Commentary

P.R. Wild Pitches: Spring Edition

Oh, my goodness. I have the most splendid news to share. It’s about the Ruffed Grouse Society.

You know…the society of and by "grouse and woodcock hunters who support national scientific conservation and management efforts to ensure the future of the species." (Because, obviously, if you don’t have a thriving population of grouse and woodcock, you can’t shoot them dead with shotguns.)

But I stray from my point. The news is that the Ruffed Grouse Society supports the Gordon Gullion data recovery project, which as you know aims to collate and preserve the work of the late Ruffed Grouse expert Gordon Gullion. What you did not know -- surely it was news to me -- was that RGS members raised $70,000 for the recovery effort.

Yes, it rocked my world, too, when it landed in my inbox. This has partly to do with me not really being on the gamebird-habitat-data beat, instead more or less fixating on media and marketing for the past few, you know, decades. But through the miracle of incompetent public relations work, someone saw fit to keep me abreast of the Ruffed Grouse situation.

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Now, this one time, it worked very well for everyone. My forthcoming book, Fuck the Media -- What Happened to All of Paul Gulllion’s Grouse and Woodcock Data?, will be published by Simon & Schuster in early fall and for Christmas 2017 Paramount will release Gamebird, about a preeminent ornithologist coming out of retirement for one last gamebird-population study only to be sucked into a vortex of unforeseen woodcock-related anomalies.  

But otherwise, it could have been a waste of time and effort for all involved. Indeed, since I last weighed in last fall to shame careless and the clueless publicists for indiscriminate nuisance pitching for the brands they’re charging clients to build, I’ve also received these huge, highly targeted scoops:


Red Mango
® Frozen Yogurt Teams with Aramark to Expand K-12 Program To North Texas Middle Schools

Shalyn Dever Named an Orlando Business Journal 2015 40 Under 40 Honoree

The Pearland Crawfish Festival Moves to MSR Houston Motor Speedway

New Prostate Biopsy Technique May Eliminate Post-Biopsy Infection Rate


Don’t get me wrong. Like anyone else, I’d like post-prostate-biopsy infections to decline. Some of my best friends have prostates. Why, I have a prostate myself. But once again, those who pay firms like San Francisco’s Meltwater (to impress “influencers” like me through its miraculous application of data) better understand that their lists are corrupted with useless contacts like mine. The Meltwater emails arrive from a possibly nonexistent “Scott Melville,” which wouldn’t bear mentioning except that his supposed email address is Smelville.” Yeah, that about says it. Another Meltwater customer, Chatter Buzz Media, Orlando, if it had given the most perfunctory sniff test of its data purchase should know that the only reason I would write about 40-under-40 honoree Shalyn Dever is to make an example of her. 

Again, ordinarily, I wouldn’t even do that. Why embarrass poor Shalyn for the haphazardness of the p.r. effort on her behalf? Except that she is the founder of Chatter Buzz Media.  

Oy, vey. So many Meltwater customers, so much mis-targeted information. Like Hot Ice Media of Calabasas, Ca.


Winter Wellness Idea: Authentic New Zealand Manuka Honey (And Some Are Not The Real Deal!) A Must-Have First Aid Option For Many Consumers

Man, I hope Ad Age and The Wall Street Journal don’t beat me on the counterfeit New Zealand Manuka Honey story. That would be humiliating, since Peter Berk of Hot Ice went all the way to Smelville to get it in front of me.

Wait. Stand by.  This just in: we have…a BRIDAL GIFT GUIDE ALERT!


BRIDAL GIFT GUIDE ALERT

Luxurious Gifts for Groomsmen: 
Credit Card Holders by H.L. James


Seriously, if you were thinking that a hand-made gift, crafted of the finest luxury materials, would not make the perfect statement of thanks to your groomsmen, such as the luxury alligator skin credit card holders by H.L. James, you were incorrect.  This press release informs us that a hand-made gift, crafted of the finest luxury materials, would indeed make the perfect statement of thanks to your groomsmen.  Again, that bombshell doesn’t strictly speaking fit into the future-of-marketing-and-media niche I’ve cultivated over 35 years, but Ana Martins Communications of New York City deemed it worthy of spamming me on, so I’m wiping the spam off my finger and wiping it on you.

Don’t worry. I’ve got an inexhaustible supply:


Medical World Americas Opens Registration for 2016 Conference & Expo

Leading Wheelchair Van Dealer Introduces New Brand

Associa Partners with New Jersey’s Community Management Corporation

Watch Brands Will Unveil Groundbreaking New Timepieces 
at WatchTime New York


Hey, p.r. professionals, far be it from me to tell you how best to do your job, how best to serve your clients and how best not to make the media component of “earned media” block your emails permanently.  But here’s maybe a sort of rule of thumb. When you put a headline on a press release, and you send it to a journalist, ask yourself: “Is there a single word of this he will understand?”


