Here 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 Dugan — a 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.
Just 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 firstname.lastname@example.org).
Mark 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.