Four Suggestions to Prevent Reporter Spam

On Forrester’s Empowered blog, Josh Bernoff names PR firms and in-house teams that have pitched him things he’s not interested in and asks that PR practitioners clean up their media lists to prevent this from happening again.

Sound familiar? This is an issue addressed often by reporters, who are very open about how they want to be pitched and what sorts of stories they’re looking for. For example, Mediabistro has a “How to Pitch for PR” series of features that includes the names, contact info, and preferred topics for a wide variety of publications.

So it’s not that the information isn’t out there. It’s just not making it from the reporters to the people who are actually doing the pitching. How can we remedy this?

Here are a few PRNewser suggestions. Please feel free to discuss the do-ability of these suggestions and share your suggestions/best practices in the comments section.

-Create a centralized media list, which will be the starting point for all media outreach. If you’re a firm with a number of practice areas (healthcare, consumer, tech, etc), each practice gets its own list. If you’re a boutique firm that focuses on one industry – perhaps technology – then this list should encompass all of the key media for that industry.

-Be selective. This doesn’t mean you should just send the pitch to everyone on the list. You can even add reporters covering different beats. For instance, if you’re a tech practitioner pitching a new fashion app, your prepared list will have the tech reporters, but you would need to add fashion reporters. This should ensure that the list is targeted.

-Assign a person or a small team of persons with the task of reviewing the list twice per month. People are moving around all the time in the media, so keeping your media list current requires diligence. As Bernoff rightfully points out, this is an important part of the business of PR, so it’s not time wasted. And these days many outlets report on movement in the media (something else Mediabistro does in the Revolving Door). So this something that doesn’t always require hours in front of a database for a few quick changes.

-Hold members of the team accountable for out-of-date outreach. This doesn’t mean that the poor intern gets scolded every time a pitch bounces back. Everyone should be sharing this information as it crosses their path. And if a reporter complains that they’re getting spammed, this should be dealt with as seriously as any other work performance issue.