No need for media relations — not when you make the blacklist!

kent.jpgHere at Kent State, some of the journalism faculty urge student reporters to duck PR people at the slightest hint of trouble. PR people are obstacles on the pathway to truth, they say. And too often, I’m afraid they’re right.

As a profession, we’ve earned the brickbats of journalists based on decades and decades of bad pitches. The problem is so prevalent that Kevin Dugana PR professional — dedicates an entire blog to the topic.

Of course, not all PR people are media pitching flim-flam artists, and I’m certain none of my readers are — right? But armed with digital publicity distribution tools that’ll spam half the free world with click, it’s little wonder some media have slammed the door.

wired_logo.gifJust yesterday, Chris Anderson posted the emails of PR people and organizations now banned from pitching him at Wired — 328 in all, and some names you may recognize. Chris claims he gets 300 pitches daily, most of them impersonal spam from flacks hoping to get lucky.

Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching. Fact: I am an actual person, not a team assigned to read press releases and distribute them to the right editors and writers (that’s

boingboing-logo.gifMark Frauenfelder at BoingBoing is taking a similar path, but without the public outing.

For the past week or so, I’ve been blacklisting PR flacks from my email inbox. Anytime I get a press release that doesn’t interest me, I add the domain name of the PR agency to my killfile list.

So be forewarned, my brothers and sisters. The gatekeepers of the MSM and the blogosphere have put a bounty on the heads of publicity spam artists. Those who made the blacklist likely had it coming. Let’s hope they can find another line of work.

7 Responses to No need for media relations — not when you make the blacklist!

  1. tastyburger says:


    Couldn’t agree more. The people being blacklisted deserve to be. If you, as a PR pro, can’t put the extra effort in to dig around and truly seek out ways to discover the best contact and how to pitch/build a relationship with them, then you have larger problems considering your entire job is based on this very premise.

    -Ben Brugler

  2. mundopr says:

    I also agree, Bill, that lazy people need to be put in the ‘killfile.’ As a Kent alum, I feel the faculty successfully taught us the importance of building relationships-with key publics, peers and the media. Like any relationship, public relations is about forming, sustaining and growing a partnership-not throwing in the occasional and empty ‘I love you’ when you need something.

  3. Eric says:

    But can’t it go both ways? Don’t PR specialists and journalists share a symbiotic relationship? As a journalist, I’d be cautious of such practices. You might need information one day. When you try to get it, you may find that the PR specialist whose e-mail address you put in the kill file, returned the favor.

    “Building relationships” wouldn’t be a challenge, and nothing worth hiring people to do, if you dind’t have to tolerate some bullshit every once in a while.

  4. lespotter001 says:

    The tension between PR professionals and journalists has be there for decades. My first job out of the army during the Vietnam era (early 1970s) was as a daily news reporter. The newspaper staff hated PR people. I couldn’t wait to get out of that newsroom and into a corporate PR job.

    I believe the rift between us and them is being healed by people like us, Bill. Instructors who teach future PR professionals to do it the right way, as Mundopr says so well above, will help bring the two professions together for the common good.

  5. Shelley Prisco says:

    Like I mentioned in a previous post, “public relations” means different things to different practitioners. Some professionals want to use PR as a “fluff” tactic, and their bosses see it in this light as well. This is how public relations’ identity gets lost in the marketing/advertising shuffle. How is public relations supposed to differentiate itself when some practitioners (and the big bosses) continue to use it in a way that it won’t be taken seriously? It’s got to be done in a credible manner. I don’t know why some executives can’t see how counterproductive this is for their companies. PR can be done in an ethically, but it’s not how people, in general, want to operate.

    Some journalists/editors feed off of controversial news just to be the first ones to get the “juicy” stories. They are, in a sense, getting sucked into a “fluff” of their very own. I don’t believe that every media professional is out to seek the 100 percent truth for his/her readers. It just depends on the people involved.

    I don’t believe that one side is better than the other. Journalism and public relations are necessary professions in getting pertinent information out to their respective audiences. If done ethically, the results can be productive, and good relationships can develop. If done in an assinine fashion, the results are catty and counterproductive. It’s as simple as that. I have a respect for both professions, which is I why I majored in both during my undergrad years.

  6. michelle v says:

    I happen to think Chris is a genious. I posted my thoughts on this topic and media relations in general to Brewed Fresh Daily, which can be found here:

    Great blog by the way. I work with many of your former students who turned me on to your blog.


  7. […] contact lists. You can read a few animated and sometimes heated posts about this phenomenon here, here, and […]

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