A recent post by prominent blogger Robert Scoble – who among other things is a columnist at Fast Company – serves as (yet another) plea to the PR industry to stop “bad pitches.” Scoble complains in his post that his efforts to push back on unwanted and/or misdirected pitches sparked a backlash of criticism from PR pundits and staffers alike. His point – instead of listening and learning too many PR staffers vilify the critics and stubbornly go on their merry way like it’s 1999.
Unfortunately, I’ve seem plenty of evidence first hand that supports Scoble’s unflattering assessment. Recently I witnessed so-called social media experts at one firm suggest they intended to pitch to a variety of influential bloggers… just because they were influential. No matter that they had no real news, that the pitch (as it was) had no topical connection at all to these bloggers or that the company had established no relationship whatsoever with these bloggers. One can imagine the reaction this would have generated with the recipients. Some agencies seem unable even to reassess the relevance and value of their services, still promoting bulk coverage in traditional media as the ultimate measure of communication success. I’m not honestly sure why the industry continues to demonstrate this blind spot around social media and continue to push blunt, mass pitching. Perhaps it’s due to the fact much of the dirty work in agencies is still done by the most inexperienced (and inexpensive) staff. Maybe it’s the pressure to product results – no matter what they are. Whatever the cause, until agencies overhaul their tactics and respond to the complaints they will continue to turn influential pundits like Scoble into critics rather than advocates. Worse, they will push existing and potential employees out of the PR business.