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The Art of Pitching

Startup Exec Accidentally Proves the Value of Tech PR

There’s some “debate” — if you can call it that — within the tech community as to whether PR is a necessary evil or a crucial tool in taking startups from obscurity to world domination. Some recent examples: an Uber GM got attention for claiming that such services are “a waste of money” and an anonymous “tech exec” told an NYT reporter that he only hates journalists a little bit more than he hates his own PR team.

Last week, however, technologist Robert Adams of the “sharing without an internet footprint” network Brax.me gave us the definitive case study in the Why Startups DEFINITELY Need PR file by sending his own mass pitch to almost every major tech journalist on the planet.

Much of that “frenzy” involved mocking him.

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Poynter Calls Out the ‘Worst Pitches Ever’

email bad PR pitches

In case you want to remind yourself that many pitches are not successful, here’s a story via Poynter — actually, a public query — about the worst pitches certain journalists have received. Sad to say, it’s hilarious (and Mr. Senor Flack and Ms. Anonymous PR Girl, we’re thinking of you two sharing this cacophonous mess).

How so? This post will scream #PRFail!

So why point these bad pitches out? Just scroll through our #5Things and you will see the countless times we offer the PRNewserverse tip, tools, and even tricks on how to best represent this glorious industry. (Yes, for real.)

That said, we must do better — because once our journo friends have sworn us off for good, there is no reversing that mess. They are gone and you only have green flacks pitching and “oh so senior” mentors forgetting to do that part of their job to blame.

You’ll see what we mean after the jump…

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5 Things Journalists Know About PR People That May Surprise You

journalismConsidering how long the PR discipline has been around, it is still amazing to note the lack of understanding between flacks and hacks.

Unfortunately, there are no ride-alongs in a media truck PR students can take because of liability reasons. Likewise, no budding reporters can hang around and witness the inner workings of a PR agency to relieve boredom. That knowledge chasm serves as proof that the two industries should know more about one another. But how?

Your friends at PRNewser are doing our part to help both industries hold hands and sing. First, we discussed ‘5 types of reporters (and how to work with them).’ Then, we flipped the script and shared ‘5 types of PR people (and how to work with them).’

For this week’s #5Things: we offer 5 things journalists know about PR people that could surprise youRead more

5 Surefire Ways to Get a Reporter’s Attention

pay attention

One of the silver bullets in any flack’s arsenal is the art of getting or earning someone’s attention. After all, it is what we all go angling for on a daily basis. From writing a pitch to commenting on a tweet, we hope that something we do tells our media colleagues, “Hey, look at me!”

Once you get the reporter’s attention, you are halfway to the promised land of a mention, a return phone call an email reply or a Twitter response. Whatever correspondence you receive, the ensuing smiles are all there because of the work you did. But how effective are you at earning that attention in the first place?

If you want to be better at that subtle tactic, this week’s ‘5 Things‘ is for you: Here are 5 surefire ways to get a reporter’s attention.

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5 Ways to Ensure That the Phone Pitch Doesn’t Die

keep-calm-and-don-t-call-meThanks to the Internet making things more accessible with email and social media, the phone is pretty much a paperweight for your client’s folders. And I get it: You don’t have to hear the gruff and grizzle of a reporter on the other end of the line telling you to piss off, or some such.

That said, the phone call is still one of the most important tools in any flack’s arsenal. For anything from a follow-up to a lunch appointment, never underestimate the power of speaking to someone on the phone.

Now, some PR professionals are making it very easy for our favorite journalists to never pick up a phone call again. Ever. Why? Here are 5 phone practices we can use to ensure that the phone pitch doesn’t vanish.

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News Producers to PR Professionals: ‘Live Up to That Name Please!’

Public-Relations-Help-Photo-Lucy-from-Charlie-Brown

Some of us aren’t crazy about the moniker “flacks.” Even more are adverse to being called “spin doctors.” The term many embrace in this profession is “PR professional.”

The reason? Public relations people want to be considered pros at their jobs. They do much more than pitch and play. They want to convey expertise in a title and hope our colleagues in the media will see that professional ability every time. One catch: being professional in the process. 

That’s fine but if you are going to use that title, I have a request on behalf of many assignment desk editors and news producers: “Act like it!” Apparently, there have been issues.

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TechCrunch Has Had It with Your Spam Pitches

spam meat

Yesterday gave the tech PR world a small gift and a big warning: stop spamming TechCrunch writers.

Roman Dillet noticed that certain companies had been selling his email and those of his fellow contributors as part of a list that looks a whole lot like a tool enabling mass email pitches. In response, he posted a screed (URL “please-dont-spam-us”) implicitly urging everyone to stop sending him the sort of automated blasts that might as well bear “PLEASE DELETE THIS MESSAGE NOW” subject lines.

Dillet followed with some Pitching 101 advice, the most important parts of which you all know: do a little research on a given blogger’s beat so you can best determine who will be interested in the story you’re dying to share. And please at least give the appearance of time spent on personalization. Bloggers may be cynical, malnourished emotional discontents who desperately need a little more serotonin and a little less alcohol–but we’re not robots. They’re all busy writing AP’s financial reports.

TechCrunch blogger Sarah Buhr also simplified the idea in a comment on one of the press list providers’ pages:

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5 Not-So-Secrets to Writing Great Headlines

Headline Writing Tips

You dream about these too? 

I am happy — dare I say, damn proud — to be a Texan. However, I am one of the most enthusiastic fans of the New York Post I know. One reason — headlines.

The copywriters there are allowed to swig Red Bulls until their eyeballs as jittery as Justin Bieber’s hands following a long night out. (Because he’s never used that stuff. Yeah, right.) Some of the most ballsy headlines for major events comes from the scrivener wonderland, and it got me thinking: “How many methods have we forgotten when it comes to writing headlines?”

I’ll bet many. So, here’s the Top 5 for your flacky needs…

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Google PR Responds ‘Ugh’ to San Francisco Bus Protests

google-commuter-bus-protestWhen you are the ubiquitous king of the mountain, you can pretty much to do whatever you want to the minions, serfs and peons trying climb up each side. Watch them, wave at them, ignore them or kick them, it doesn’t really matter — that’s free enterprise.

That monarch of modern-day commerce is Google.

And they rarely respond to anything because, whelp, they don’t have to do that. That is, unless you accidentally retort to a Mission Local reporter with a flippant “Ugh” about tumultuous bus protests in the city, which Google is the big bad wolf to blame.

And that’s what happened. You see, if you work in Google’s PR department, you don’t have to do much but sit on your tail and collect a check. Except now, they are all asking themselves how to spell “p-i-t-c-h-i-n-g-p-r-o-t-o-c-o-l” via Gmail messenger.

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Journalists Actually Want More Social Media Pitches

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A few weeks ago we asked whether PR should pitch journalists directly via Twitter and got a very mixed response. Now the third annual “Social Journalism Study” performed by Cision seems to confirm that, where pitches are concerned, we’re an industry in flux: for now, at least, the vast majority will still be delivered via the digital equivalent of snail mail.

The least surprising conclusion drawn from the study (available for download here) is that 82% of journalists would like their PR contacts to use email. There’s a bit more to this one, though: it seems that a large share of participants would also appreciate more contact via social.

Further conclusions after the jump, of course…

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