Advice for public relations people pitching stories to me

The biggest problem is inappropriate pitches. I didn’t do consumer finance — I work for a trade publication, not a consumer magazine! The PR folks who send me consumer-oriented press releases, and then call and try to talk to me about them, to use up my time even further, don’t bother to check. That’s really annoying and makes me think worse of their agencies.

The next biggest problem is incomprehensible pitches. If I can’t figure out what you’re selling, I’ll just hit the delete key right off.

If an unintelligible press release *has* to go out, the best PR people would put a few paragraphs of explanation addressed to me personally before attaching the press release — so I wouldn’t have to wade through it to figure out what the story was.

They’d say something like, “Maria, here’s hot trend in wireless for you — ESP-based communication networks. They’re fast and secure, and work through psychics. We’ve got some customers and analysts for you to talk to, if you’re interested.” And then the press release would go on to say, “ESP Networks, Inc. has announced the release of Gobbelty 2.0, an end-to-end, user-focused, communication solution for the enterprise networking marketplace.” Argh! Please, folks, can you stop using the world “solution”?

Finally, my last pet peeve is PR folks who are either lazy or overworked (it can be hard to tell which). Either way, it makes the company look really bad.

Say, someone promises to get me in touch with customers, company spokesmen, and analysts. And then I wait while my deadline comes and goes and the PR guy only responds to messages to say “I’m working on it.”

Well, I get pissed off, their company is left out of the story (and the competition gets to say nasty things about them unchallenged) and I have to scramble to fill that space with something else. Not fun.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I don’t call the company for the next article, and I don’t recommend them to colleagues as a good source. And that’s the opposite of good PR.

Better to just tell me that you don’t have the time to set it up, but that I can contact the parties involved directly.