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Should Bloggers Blacklist PR Firms?


I agree with much of Stowe Boyd says in his post about PR Spam but I am going to be the devils advocate here and I am hoping we can agree on what I am about to say.

If you are a professional journalist, or editor covering a particular industry or topic then part of your job is fielding PR pitches for products in that industry.

Think of it like a buyer working for a major department store. Let’s say they buy mens clothing. That person’s job is to buy things from people they know, and people they don’t know. In fact a good buyer is actively searching for, and appreciatively receiving unsolicited emails and cold calls from people they have never met who are trying to sell them some new line of clothing they have never heard of. Why?

That new line of clothing just might be the next big thing.

It is that buyer’s job to diligently review that line and listen to that sales pitch to decide if buying that line would give his company a competitive advantage.

A buyer who only buys from his friends and buys lines he already knows about is lazy and should be fired for not doing his job.

In Journalism and PR it is the same thing. Journalists and editors should be actively seeking new stories, from new companies about new products and learning about them with enthusiasm to give their publication an advantage by breaking stories before their competitors.

Will you occasionally get pitched something that is irrelevant to you or that is personally uninteresting to you? Of course. Too bad. Get over it or get a new job. Now if the same PR firm keeps sending you irrelevant information it is entirely appropriate to contact them and politely ask them to knock it off. If they keep “spamming” you then you should complain about them publicly until they get a clue.

Now here is the difference and the fine line between bloggers and “real” journalists. If blogging is a hobby for you and you don’t really consider yourself a journalist, or you don’t really know what journalism is or means then it is understandable that you might be offended when you receive an email from a stranger pitching some product you have never heard of.

Stowe offers some great advice in his post:

I also suggest to bloggers and journalists to do as I have done, and post a persistent link on your blog called ‘How To Pitch Me’ or the like, and state how others ought to — and ought not to — pitch you.

By the way small companies are the ones who are most hurt by being ignored. Big companies will always find ways to get their message out. They have the money and resources to change tactics and to kiss and make up to whoever they have offended. And don’t try to tell me that publishers don’t forgive when they are adequately sucked up to after being offended.

Small companies do not have access, do not have the resources or the cash to pursue every single media outlet in the world that might cover their product individually. It is impossible. So if you get what you consider to be “spam” from a small company take a moment to send them a polite email and explain that you don’t like the way they pitched you and offer them some free advice. Most likely they will appreciate the advice and you might just get the inside scoop when that company makes it big.

If the polite approach doesn’t work you can always blacklist them. It’s your blog you can do whatever you like 8).


Todd Defren defends his ably defends his firm and his profession.
Infopinions points out the difference between Lifehacker’s reaction and Chris Anderson’s.

Jeremy Pepper prefers OG PR.

PR Interactive says They aren’t teaching this kind of stuff in school:

While I can’t speak from the professional side, I can agree with him from the academic side. As a recent grad, I can tell you that I have had minimal exposure to pitching the media. This is, obviously, very difficult to do in the classroom setting, and most of my internships would let me pitch only when everyone else was swamped with bigger clients. For many of my peers, ,

Brian Solis says:

>Nowadays, any mistake made in PR is really an occupational hazard where one wrong move can cause a domino effect that has the potential to eradicate months or even years of hard work.

What Brian says is true but it is also wrong and shame on bloggers who hold PR professionals to an unreasonable standard. Show me a blogger who hasn’t posted inaccurate information one time or another or flamed someone and later had to apologize for it and I will eat my hat. We all make mistakes.

Btw Brian nails it in defining SPAM. It is not any email you deem to be unwanted.

Broadstuff disagree’s with Brian’s definition…..He’s wrong.

more to come I am sure.


  • Keith Burtis

    Rick, I loved the post. I think this theory holds true with anything in life. Keep an open mind, check the ego at the door and you’ll be surprised what your eyes will see, and what opportunities lie in the wait. If we never get out of our “circle”, if we only do business with fiends or familiar faces, chances are we will limit our growth and success in business and in life!
    Great Post
    Keith Burtis

  • Lara Kretler

    Rick, I couldn’t agree more. Blacklisting entire PR agencies because of a mistake made by one (perhaps newbie) PR person really is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I cannot stand the implication — that PR people are worthless and provide absolutely no value. I have a blog post coming on this myself. Thanks!

  • Jeremy Gray

    Your clothing store analogy is either completely broken or it is completely correct but you’ve demonstrated just how wrong you are.

    As a buyer, it would be my job to seek out new product. It is not somehow my job to read your (where “you” in this equals a vendor) marketing material when, where, and how _you_ see fit. No matter how qualified of a lead you may think I am, if I didn’t ask for it then it is still spam. Even if I chose to read your spam because it might in the end ease my job of seeking new product, it is still spam and I am still in absolutely no way responsible for reading it nor is it my “job” to read it because you say so.

    Instead of trying to dictate what other people’s jobs are, why can’t spammers just break it down with the simple truth for everyone: “We spam because it is economically viable.” At least then no one would be lying to themselves or others, instead of painting all these pictures about how it is someone’s job to read your spam and, after all, you’re just trying to help them do their job.

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