Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

How to suck up to Chris Anderson in 1000 words or more . . .

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 11, 2007

Ever since Chris Anderson, the powerful editor-in-chief of Wired magazine's recent momentary lapse in self-composure, in which he publicly blacklisted several hundred PR people for sending him bad pitches, the PR industry has gone into a frenzy of self-flagellation.

Masses of PR bloggers have been writing very long essays and about how Mr Anderson is right, and that the PR sector needs to get its house in order and and eliminate bad PR pitches. It is as if Mr Anderson was the first editor to discover that there are bad PR pitches and brought it to the attention of the world, and now the PR world is going to sort out the problem.

This is BS

Bad PR pitches have been with us since the beginnings of recorded history and will continue to be here. It is what separates the good PR people from the bad ones, and there will always be bad ones.

Bad PR pitches will continue because:

- many PR firms use juniors to scatter-shoot generic pitches hoping someone will bite.

- the fragmentation of media means there isn't enough time to customize each pitch for each journalist/blogger.

- many PR firms have very small numbers of people with the domain expertise in what their clients do.

Pitch perfect problem

Maybe I should publish a whitelist of PR people who are doing a great job, pitching excellent story ideas, offering exclusives, arranging interviews with their top CEOs, and generally looking out for me and my product.

Mr Anderson complained about getting 300 pitches that have nothing to do with Wired magazine. My problem is 300 pitches that are right on target, that demonstrate that the PR people know what I 've been writing about, that are thinking about related stories, and offering top access to their clients.

What happens if your PR pitch is pitch-perfect, it sets exactly the right tone, demonstrates an insight into the subject and the publication, and you still can't get an editor interested in it? That's going to be happening more and more because PR agencies are on a hiring binge while the professional media world is shrinking.

When it comes to media relations, there will be ever larger numbers of PR people, chasing ever smaller numbers of journalists, writing for a dwindling number of publications, which are publishing fewer pages.

Getting media coverage for clients is going to be increasingly more difficult no matter how good the PR pitch.

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