Lois Paul sounds almost exasperated in writing, on her firm's Beyond the Hype blog, about the basic importance of PR people knowing something about the people they hope to connect with. "Don't cold pitch" is so fundamental you'd think it wouldn't need any emphasizing.
Yet Lois was set off by a recent Shel Israel Tweet: @shelisrael: ancient complaint but why do PR folk think I should write about their clients when they don't take time to read my writing?
"I cringed," Lois writes, "Shel is absolutely right on this one – this is an ancient complaint and it is mortifying for those of us who consider ourselves PR professionals to hear this is still happening. It is just not acceptable."
A prime way to become acquainted with media people is, indeed, to read all you can find by or about them. That didn't use to be so easy. But now with blogs and social media, it's likely there's at least printed introductory material out there somewhere.
Lois suggests that you consult with colleagues of your prospective contact, read his or her blog, check to see if they've published guidelines for PR people, check the About pages of their blogs or websites. Read all you can find by or about them.
"If you have not read anything written by a person you are trying to 'pitch,'" Lois says, "don't pick up the phone or send an email or Tweet. You're not ready. You will not be successful. Worse, you are at risk of killing any chance that you, your client or your company has of building a relationship with that influencer."
It's like stepping into a hole, she might have added, instead of stepping out.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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