Simplilearn & EXIN partner to bring live online Gamified training to prepare Next-Gen Scrum Masters


As a mere first-generation scrum master, frankly, I’m at a loss.

9 comments about "P.R. Wild Pitches: Spring Edition".
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  1. David Reich from Reich Communications, Inc., March 21, 2016 at 12:28 p.m.

    Bob, it's laziness and inexperience like this that makes it harder for the majority of us PR folks who try to do our jobs well.

    There are two big culprints that cause these off-base pitches to end up in your In-Box... 

    First is the services like Cision that provide media lists online.  I've found them hard to use and hard to target well.  So the user often ends up with lists that have lots of wrong targets included.

    Second is the user him or herself.  Since many PR people, especially those at agencies, have a finite amount of time to bill a client each month, media list-making often gets relegated to the low person on the totem pole -- someone who lacks experience and proper supervision.  Or worse yet, they just take whatever Cision spits out and blast it out via email.

    Media targeting is one of the basics of good PR, but it is too often overlooked.  It's time-consuming and boring, so it often gets done half-assed is at all.  Which is why you get all those off-target pitches and news releases.

    Sorry.

  2. Jeanne Byington from J M Byington & Associates, Inc., March 21, 2016 at 1:06 p.m.

    I agree with David and I, too, would like to apologize for the sloppy work of some in PR. 

    I'd like to add that many clients won't pay for the time you accurately describe as necessary to do the right kind of research. That is no excuse: Take the time and accept the loss. My overhead is less than that of large agencies so that's what I do. On the other hand, many get giant fees and should be ashamed of their slapdash work.

    I don't accept the premise that many give for all sorts of crummy service that "so and so isn't paid enough to care," or "isn't paid enough to do a good job." Customers and clients should not suffer because a PR person or agency isn't paid enough. That person can refuse to accept the work if it's their agency, or get another job if they don't like the agency or company they work for/represent. Under no circumstances should they embarass their clients--it's much about image after all, right?

  3. James Hering from The Richards Group, March 21, 2016 at 2:08 p.m.

    That five minute LMFAO was deeply appreciated.

  4. Robert Barrows from R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations, March 21, 2016 at 3:26 p.m.

    Dear Bob:
    Here are two big scoops for you:
    1) Call me about a press release I sent out headlined "Is your emailed press release already spam?"
    2) Callme about a press release I sent out pitching myself as a Restroom Critic...(You can do it as a follow-up to the prostate pitch you received.)

    ...Hey...You never know when it's a slow news day. Oh yeah..my number is 650-344-4405 if you ever need something to write about. I've got pitches about business, music, poetry, art, the origin of the universe and video tombstones, too.

    ...Hey buddy, want a great piece of news?

    And of course, flatter the reporter..."Hey Bob, I really liked your column today."

    Sincerely (of course),
    Robert Barrows


  5. Doc Searls from ProjectVRM, March 21, 2016 at 4:23 p.m.

    You're just bragging.

    I only get about half that much useless shit, and it's not nearly as funny, mostly because it's nearly all technology jive. "First Fully Transparent Cross-Platform Sytem Integration Product Solution." Stuff like that, which is why I created BuzzPhraser, two decades ago. Enjoy: http://buzzphraser.com. Click on "New BuzzPhrase," and if you find that amusing, adjust the number of nouns, adverbs, adjectives, prefixes and suffixes going into it.

    PR folks, help yourself as well. My pleasure.

  6. Chuck Lantz from 2007ac.com, 2017ac.com network, March 21, 2016 at 6:13 p.m.

    Thanks for the URL, Doc.  Until just recently, I mistakenly thought that I was the only one here who was hopelessly confused by industry buzz phrases.

    And, for no apparent reason, when I read this article I recalled my jaw-drop when first reading about last weekend's featured NASCAR race, the ... wait for it ... TreatMyClot.com 300

  7. Aimee Stern from stern Communications, March 21, 2016 at 7:09 p.m.

    The problem, other than complete incompetence, is mass media targeting or to put it another way throw stuff against a wall and see what sticks. Why PR people do not create a short list, read the writer's work, and reach out to them individually is beyond me. I guess it is because there is no strategy behind what they are doing, they do not understand that PR is marketing and the measurement system is volume rather than quality. Since those who pitch are often very junior and untrained the cycle perpetuates itself. I also don't think a lot of clients understand the damage an agency can do to their brand when it sends out junk mail with their name on it. 

  8. Barbara Lippert from mediapost.com, March 22, 2016 at 10:09 a.m.

    Funny, Bob. And yikes. I spoke in front of a Public Relations association and told them this-- that there is so  much ridiculous waste.  I wasn't a particularly well received speaker. 

  9. Nathan Hermes from HermesPR, March 26, 2016 at 2:10 p.m.

    in this day and age, no PR pro should be doing "blasts" to a massive press list.  handcrafted, custom, 1 to 1 should be how it's done, day-in, day-out.  i don't know how or why agencies are still doing this garbage.  practice your craft with some sense of pride, folks.

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