spamming doesn't create results

I am in a unique position within the PR profession, as I stand on both sides of the fence. I am both a PR director and a technology journalist. I send pitches and receive them. Access to the pressroom has given me invaluable insight into how the PR profession is perceived - what we do well, and, more importantly, where we are failing. Translating this feedback into my daily role, I strive to prepare pitches that are not only valuable to my internal clients, but are timely and relevant to the various publications

I am in a unique position within the PR profession, as I stand on both sides of the fence. I am both a PR director and a technology journalist. I send pitches and receive them. Access to the pressroom has given me invaluable insight into how the PR profession is perceived - what we do well, and, more importantly, where we are failing. Translating this feedback into my daily role, I strive to prepare pitches that are not only valuable to my internal clients, but are timely and relevant to the various publications.

Clients are a tricky breed, and it is always a challenge trying to align their expectations with reality. PR firms often times fall into the trap of pitching a client's message repeatedly, regardless of whether it fits the journalist's beat or editorial calendar. These pitches usually land in the virtual trash, along with the firm's (and client's) credibility. If you have e-mailed a press release to a whole media list, or used the list for months, then you are guilty of spamming. Spamming rarely equals front-page coverage.

The more targeted a pitch, the better chance it has of being picked up by writers. Better results come from forging real relationships with those writers - a constant flow of solid ideas, statistics, and information that maps to their areas of interest and coverage.

An example of PR spam in action is the recent RSA Conference in San Francisco. Journalist's inboxes were packed with numerous unsolicited pitches. The week's outreach included multiple e-mails, aggressive voicemails, and a lack of knowledge about interests. Mass e-mailing does clients a disservice. PR firms are paid well for one thing - results. Entrusted with the client's brand, reputation, and expectations, firms have a duty to uphold it all with the highest integrity. Put yourself in your client's shoes. Would the CEO of a Fortune 100 company send 300 indiscriminate invites for taquitos and martinis?

Using the following as guiding principles, PR practitioners should enjoy many years of great relationships, notable coverage, and very happy clientele:

Know your writers, and know their readers. Carefully personalize your pitches.

Understand the company/product/issues you are pitching, because you only get one chance to capture the writer's attention.

Educate yourself about the product and the issues it solves.

Always follow through. This is the most overlooked, and yet most important, quality in PR.

Integrity before invoicing. The client's needs matter, but your reputation matters more. If you work for a firm that puts profit over quality, it might be time to find another gig.

Melisa LaBancz-Bleasdale is director of PR at Palamida. She blogs at www.palamida.com/blog.

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