Saturday, January 17, 2009

The other shoe

With more and more PR people wearing blogger's hats (a great addition to any winter wardrobe), the line between PR and journalism - citizen or otherwise - continues to blur.

I was thinking about this when I received my first over-the-transom pitch a while back. And though I was glad to be noticed, I wasn't sure how to react. Probably because I'm not usually on the receiving end.

Not long after, a personal blogger I know was approached by a word of mouth firm that wanted to send her products for review. When she told them she works in PR and may be conflicted, the WOM'er said, 'I'll just pretend I didn't hear that and we'll send them anyway.'

I think that's just plain wrong on so many levels and is yet another example of why our business has a bit of a bad name. (She didn't do the post.)

And it made me wonder: when is it OK for PR folks to blog about a pitch they've received? Or really, when is it not appropriate?

It's a grey area and, like so much else in our business, it all comes down to knowing where to place our self on that fine line we call reputation (ours, as well as our clients). In other words making an ethical judgement call.

As many have already said, be transparent, identify yourself and be open about who/what you represent. Some bloggers have gone further by listing their criteria for accepting pitches.

I think there's a positive outcome to PR people being pitched. With the shoe on the proverbial other foot, we get a chance to experience life from a journalist's POV. Interesting loafers, I say, though they don't quite fit and I'm not sure I'd want to wear them everyday.

Hopefully all of this will give our industry a greater understanding and empathy for media, which will help us do a better job.

2 comments:

Lauren said...

Having been on the receiving end of one of those pitches, I found myself acting like a weak girl prey to a pushy salesperson. The funnier thing is, I have friends who currently work and have worked at that WOM agency and I gave them the pusher's name. Turns out she was a temp hired to find people like me. And did the agency conduct any follow-up? Only by email that reeked of "dear (insert name)"

On that note, can I interest you in a pillow that will give you abs of steel, clean your house and of course give you the ultimate night's sleep? Will you talk about it with your friends?

Joseph Thornley said...

Martin, it's ALWAYS ok for a PR person to post about having been pitched. Provided that their professional affiliation is known and any client conflicts are declared.