It’s been nearly two years since I stopped working as press, yet I still get pitches almost daily from “pray and spray” PR folks – almost always about things that I wouldn’t have covered even if I was still doing my old beats.
One of the reasons this makes me crazy is obvious: I don’t need more email to sort through. I get plenty of email to sort through as it is, I don’t need spam from PR folks who can’t be bothered to keep a decent list of press. What makes it worse is that they often will do the “just making sure you saw this” follow-up w/in 24 hours if I just hit delete. (Few things strike me as more entitled than PR folks who think they’re owed a response from a person they’ve never corresponded with before and they haven’t done their homework enough to know that you’re not even in their target demographic.)
Aside from that, though, it makes me crazy because it’s a reminder just how lousy tech press has become in general. There’s no attempt to build relationships with tech press these days for the most part, because there’s damn little real journalism going on. The bulk of stories are reactionary – Acme Corp did Y today, so we’ll put up a 600-word post about it that only skims the surface and never revisit the topic again, unless it’s an outrage post of some sort that has a lifetime of a few days.
It also makes me crazy because people get paid ridiculous amounts of money to… spam journalists. I’ve seen the rates offered by third-party firms that spam me, and they’re ridiculous when you take into account what they actually do. Companies should be paying PR people who have contacts in the industry, who know and understand the products they’re pitching, and know the publications.
If you’re doing tech PR and you can’t name the current masthead of publications that are important to your client you have no business in the industry. If a person has left a publication and you still don’t know about it months later, you have no business being in the industry. Seriously, how can you be responsible for relationships with, say, ReadWriteWeb and not notice that someone’s posting frequency has gone from three times a day to zero for months? You’re clearly not paying attention to what they’re writing about, how can you possibly be effective in pitching them?
Finally, it makes me crazy because one of the reasons the tech press sucks so much these days is there’s damn little money to pay people to do good coverage. And one of the reasons there’s damn little money is because it’s been diverted from advertising to ineffective social media and PR campaigns from over-priced firms that aren’t doing their damn job! So tech companies are basically shooting themselves in the foot, paying huge retainers to PR folks and skimping on supporting the publications that … they’re paying the ineffective PR firms to get coverage in. Then they’re surprised when they don’t seem to be getting good coverage. Sigh.