How not to pitch

Let me preface this by saying I’m not one of those journalists who hates PR people. PR people often make my job much easier than it would otherwise be, and the good ones are extremely creative, helpful, hardworking and organised.


But, in the past couple of weeks I’ve received so many emails of this nature that I’m starting to wonder what people are paying some PR firms for.

“Hi there,

Hope you’re well. Just wondering would you like to have X on your show in order to help promote their event?

We might have some tickets to give away as well if you would like that.

PR person”

I have received numerous versions of this email in the past few weeks.

Now, I don’t pretend to be a PR professional, but in my previous job as a newspaper editor and in this one as a radio producer, I have to admit that my first concern has never been helping you to promote your event. My first concern is to provide good content to our show’s listeners. Yours is to make me believe your client will deliver that.

When I say “first”, that’s really my only concern. That’s my job. Making radio people want to listen to; whether they want to listen to it because it informs, educates or entertains them is a different matter, but I try and strike a balance.

My absolute last priority is helping you promote a commercial event. This is local radio, so if it’s a local event of interest to our listeners, or being organised by somebody with a compelling personal story, or an event supporting a charity that our listeners have emotional investment in, absolutely we’ll help you promote it. But if it’s a commercial event making money for your client and you are being paid to sell their story to me, then do it.

Suggesting a spokesperson to me without giving me any information on what they can talk about, their personal story, a topical story they can comment on, or any other remotely interesting information that might actually make them of interest to our listeners is not doing your job. In fact, you’re asking me to do your job for you. That’s not what our show – or any show – is here for. If you want to advertise something, buy an ad.

Gawker has more on this.

I’d love to hear from PR people on this – do you think this kind of thing gives the industry a bad name? Or are you just sick of being abused by journalists?!


One comment

  1. Sounds like spraying and praying to me. Lazy PR to be honest. My job is to know that your job is to have great content on your show and to drop that great content onto your lap on behalf of my client. I’m working to make sure that you don’t have any work to do on this so that a) if my pitch is good its a no brainer for you and b) if I deliver the goods you know you can rely on me to do it again. With the caveat of course that sometimes (often!) PR people have to pitch in stuff they know doesn’t have any value, but that doesn’t mean they can’t at least try to be innovative about it.

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