PR can be a great, low-dollar, high-return marketing tool if applied correctly. A post by Chris Anderson, of Wired Magazine, did a pretty good job of highlighting one of the challenges we face when trying to connect with the editorial community. The best advice is always to take your time and do your job right. Unfortunately, we can't always afford to do that.
When I personally build a press list, I first look for things the editorial contact has written and check their title and any assigned beats. Then if I think they are the correct person, I email each of them individually - yes, one at a time - and verify that they are the correct person to cover the type of news my business generates and if not, ask for a more appropriate contact. When I have an agency do the same, I don't have so much control so I don't know how they do it. I could probably insist, but then I'd be paying $150 for someone to be paging through magazines.
I find that I sit on both sides of the issue Chris blogged about. Chris’ rant is really funny and a good slam back at “the machine.” It can also be interpreted as being pretty vindictive and immature. That’s okay. I’ve spent time on both ends of that spectrum myself.
During my long read of the post and comments, I found myself alternating between “Yes!! Hammer those spamming squids” and “Oh come on. Lighten up, dude.” Really, though, there isn’t anything new in any of these comments (well, I only read about 100 hundred of the comments). This is part of the reality that we all live in.
In theory, each of us with news really believe that we have something valuable to the readers of Wired, or whatever magazine we are targeting. In a perfect world, Wired would be begging us for that news because valuable editorial content is their product. It allows them to sell magazines and ads.
The real world says that none of us are given enough time to do our jobs as right as we would like to so everybody ends up in a defensive position – we all become the enemy.
The readers get annoyed because there’s so much ad content getting in the way of the meat and much of the meat isn’t relevant to them. The advertisers get annoyed because Wired ad reps won’t stop calling or spamming them, the prices are too high and the results aren’t as expected. The editors get annoyed because they are spammed so much that they can’t find the few valuable nuggets that their readers would really appreciate. The news sources (me) get annoyed because we can’t get the editor’s attention and can’t deliver our “wonderful story” to the world.
We’re all one big, annoyed family. But that’s the reality we live in.