Bad PR in the Social Media World

September 22, 2009

Public relations is a highly honorable and useful profession in my view, despite the attitude of some. But like a lot of worthwhile professions, it often gets a bad name from people who practice it poorly and unethically. One of the surprises of being a blogger (I’ve been blogging pretty consistently for over three years now) is that sometimes you get treated as a journalist. I’ve gotten a few free books to review, which since I love books has been appreciated–and the books I have been sent have been relevant to the blog, which I also appreciate.

But I am increasingly getting email pitches for me to include items in my blog that have absolutely nothing to do with the narrowly defined topic that I cover. And that is just irritating. I don’t want to be on someone’s list of any and all bloggers. I don’t want to have to spend my time looking at these to determine where the heck the relevance might be. And I get really irritated when I let someone know that there is no fit and I keep getting pitched.

I’ve seen quite a bit of discussion on PR blogs and news sites about the backlash against PR practitioners for just this sort of behavior. There really is no excuse for it. Certainly blogs, well read ones in particular, are outstanding ways to build awareness for a product, service or organization. But to blindly pitch bloggers with completely irrelevant items makes the professional look naive and doesn’t help the image of the profession. In part what makes this bothersome is knowing that the tools and methods are available to avoid it. For example, Matchpoint, which is an excellent tool to identify and target the mainstream and new media reporters and writers who are writing on relevant topics. Full disclosure: my company has a business partnership with eNR, the company behind Matchpoint but we do not benefit from any of the sales. So I am including this merely as an example of the kinds of technology that can help make PR people efficient and not be stupid.

So, if you are pitching me on what great things a fashion company is doing, or want me to talk about World Save the Salmon Egg Day or anything like that, forget it. Go get Matchpoint and use your head.

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